By Charles Jay
We certainly have some late movement in the line for Super Bowl 50, don’t we? The public is coming back toward the Denver Broncos, who are only a 4.5-point underdog at this point against the Carolina Panthers. And of the total is also coming down. Earlier in the week, as part of the CJ/America’s Bookie Challenge, we got in on the total at 45, but now it’s out there at 43.5 points. Is it still worth it to go “under”?
Well, this is the way we look at it – unquestionably the Broncos are looking to take away, to pardon the pun, one of the things that has made the Panthers so successful this season, which is their ability to capitalize on turnovers. How do you do that? By cutting down on the chances you take down the field, of course. And when you have someone like Peyton Manning, who has completed only 34% of his throws with 20 or more “air yards” (that’s lingo from a recent Harvard College Sports Analysis study), that means you are not necessarily stretching the opposing defense. This is going to be a safety-first quarterback, and if you saw the way he missed some open receivers in the red zone against New England, the Broncos may not be all that effective down there. Denver is going to try to run the ball, and Carolina knows it. What were trying to say is that there’s a pretty good shot Carolina can keep the Denver offense in check.
Here are the Super Bowl odds as they appear at the moment at America’s Bookie:
Carolina Panthers -4.5
Denver Broncos +4.5
Over 43.5 points -110
Under 43.5 points -110
By the same token, we also believe that the Panthers are going to be highly motivated to run as well. Not that this is a weak spot in the Denver defense, but we know that Carolina is going to do this almost no matter what. Think about it for second; they have rushed 30 or more times in 16 of their 18 games; they have called 50.7% rushing plays, and they lead the league with 33.6 attempts per game. So that is pretty much a given. What I think is kind of important is that Carolina has gained only 61.2% of its yardage through the air, which ranks only 29th in the league. So they almost NEED to have a ground game. Were pretty confident Denver can slow that down a little. And also, with the defensive backs the Broncos have out there, there is a pretty good chance that no Carolina wide receiver is going to dominate things, even though we respect the progress of rookie Devin Funchess and the speed of Ted Ginn.
One of the other factors that America’s Bookie customers have to take into account is the field itself. This has been a troubled place to play, and understandably Levi’s Stadium was awarded this game before anyone knew there were going to be problems with the playing surface. Yes, they put new sod down, but they’ve done that many times. There are just not a lot of high-scoring games in Santa Clara. This season, games averaged 31.1 points at Levi’s Stadium, and that’s less than Carolina’s per-game average of 31.2. Last season, there was only a 39.9-point average, with opponents tallying less than 21 points per game. It would not surprise us if footing was problematic, and to us, that certainly does not contribute to the expectation of a high-scoring game.