Updated Super Bowl 50 Betting Odds
The Denver Broncos paid off big time as a betting underdog in the AFC Championship when they knocked off the New England Patriots. People who love the underdog will get another chance to pick the Broncos in a couple of weeks when they face off with the Carolina Panthers at Levi’s Stadium in Super Bowl 50. Click here for our NFL betting lines.
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) January 25, 2016
What: Super Bowl 50
Who: Carolina Panthers (15-1) vs Denver Broncos (12-4)
When: Sunday, February 7, 2015
Kickoff: 6:30 PM ET
Where: Santa Clara, CA
Stadium: Levi’s Stadium
Spread: Panthers -3.5
Moneyline: Carolina -185 vs Denver +160
Game Total: 43.5
Stream: CBS Sports
Listen: Carolina vs Denver
Updated Betting Odds
Despite the whipping that the Panthers laid on the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship, the Broncos are only 3.5-point underdogs in opening lines for the big game. It’s likely that oddsmakers are leery of the fact that the Broncos were seen as so unlikely to knock off the Patriots but managed to fend off Tom Brady time and time again.
The credit in this situation has to go with the coaching schemes of head coach Gary Kubiak and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, both of whom had found themselves out of work in the winter of 2013-2014 when the Houston Texans jettisoned then after a 2-14 season.
Phillips’ defense was thunderous on Sunday, knocking Tom Brady down 20 times, more times than any other quarterback had been hit during any game all year. During all three games of the 2014 postseason, Brady was only knocked down 18 times. The Kansas City Chiefs, who were said to have a defense that was about as good as Denver’s, only knocked Brady down once. The key was that Phillips backed off the blitz. During the regular season, the Broncos blitzed about 42 percent of the time. In the AFC Championship, they only blitzed about 16 percent of the time, the lowest rate by any Phillips-led defense since Week 9 of the 2007 season, when Phillips was in Dallas. There were 14 plays that featured just a three-man rush by the Broncos, but they generated so much pressure that Brady just went 4 for 13 on those plays for 41 yards, with one sack, one pick and a passer rating of 9.5.
It helped that the Broncos knew that the Patriots really weren’t going to try to run the ball much. They only put five men in the box for 30 of the snaps on Sunday. The Patriots did run 14 running plays to their backs, but those only gained 31 yards. So the Broncos put their defensive ends way out wide, their defensive tackles on the outside shoulders of the guards and a linebacker over the middle. Sometimes the linebacker would join the rush, and other times he would drop back into coverage.
The Super Bowl will be a much tougher challenge. The Panthers run the ball well, whether it’s through their tailbacks or through Cam Newton himself. They also brought opposing drives to an end with an interception about 12 percent of the time, best in the NFL. Given that Peyton Manning has been a lot more generous with interceptions this year, that could be a real problem. Carolina already has two pick-sixes in these playoffs. Manning had an inconsistent day, and it is only because of the defense that the Broncos are in the Super Bowl, after the offense went away after halftime. So at this point, I have to say that I like the Panthers with these odds. But then again, that’s why they play the games.