Super Bowl Betting

Panthers Way Ahead as Super Bowl 50 Favorites

Which was more impressive: The Denver Broncos beating the defending champs, or the Carolina Panthers winning the NFC title by 34 points? It must have been the latter, because at press time, the Panthers are –190 favorites to win Super Bowl 50. The Broncos are +165 for the Big Game, which will take place Sunday, February 7 (6:30 p.m. ET, CBS) at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara.

The market has spoken. Denver did a masterful job against the New England Patriots last week, putting more pressure on Tom Brady than he'd faced all season long. But the Patriots (–4 away) still came within a 2-point conversion of sending this game into overtime, losing 20-18 after scoring a touchdown with 12 seconds remaining. Carolina's 49-15 cakewalk over the Arizona Cardinals (+3.5 away) was a completely different animal. The Panthers were up 17-0 by the end of the first quarter, and never looked back.

Efficiency Formula

Quality of opposition matters, though. Going into the Conference Championships, the Patriots were +190 favorites to win Super Bowl 50, while the Cardinals were +375. From a statistical perspective, Arizona may have performed better during the regular season, but New England was ranked ahead of the Cards in weighted DVOA (Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average), which puts more emphasis on recent play.

Even then, Carolina's performance against the Cardinals was one of the very best since 1989, which is how far back the DVOA stats extend. The Cats cruised through the early part of the season playing against substandard opponents; on Sunday, they humiliated the No. 2 seed in the NFC. Can Newton scored four touchdowns (two rushing, two passing) for Carolina. Carson Palmer committed six turnovers (four interceptions, two fumbles) for Arizona.

Forearm Shiver

As well as both teams played last week, they didn't escape unscathed. The Panthers took the worst of it, as LB Thomas Davis broke his arm, and safety Roman Harper suffered an eye injury. Davis insists he'll play in the Super Bowl; the break is reportedly a simple fracture in his forearm, and the surgery has already been completed. Harper's eye damage appears to be manageable, too.

The Broncos defense absorbed its share of punishment on Sunday. However, safeties T.J. Ward (sprained left ankle) and Darian Stewart (sprained right MCL) should be fine for the Big Game after they were evaluated on Monday. In a game featuring the No. 1 seeds from either conference, playing on a neutral field, Denver's health could be the difference-maker.


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*Odds as of February 5, 2016