We now know the matchup for Super Bowl 50 - and despite the fact that the teams are the top seeds in their conference, anyone who says that they knew that these would be the teams before the season began is a liar. The game itself is still a long way off, and players and coaches from both Denver and Carolina will say and do things between now and game time that will lead us to question what we think about the game - that always happens to some extent.
For now, though, it seems like a good idea to kick off the road to this compelling Super Bowl matchup with some free 2016 Super Bowl picks. If nothing else, it gives us a shot at the relatively fresh lines before the betting public gets their hands all over them.
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1. The line
The early betting action in this one is squarely placed on one side of the game, and it has had a significant impact. More than 80 percent of early bets have been on the favored Panthers. Carolina opened as 3.5 point favorites, but it took less than 12 hours for the lopsided action to move that line upby as much as a full point. As I write it can still be found at four in spots but is widely at 4.5. The reaction is not at all surprising - bettors love offense, and the offensive showing of the Panthers was certainly more impressive than what the Broncos did. The Panthers also had star turns from a couple of big defensive players, so that lessens the impact of the potent Denver defense in the eyes of many. And then there is that whole thing about how good the Broncos really weren't the last time they were in the Super Bowl - with many of the same players they have now.
All that being said, I suspect that the action will even out somewhat. At the very least the line shouldn't keep climbing like it is, and there is a chance that it will settle down from where it is by a half point or a point.
This is the kind of betting situation to be patient in. I like the Panthers in this one. A lot. Their defense matches up well, and their offense is otherworldly lately - something that even the Denver defense will struggle to contain. They don't have a ton of experience in this situation, but I really trust their leadership, and the style of their coaching has been an ideal fit for them. I would be confident taking them while giving up anything less than a touchdown. We might as well wait for a while before making a bet, then. If the line does move down a bit then we are going to be happy, and if it doesn't show signs of stopping the climb then we can jump on it.
2. The total
The total hasn't stabilized yet between books, but it sits somewhere around 45 points. It's a tougher thing to handicap than others. Pretty much every trend there is points towards the "over" for the Panthers, and just as many trends point towards the "under" for the Broncos. How you view this total, then, depends particularly strongly on which team you expect to set the tone and how you see the game playing out. I lean towards the over because I like Carolina as much as I do, but I don't like the total is this game at all. There will be a lot more attractive betting opportunities than this one, so I would hold out for more value than the total offers.
3. The MVP
This one is interesting. Most props aren't listed yet as I write this. 5Dimes, though, has one MVP prop bet - Cam Newton is at -110 to win the Super Bowl MVP versus -110 for the rest of the field. At first glance being able to take all but one player for the same price as just one player could be attractive. I look at it differently, though. A strong majority of modern Super Bowl MVPs have been the winning quarterback. Newton is crucial to his team's success, and as the likely regular-season MVP he will get a massive amount of attention going into this game. It seems very likely that if the Panthers win it will be because Newton has a good day against the Denver defense. A strong effort by him will be deemed even more heroic after Tom Brady struggled so badly last week.
The Panthers are at -170 on the moneyline currently. Given the strong correlation between a Carolina win and a Newton MVP win, I would argue that betting this prop could be at least as attractive - and likely more attractive - than betting the moneyline. If the moneyline climbs at all then this will especially be the case.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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