Updated Super Bowl 50 Over/Under Pick

Posted by Aaron . on February 2, 2016 in

As of Tuesday morning, the over/under point game total for Super Bowl 50 is 45.5 points. This might seem like a low point total for a matchup between the team that scored a team-record 500 points in the 2015 regular season — the Carolina Panthers — and the team that set the NFL regular-season scoring record with 606 points in 2013 — the Denver Broncos. The Panthers put up enough points — 49 — in the NFC Championship to go over this week’s total all by themselves. So where is this total coming from?

An Update to Our Super Bowl 50’s Over/Under Pick

When: Sunday, February 7, 2015
Kickoff: 6:30 PM ET
Where: Santa Clara, CA
Stadium: Levi’s Stadium
Spread: Panthers -6
Moneyline: Carolina -245 vs Denver +205
Game Total: 45.5
Watch: CBS
Stream: CBS Sports

The Panthers have a shutdown defense, but it isn’t always operating at full strength. They took the ball away from the opposition an NFL-best 39 times during the regular season (and nine more times in their first two playoff games). They limited the Cardinals to an anemic 15 points in the NFC Championship, a Cardinals team that had spent much of the regular season scoring at will.

On the other side of the ball, the Denver Broncos had the #1 defense in the National Football League this season. In the divisional round, they only allowed the Pittsburgh Steelers 16 points, and they held Tom Brady and the New England Patriots to 18 points in the AFC Championship.

So you have two elite defenses — or do you?

In the NFC divisional playoff round, the Panthers rolled out to a 31-0 halftime lead on the Seattle Seahawks. In the second half, though, the Seahawks roared back with 24 unanswered points and could have made things really interesting if they had recovered their onside kick.

In the AFC divisional round, Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had an injured throwing shoulder that limited his distance, but he still threw for over 300 yards against the Broncos, who had their corners giving the Steeler receivers a huge cushion. In the AFC Championship, the Broncos basically ignored the Patriots’ nonexistent running game, keying on the passing game.

So it’s possible that Denver could drive up and down the field if the Panthers lose their focus again, or if they lose their poise. It’s possible that Carolina could feast on Denver’s defense, since Cam Newton is throwing at full strength, and the Panthers have solid running and passing games.

So which side of the total should you pick? I would go over — and here’s why.

Peyton Manning has thrown more picks than touchdown passes this season. He hasn’t thrown a pick since he returned to the field in Week 17, but he’s playing the best takeaway defense in the league. So he’s likely to turn the ball over at least once, and the Panthers have three defensive touchdowns in the playoffs already.

Defensive touchdowns tend to build momentum for the opposition. Remember when Seattle disrupted Denver’s momentum early on and rolled to a 43-8 victory? I don’t see that happening here, but if Carolina can get a couple of quick scores, one way or the other, Denver will have to focus on passing the ball to catch up, and that will either result in a track meet of a game or a rout by the Panthers. Either way, I see the 45.5 point total going by the wayside. Even if Denver can take advantage early on, or mount a late comeback, I see this as a game that will go over that total.