Super Bowl 50 Betting: CAROLINA PANTHERS vs. DENVER BRONCOS (2/7)

PRO FOOTBALL — February 7

THE SUPER BOWL @ Santa Clara, CA
CAROLINA vs. DENVER

(America’s Bookie Line: Panthers -4.5, Total 43.5) — This could be a much more lengthy analysis, but we would like to keep things basic. We know that Denver has to have some very specific objectives going into this game. One of them might be to make Carolina one-dimensional on offense. That’s not easy, because the Panthers are about 50-50 as far as their run-past distribution is concerned. But Denver is well-equipped to stop them either way, allowing only 3.3 yards per carry and possessing not only great corners but also, arguably, the best pass rush in the NFL. Can Wade Phillips concoct a plan to keep Cam Newton under wraps? Well, Newton will make his plays, but we don’t think he will run wild. His receivers are not the most threatening group in the league, at least out on the flanks. Aqib Talib and Chris Harris can take care of them. So there is pressure on tight end Greg Olson (77 catches, 1104 yards).

One of the other things the Broncos absolutely have to do is to avoid giving Carolina a short field via the turnover. Only two teams coughed the ball up more than Denver did this season, and that resulted in a minus-2 turnover ratio. That obviously pales in comparison to Carolina’s +28 in the same category. Interestingly enough, Carolina was only 12th in the NFL in yards gained per drive, but first in points scored per drive. So obviously if you can play relatively mistake-free football you are snatching away a big part of their game. Expect that the Broncos will be conservative on offense, running the football is much as possible, as we know that Peyton Manning probably can’t take a lot of shots down the field anymore, and has been playing a safety-conscious game lately, with 78 consecutive passing attempts without an interception.

Actually, both of these teams are likely to emphasize the ground attack; Carolina had at least 30 rushing attempts in 16 of their 18 games, see you can pretty much conclude that they are going to do that no matter what. Denver has a decent running back combo in Ronnie Hillman (863 yards) and CJ Anderson (720 yards). They might be content to play the field position game and hope that their defense can make things more difficult than usual for Newton, who has 24 touchdown passes and only two interceptions over his last 10 games but has also only accounted for 61.2% of his team’s total yardage by way of his arm.

We also believe that the field will be a factor. In each of the last two seasons, Levi’s Stadium has had difficulties with the turf, which has been replaced numerous times. They have even canceled practices because of it. The real problem might be in the sand/gravel surface underneath, and there may not be a whole lot anyone can do about it because of the moisture in the area. Teams who came into this venue were much less offensively proficient than usual; to illustrate that, the San Francisco 49ers allowed 31.5 points per game on the road this season, but only 16.8 points per contest at home. Games in this park have averaged only 31.1 points, and last year the averaged just 39.9. Only one team – the Cincinnati Bengals – scored more than 20 points in Levi’s Stadium this season, and there were a lot of playoff squads who came through, including Minnesota (3), Green Bay (17), Seattle (20) and Arizona (19), in addition to the Atlanta Falcons, who handed Carolina their only defeat and went down to a defeat of their own at Levi’s Stadium by a 17-16 score.

So what are we saying here? Think “total” on this one.

PLAY BY JAY: UNDER 43.5 ***

(All information is for news matter only; All games are graded on a scale of 1-4 stars. Lines are subject to change)