Based on the spreads, lines and props out of Las Vegas, the most even thing about the Super Bowl encounter between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers is how the coin toss will play out.
Las Vegas seems to love Cam Newton and the Panthers at Levi's Stadium next week, and not just because it's the perfect capper to a magical season in which the team lost only one game while Newton ascended to status as the league's top quarterback.
In fact, it has little to do with who has the most attractive storyline, as Peyton Manning riding off into the sunset with another Lombardi Trophy hitched to the back of his bronco screams Hollywood.
No, this is all about the matchup. Here's a look at the game, some of the notable prop bets and how to bet various items out of Las Vegas.
When: Sunday, February 7, at 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: Levi's Stadium; Santa Clara, California
Spread: Carolina (-6)
Moneyline: Carolina (-115), Denver (-105)
Notable Prop Bets
|Coin Toss||Heads (-105), Tails (-105)|
|First Scoring Play||Touchdown (-145), Field Goal or Safety (+115)|
|First Touchdown Scorer||Cam Newton (+700), Greg Olsen (+750), Jonathan Stewart (+800), Demaryius Thomas (+900), etc.|
|MVP||Cam Newton (-130), Peyton Manning (+275), Luke Kuechly (+1400), Ted Ginn Jr. (+2000), etc.|
|How many times will "dab" or "dabbing" be said by the announcers during the broadcast?||Over 2 (E), Under 2 (-140)|
|Will Ted Ginn Jr. drop a pass?||Yes (-120), No (-120)|
|Will Denver win Super Bowl, Peyton Manning Retires, San Antonio wins NBA Championship, Tim Duncan Retires?||Yes (+2000)|
|Will Peyton Manning announce his retirement in the postgame interview?||Yes (+500), No (-1000)|
|Will Cam Newton break the Super Bowl record of most rushing yards by a QB? (64, Steve McNair)||Yes (+275), No (-450)|
Full list of prop bets available at Odds Shark.
The odds center on the Panthers in many ways for good reason.
Newton looks like the MVP by a mile. Folks will point out he had tight end Greg Olsen to lean on this year, but that doesn't change the fact that Ted Ginn Jr. (who has an interesting drop prop for good reason, by the way) was his No. 1 wideout.
It also doesn't change the fact that Newton amassed 45 total touchdowns in the regular season, rushing for 10 scores in the process. That number landed him at four more than lead back Jonathan Stewart, and his 636 yards came up just short behind Stewart's 989.
So no, no surprise Newton's favored to score the game's first touchdown, win MVP, the whole thing. No surprise Wade Phillips, defensive coordinator for the Broncos, heaped praise on Newton this week, according to James Palmer of NFL Network:
Wade Phillips walks to the podium and says I know you'll ask me have I seen anyone like Cam Newton "There isn't anyone like him".— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) January 29, 2016
There's a good reason Las Vegas has some of Newton's defenders so high on prop lists as well. So it goes when a front office managed to piece together and groom a core led by Luke Kuechly, Josh Norman and Kawann Short.
Other than a 49-15 whipping of the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game, the numbers speak for themselves:
Folks will also look at the infographic and see strong numbers for the Denver defense, which would explain why the various lines haven't gotten too far out of hand.
Though there are various reasons the Broncs excel on defense, rushers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware come to mind first, as the duo helped the unit secure 52 sacks this year.
In the 20-18 escape of the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, Denver sacked Tom Brady four times and picked him off twice while pulling double duty and limiting the Patriots to 44 rushing yards.
The attention, of course, goes to the Denver offense. Manning had his ups and downs against the Patriots, going 17-of-32 but tossing two touchdowns, with perhaps his name more than his play putting him a close second for the MVP award in the props.
The oldest quarterback to ever start a Super Bowl has a tough task on his hands against a turnover-happy Panthers defense, as ESPN Stats & Info pointed out:
Peyton Manning threw an INT on 5.1% of his pass att. this season, a career high & highest among qualified QBs. Panthers led NFL with 24 INT.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 29, 2016
Folks can see how Las Vegas and seemingly everyone frames this game. Either Manning will surprise and lead the Broncos to victory or he'll struggle and the Panthers will roll.
While it is always fun to take the underdog, Newton at +700 as the first scorer makes too much sense, as does his -130 shot at the MVP award. If there's that much success for the Auburn product, it makes plenty of sense to go with the over two at even odds when it comes to how many times the broadcasters say "dab" or "dabbing" and the over 2.5 at him doing the "open shirt Superman motion" during the game.
The spread has increased in Carolina's favor since opening lines came out for a reason. Manning figures to have a hard time getting rid of the ball before the Carolina rush hits home, especially with Norman and others in press coverage. Newton's viability as a rusher figures to limit Miller and Ware's effectiveness on the edges.
Bettors have plenty of opportunities to close the season with a bang given the immense amount of lines. But going against the house for the sake of doing so doesn't seem like such a great idea this time out, not with Newton and the Carolina defense bringing their dominant all-around game to San Francisco.
Prediction: Panthers 28, Broncos 20