If you listen to the oddsmakers, the high-octane Denver Broncos are your early favorite to win Super Bowl XLVIII.
Despite the fact that the big game will be played outside in a cold-weather city, Peyton Manning and the NFL's top-ranked offense are the popular pick to upend the Seattle Seahawks, who led the league in defense during the regular season.
But with kickoff more than a week away and weather conditions still uncertain, a lot can change.
Below we'll break down the early betting line for Super Bowl XLVIII.
Date: Sunday, February 2, 2014
Start Time: 6:25 p.m. ET
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
Betting Info (according to VegasInsider)
Line: Denver (-2.5) over Seattle
Broncos Favored by a Field Goal
It's hard to take issue with a lot of the early spreads from around the web favoring the Broncos. In addition to Manning and a balanced offensive attack, Denver boasts a stout defense that has stepped up immensely in the postseason, surrendering just 579 total yards and 33 total points in two playoff wins.
Seattle's defense has been just as superb in wins over the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints, but the Seahawks offense has left a lot to be desired, racking up just 27 first downs in two playoff games, the same number Denver accumulated in its AFC Championship Game win over New England.
So while the Seahawks are a dangerous team built around their elite defense and rushing attack, the Broncos seem to be hitting their stride at the ideal time.
Below, Pregame.com's R.J. Bell breaks down how the Broncos have fared as favorites as of late:
You have to go all the way back to Week 5 of the 2012 regular season to find the last time Denver was an underdog. While the Broncos have gone 25-4 since then, the Seahawks are 24-7, making the task of picking a winner that much more difficult.
Over-Under Too Tough to Call
Based on how both of these teams have fared in the postseason, there's no arguing a 47-point over-under.
The Seahawks averaged 26.1 points per game during the regular season and are averaging 23 points during the postseason. Meanwhile, the Broncos, who led the league at 37.9 points per game during the regular season, are averaging 25 points per game in the playoffs.
In the 2014 playoffs, neither team has scored less than 23 points or more than 26 points.
As Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman points out via his column in The MMQB, this is a matchup of the No. 1 offense vs. the No. 1 defense:
It’s the No. 1 offense vs. the No. 1 defense. It’s a match made in heaven, and we couldn’t be more excited. If you’re any kind of competitor and you have any kind of dog about you, you want to play against the best. Finally, we get the opportunity.
While it may be a match made in heaven for football fans, it's a challenging one for bettors. Since there's no telling which top-ranked unit will win out in the end, picking the over-under is no easy task in this case.
Under seems to be the safer bet given how both defenses have been playing in January, but with a future Hall of Fame passer in Manning leading the NFL's most prolific offense, you'd be wise to mull it over.
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