Updated Super Bowl 50 Point Spread

Posted by Aaron . on February 6, 2016 in

The point spread for Super Bowl 50, featuring the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos, has slid around a bit as betting action has poured in after the conference championships. Originally, the Panthers were favored by 3.5 points, but then that line moved as high as 6.5 to 7 points, depending on which online sports book you were looking at. Now the line has slid back down to 5.5 points, as the idea that the Panthers might need to win by a touchdown to cover apparently brought the spread back down a bit.

Updated Super Bowl 50 Point Spread



So Why Is the Point Spread Moving Around So Much?

Well, the initial reaction to the 3.5-point spread wasn’t that surprising. Denver has not shown that they can do much of anything on offense against a solid defense. They haven’t gotten to 30 points in either of the playoff games, and if you watched the second half of the AFC Championship, in which the Broncos would get the ball and (with the exception of their one field-goal drive) they would punt the ball right back (or fumble the ball). They were holding on for dear life with their defense, and while the Broncos ended up winning, that was more a function of the fact that the Patriots missed an extra point in the first half than anything else. If they hadn’t missed it, when they scored that late touchdown on the Brady pass to Rob Gronkowski, they would just have kicked another one to send it to overtime. Instead, they had to go for two, and the pass rush gave the Broncos their third interception of the game. So while the Bronco defense did a terrific job in the game, the perception that the Broncos got lucky in this win is a valid one — and it pushed the line up to a touchdown. After all, the Carolina Panthers have a terrific offense and a stout defense, and the idea that they could sit back and feast on Peyton Manning interceptions while Cam Newton bowls over the Bronco D became popular, pushing the line up.

But then you have to give the Denver defense some credit. They did shut down two of the more powerful offenses in the AFC this year in Pittsburgh and New England. They create an incredible amount of pressure on the pass rush without having to do a lot of blitzing. New England kept sending so many receivers out for passes that they didn’t have people in the backfield to protect Tom Brady, and so the Broncos’ defensive line went to town. The Panthers are more likely to start strong on the ground, but the Broncos still should be able to mount a significant pass rush. If they can do this without blitzing, and if the Panthers have to go to a “max protect” package that keeps seven people in the backfield or on the O-line, that means that they only have three people going out for passes, while the Broncos have six or seven people back to cover them. That could make a really long day for Cam Newton. So it’s the tension between these two ideas that pushed the line up… and then brought it back down a bit.