Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, February 5, 2016 at 7:00 PM
It’s been a long time since Super Bowl betting was this one-sided for this long. The public started betting the Carolina Panthers as soon as a number went up on the board. And, they’ve kept right on betting them through the bulk of the fortnight. Maybe Super Bowl Weekend will see a change in momentum. Or, maybe sportsbooks will be desperately rooting for the Broncos, just as they were in the AFC Championships against New England.
JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats have served us very well over the years in the playoffs and Super Bowls. Let’s see what they’re saying about Sunday’s landmark event. Is the public right that Carolina is a lock? Or, is the public wrong just like they were with the Patriots two Sundays ago?
Denver: 12-4 (#11 ranked schedule according to Sagarin)
Carolina: 15-1 (#32 ranked schedule according to Sagarin)
Carolina played the weakest regular season schedule in the league according to Jeff Sagarin of USA Today. That obviously didn’t hurt them in easy home playoff wins over Seattle and Carolina. So…that stat could be something you throw out. On the other hand, Carolina is just now playing its first game away from home this postseason. Maybe not being battle tested is going to matter more on the other side of the country at a very tricky site for offenses. Denver played the much tougher schedule during the season…and just knocked off Ben Roethisberger and Tom Brady. For now, hard to justify Carolina as a “lock,” or even as a team that should be favored by this much. Denver is about as battle tested as it gets…and its 14-4 straight up through 18 games.
Denver: 5.4 on offense, 4.4 on defense
Carolina: 5.5 on offense, 4.9 on defense
Big edge to Denver here in poinstpread terms. They were +1.0 per play compared to just +0.6 for Carolina, while playing the much tougher schedule! How can they be such a big dog? If you believe that “defense wins championships,” then you can see why both teams just won their conference championships. You can also see that Denver has the better of it head-to-head. Were this game played a few weeks ago…a line in the 5-6 range for Carolina wouldn’t have made any sense. The Panthers really have looked terrific in the postseason though, while Denver’s offense has struggled. Let’s look just at the playoffs.
Denver: lost YPP to Pittsburgh 6.7 to 4.6, and to New England 4.4 to 3.8
Carolina: lost YPP to Seattle 6.2 to 4.6, but routed Arizona 7.2 to 4.8
Wow…Denver’s offense could only manage 4.6 and 3.8 yards-per-play against defenses that probably aren’t as good as Carolina’s. That’s part of why the market is disrespecting the Broncos so much.
2015 Turnover Differential
And, now we get to the category that could signal a blowout for the favorite. Carolina’s opportunistic defense has been GREAT at forcing turnovers, while Denver’s sluggish offense has been horrible at protecting the ball. Peyton Manning turned into a turnover machine this year, which is why he knows it’s time to retire. The Broncos did win this category in both AFC games (0-1 vs. Pittsburgh and 1-2 vs. New England). They’ll very likely have to win it again this Sunday to spring an upset. Distressing that you’ve heard a lot more from the media about Cam Newton’s end zone celebrations than you have about how well he’s been protecting the ball. He has played like a champion to this point, even if you don’t like his zest for life.
2015 Market Performance
Denver: 8-8 ATS (6-9-1 to the Under)
Carolina: 11-5 ATS (10-5-1 to the Over)
Carolina’s “team and Over” trend from the regular season has continued strong into 2016. They beat Seattle and Arizona by scores of 31-24 sand 49-15. So, we’re looking at 13-5 ATS and 12-5-1 ATS for the regular season and playoffs combined. That’s 25-10-1 overall. Another reason the public wants to bet Carolina is that they’ve been making money that way all season! Denver played two more Unders because of that great defense and sluggish offense. A split ATS has them at 9-9 as a team and 6-11-1 to the Under for the regular season and playoffs combined.
Current Line: Carolina by 5.5, total of 45
Our indicators are suggesting that this one could turn out to be extreme in either direction. When Carolina is clicking…they drive games Over. Also, when Carolina is clicking, they force a lot of turnovers from opponents! You saw that against Carson Palmer in the NFC title tilt. Peyton Manning just isn’t a guy who can play from behind this season. This could easily be a virtual replay of Seattle’s slaughter of Denver two years ago. On the other hand…safe, conservative Denver has a chance to grind out a low scoring upset if they can avoid mistakes and disrupt Newton. This could be a 16-16 coin flip in the fourth quarter that Denver ultimately wins. Or, this could also be a virtual replay of how the NY Giants with Peyton’s brother Eli knocked off explosive New England twice. Truly extreme possibilities.
Obviously “Carolina and Over” or “Denver and Under” make sense as combos depending on who’s going to control game flow. Your job as handicappers is to make that assessment then place your Las Vegas bets accordingly.
JIM HURLEY’s job is to make sure his NETWORK clients GET THE SIDE AND TOTAL WINNERS! He and his full team of experts have been working around the clock through the fortnight to cover the game from every angle. When the picks go up this weekend…you’ll know you’re getting your money’s worth!
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Once the big game is in the books…we’ll be focused very intently on college basketball through the Big Dance. We hope you’ll keep visiting the NOTEBOOK for tips and insights. For now…all eyes are on the Super Bowl. LET’S GO GET THE MONEY!
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