It's almost as if Disney wrote the script for the 2016 Super Bowl with "fairy tale" floating around as one of the game's major buzzwords.
Clearly folks think it would befit the description if Peyton Manning, fresh off returning from an injury that got him benched and already besting rival Tom Brady in their 17th encounter, led the Denver Broncos to a Lombardi Trophy.
The rest feel the same about Cam Newton taking the last step up the ladder with one gigantic leap, capping off a nearly undefeated season by likely not only taking home the MVP award, but getting the Carolina Panthers a Super Bowl triumph.
There is plenty to like here, and especially for those who want to make the game even more interesting with the help of Las Vegas. In the early goings, here's how Las Vegas feels about the opening odds and props.
When: Sunday, February 7, at 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: Levi's Stadium; Santa Clara, California
Spread: Carolina (-6)
Prop Favorites and Point Spread Analysis
With the Pro Bowl draft hardly in the books, Las Vegas hasn't unleashed the full wrath of prop bets just yet.
Rest assured, though, the fun stuff is on the way—like whether the national anthem gets goofed, how many times Newton smiles, whether the first team to score will win, what the game's first score will be, what mishap befalls the halftime performance. All the good stuff.
For right now, bettors have to focus on the game itself, which isn't such a bad thing. For the moneyline prop, Carolina at 10-21 odds and Denver at 7-4 reflects the spread pretty well. Bettors will have to decide which way to go there and may want to peek at the MVP prop, courtesy of Odds Shark, first:
|Ted Ginn Jr.||+2200|
Newton hasn't just evolved the quarterback position to a new level this season—a statement alone that may be scoffed at, but those who do must understand the Auburn product accounted for 45 total touchdowns with Ted Ginn Jr. as his No. 1 wideout.
No, he's also made an outright mockery out of most legitimate competition, too, with ESPN Stats & Info offering up just one example of how badly Newton shredded the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game, a 49-15 rout:
Cam Newton's 88.4 Total QBR was 83.4 pts better than Carson Palmer's Sunday, the 2nd-largest QBR disparity in a playoff game last 10 seasons— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 25, 2016
So no, the odds don't have a mistake on their hands here. An elite Von Miller-led defense might have sacked Brady four times and picked him off twice in the AFC Championship Game, but Newton presents more of a threat to escape a rush, or at the least keep it honest.
If not Newton, bettors could do worse than picking Manning. Granted, he hasn't looked great as of late—hardly completing 50 percent of his passes with two touchdowns against New England—but if one really wants to go all-in on the fairy-tale theme, one of the best quarterbacks of all time saving his best for last and riding off into the sunset certainly makes for a worthwhile bet.
While Newton seems like the overwhelming obvious choice, this year at least provides plenty of high-upside factors worth considering. Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly will be all over the field making plays. The aforementioned Miller, after seemingly keeping Brady in check on his own, could always provide a spark and maybe even a defensive touchdown. Ditto for Carolina corner Josh Norman.
Speaking of spark plays that could change the game and reel in an MVP award, don't forget about someone like Ginn. It was a breakout season for the Ohio State product with his 44 catches for 739 yards and 10 touchdowns, but what folks should really fixate on is his 16.8 yards-per-catch average. Again, one big play might be all that it takes.
It's not hard to see how the MVP talk loops into the game itself. One of the early common themes—and one sure to elbow itself even more room when more props come out—is the fact Manning just doesn't look like Manning anymore.
Like it or not, it's true. It's also something that might decide the game outright. Manning won't have the luxury of leaning on his ground game this time out. Not against this Carolina defense.
When he has to make throws, which figure to come under pressure given how often the Panthers can generate pressure without bringing an extra rusher, accuracy will be key—a bad sign considering he hasn't completed better than 56.8 percent of his passes in his three games back.
Newton won't have these issues. He's hardly been hit all postseason despite playing the elite defenses of the Seattle Seahawks and the Cardinals. There's a reason for that: his ability to avoid pressure and hit big plays down the field, if not create them with his feet.
Maybe it's boring from a betting standpoint, but Newton and the Panthers are the only way to go for MVP and outright winner, respectively. Ditto for the spread, even though it continues to climb higher by the day.
The more folks seem to dig into the numbers, the more it seems Newton and the Panthers will distance themselves and provide a breath of fresh air in the Super Bowl scene. Bettors should act accordingly.
Prediction: Panthers 28, Broncos 20