The Carolina Panthers began the season as longshots to win Super Bowl 50, but they head into the biggest NFL game of 2016 as decided favorites over the Denver Broncos. The betting line for the contest opened at 3.5 points at multiple Las Vegas casinos, and it quickly increased in Carolina’s favor.
As of Monday morning, Carolina is a four-point favorite at some sportsbooks, while others have the Panthers favored by 4.5 points, according to vegasinsider.com. The Panthers’ moneyline is -180, while the Broncos have +160 betting odds to pull off the upset and win outright. The over/under is 45 points.
Carolina wasn’t favored to represent the NFC in Super Bowl 50 when the playoffs began, but they’ve looked dominant this postseason. After taking a 31-0 lead in their divisional playoff win over the Seattle Seahawks, the Panthers beat the Arizona Cardinals by 34 points in the NFC Championship Game.
Denver was a home underdog in the AFC Championship Game, but they managed to hold off the New England Patriots and reach the Super Bowl for a second time in three years. The Broncos weren’t favored in the AFC when the postseason began, despite being the No.1 seed in the conference.
— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) January 25, 2016
Being the Super Bowl favorite hasn’t worked out well for teams in recent years. Last year’s game was a pick’em at most sportsbooks, though some casinos had the Seahawks favored by one point over the eventual champs. In the five Super Bowls prior, the underdog won outright every year.
The Broncos find themselves in a very different position from the one they were in two years ago. Peyton Manning and Denver’s high-powered offense was favored to beat Seattle, who ended up winning by 35 points. This time around, the Broncos are decided underdogs as Manning appears to be in the twilight of his career.
The Panthers made one previous Super Bowl appearance, losing to the Patriots by three points in 2004 as seven-point underdogs. Led by MVP candidate Cam Newton, the No.1 scoring team in the regular season has 80 points in two playoff games.
It is not expected to be a high scoring game as two of the league’s best defensive teams go head-to-head at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, on Feb. 7. Arizona had the No.1 ranked offense in the regular season, but Carolina limited them to 15 points on Sunday while intercepting Carson Palmer four times. Denver ranked No.1 in regular-season defense, and they held Tom Brady and the Patriots to just 18 points as they advanced to Super Bowl 50.