Oddsmakers learned their lesson this time around.
One 43-8 blowout later, and the Seahawks were the ones celebrating in MetLife Stadium with the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
This time, the bookies got it right. The Carolina Panthers are favored by almost a touchdown as of Tuesday in Super Bowl 50 against Peyton Manning’s Broncos, according to Odds Shark. Carolina won’t be playing an MVP version of Manning like the Seahawks did two years ago. All the Panthers, mainly Cam Newton, need to do is make enough plays against Denver’s stout defense.
That seems like a doable task.
Super Bowl 50 Odds, Total and TV Info
Matchup: Carolina Panthers vs. Denver Broncos
Line: Carolina -5.5
Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Odds and total per Odds Shark
Can the Panthers Cover?
This is the ultimate battle of the spread.
The Panthers and Broncos have played well while assuming the roles of favorites and underdogs, respectively. Joe Osborne from Odds Shark notes that Carolina is 9-3 in its last 12 games while favorites of at least six points. Meanwhile, the Broncos are 5-0-1 against the spread as underdogs, according to Osborne.
In short, going with either of these teams isn’t a bad choice. The Panthers covering the spread 75 percent of the time while listed as one-touchdown favorites is really good. That’s just as impressive as the Broncos taking care of business as underdogs.
Who will win Super Bowl 50?
Denver has played well against the likes of Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady. The Broncos defense, for as good as it is, has not played a quarterback the caliber of Newton.
Carolina’s franchise quarterback showed at the end of the season he can be more dangerous as a pocket passer than a dual-threat option. Since completing only 56 percent of his passes in the Panthers’ lone loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Dec. 27, Newton has completed an outstanding 73.7 percent in his last three games while throwing five touchdowns to only one interception.
To say this is a tough test for Denver's top-ranked defense is an understatement, and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is well aware of that, per Mike Klis of 9News in Denver:
Not only has Newton been effective in the passing game, but he's been even more lethal in the deep passing game. Pro Football Focus notes that Newton is the fourth most accurate quarterback in the NFL on passes of 20 yards or more (47.9 percent), with 11 touchdowns to only one interception.
Manning, on the other hand, has completed only 28.6 percent of passes of 20 yards or more, according to Pro Football Focus.
None of that can be done without the play of Carolina's offensive line. The Panthers' unit up front was ranked by Pro Football Focus as the second-best offensive line in the league with the fourth-best pass-blocking unit.
Look no further than the NFC Championship Game against the Arizona Cardinals. The Panthers took a 17-0 lead late in the first quarter on this strike from Newton to Corey Brown. Arizona brought a five-man blitz, in which Carolina picked it up with ease. Newton delivered a perfect strike to Brown, who only had the safety to beat for the long score.
Newton's play, along with Carolina's offensive line, are the perfect counterattacks for Denver's terrific pass rush led by Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware. The most Newton has been sacked in a game this year was five times against the Tennessee Titans, and the Panthers still won 27-10. Newton also threw only four incompletions and scored two touchdowns.
Denver has not played a quarterback like Newton. His ability to beat teams with his arm and legs presents a bigger challenge for the Broncos. And should Newton need to extend the play, that will work to Carolina's advantage if Denver sends more than four at a time on a blitz.
This seems like the kind of game where Newton will throw for 225 yards, run for nearly 100 and account for every Carolina touchdown. That's what will happen, and the Panthers will cover the spread like they've done for most of the year.
Carolina 27, Denver 17