From a passing perspective, this would be a much more compelling Super Bowl if time travel were invented. Newton as he is now against the Manning of three years ago would be must-see TV. As it is, the QB battle in this game appears to be a bit of a mismatch - an MVP against a shadow of a former one. There are a lot of factors, though, that make passing prop bets far more compelling than they might seem on the surface. Here's a breakdown of some of the more compelling Super Bowl passing props (all odds are from 5Dimes):
Cam Newton passing yards "over/under" 235.5: First, the raw numbers. He went over this total 10 times in 19 games, so it is a well-set number. Despite their stout defensive reputation, the Broncos allowed more than this many yards seven times on the year, so it is possible to pass against them. Most notably, Ben Roethlisberger torched them for 354 and 311 yards in two appearances. I'm not worried that it is impossible to pass against the Broncos - it's not. The offense doesn't necessarily rely on a big day from Newton, though. The biggest proof is the Seattle playoff game - they scored 31 points but he passed for just 161 yards and a touchdown. But then he had 335 against the Cardinals. You can make an argument - a good one - for either side in this bet. That's why the number is well set and why I don't have much interest in betting on it. If I was forced to, though, I would take the over - I am generally bullish about the Carolina offense here and anticipate them trying to get an early lead to force Manning to become more active than passive.
Cam Newton throws an interception ("yes" -145, "no" +125): Newton has thrown an interception in just two of his last 10 games. The one thing the Denver defense isn't great at is picking off opposing passers - they are tied for 13th in the league with fewer than one per game. At this price I'd happily take a shot at the no.
Peyton Manning passing yards o/u 237.5: One thing that is relevant here is that while the Denver defense gets the credit for being so good, they are tied atop the league standings with one other team for the lowest yards per attempt allowed - and that other team is Carolina. This is a tougher passing test than the last two games have been. I feel like we can only really look at Manning's last two games - they are the only two starts since the injury/benching, so they are the only ones that happened with Manning in the same basic physical shape. From a passing perspective they weren't inspiring. He had 222 yards and a 56.8 percent completion rate against the Steelers and 176 yards and a lower completion rate, but two scores, against the Patriots. He has not fared well against lesser defenses - though he hasn't had a pick after having 17 in his first nine outings. You could argue that Manning could be fired up for what is quite possibly his final game. Of course, you have to balance that with his playoff performances that haven't exactly overwhelmed as a rule. Add it all up and I sure would struggle to find a reason to take the over. The under seems like a comfortable play.
Peyton Manning throws an interception (yes -220, no +180): Manning has 11 starts. He has thrown picks in nine of them but not in the last two. He's up against the defense that led the league in interceptions - with 1.5 per game in the regular season and three per game in the playoffs. They got in the head of Russell Wilson, and they gave Carson Palmer one of his worst days as a pro. There is a reason that the yes is such a heavy favorite. The price isn't ridiculous - especially if you like the Panthers and expect them to be able to score early and cause Manning to try to make things happen.
Denver pass completions o/u 21.5: The last time Manning went over this total was Oct. 18, and that was against the Browns, so it hardly counts. He has had 21 attempts three times in just six appearances since, though. Again, if you like the Panthers then you might suspect that Manning will be forced to pass to stay close. I like the over slightly.
Different Denver players to catch a pass o/u 8: The over is the underdog here at +110. He found eight receivers in his last game and nine the week before. I expect him to have to pass, so I don't see him going away from what has worked the last two weeks. I like the over here.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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