It’s traditionally one of the biggest games of the year, so it’s going to be a big sports betting weekend in Las Vegas and around the world – Super Bowl 50 between the Carolina Panthers of the NFC South and the Denver Broncos of the AFC West. An entire season of ups and downs led us to this point, with the Broncos winning a thrilled AFC Conference Final 20-18 over the Patriots, while the Panthers ran away to a lopsided 45-19 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. With results like that leading into the big game the natural inclination for a bettor is to look at this as a battle of a high powered offense vs. a shut down defense and figure out which side has the advantage. The “offense” side definitely goes to “Superman” Cam Newton, who has had the kind of season most quarterbacks dream about, while proving he’s a multiple threat to score with both his arm and his legs. As long as players like Greg Olsen and Jonathan Stewart give Newton the support he needs as options, and the O line protects enough for him to scramble out of danger, it’s easy to see the Panthers putting up 35 points against any opponent – even in the biggest game of the entire year. Before you put a few bills on the Panthers though let’s flip that script to Denver’s defense. It’s easier to compile statistics on offense than defense, but power rankings show they’ve been in the top five as a team almost the entire year which can in large part be attributed to how they shut teams down, and not how productive Peyton Manning or Brock Osweiler have been. Any time you throw in the direction of Aqib Talib or Chris Harris, a pick six is not only a reasonable but a highly expected outcome – particularly with Talib. And I don’t care how good you are at scrambling in the pocket – if Von Miller is coming your way you’re going to get hit sooner or later. Cam Newton is going to face the kind of pressure that he’s not seen this entire NFL season, and passes which once looked easy will float just out of each, and even short gains for first down will be tough for Newton as he races to escape danger. He’s willing to put his body on the line for his team, but this time it will cost him. Here’s the bottom line – the Panthers are the money line favorite as of this writing, coming in at -230 with the Denver Broncos at +190. It’s a clear indication of who is expected to win, but it’s not such an outrageous gap between the lines that the Broncos aren’t capable of doing the same things they did to the Patriots. My personal feeling is that the Panthers are slightly overrated and that the Broncos are slightly underrated, but your SAFE bet is to pick Cam Newton’s youth over Peyton Manning’s experience. Remember though the safest bet of all is to only wager what you can afford to lose. Enjoy the Super Bowl this Sunday!
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