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Denver Broncos right back in increasingly familiar role as underdogs

Ken Pomponio Avatar
January 26, 2016


Another game, another underdog designation for your Denver Broncos.

For the sixth time this season, and for the fifth time in their last 13 contests, the Orange & Blue are point-spread underdogs – this time as a 4- to 5.5-point pick to lose Super Bowl 50 against the NFC-champion Carolina Panthers.

The first opening lines were posted Sunday evening as the Panthers were putting the wraps on their 49-15 beatdown of the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC title game. And that rout, pared with what turned out to be a tight Broncos’ 20-18 win over the New England Patriots a few hours earlier, prompted bookmakers to bump up the Panthers knowing the recency bias of the majority of public bettors.

According to a report on VegasInsider.com, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook opened with the Panthers as 5.5-point favorites, but early betting action on the Broncos has dropped the number to -4.

The MGM, meanwhile, opened with Carolina as a 4.5-point favorite and they’ve crept up to -5 with early betting tickets coming in 6-to-1 in favor of the Panthers, according to the Vegas Insider article.

Offshore, the lines range from 4.5 to 5.5 after opening with the Panthers as 4-point favorites on most boards.

Still, that plays right into the mental psyche of the Broncos, who on Sunday were fueled by the fact that the overwhelming majority of national prognosticators sided with the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. New England entered the contest as field-goal favorites.

And with the win Sunday, the Broncos have won four of the five games this season in which they were underdogs, winning at Kansas City and beating the Patriots (twice) and the Packers at home. In the other contest, the Broncos lost a 27-10 lead and fell to the host Steelers 34-27, falling just short of covering the spread as six-point underdogs.

Prior to last season’s Super Bowl, which was a pick ’em, five of the previous seven Super Bowls were won by the underdog straight up, including the Giants which stunned the previously-unbeaten Patriots 17-14 as 12.5-point underdogs in Super Bowl XLII. That list, of course, also includes the Seahawks who walloped the 2.5-point-favored Broncos 43-8 two years ago.

The only two favorites to win in that span were the 2010 Packers (31-25 as field-goal favorites over the Steelers) and the 2008 Steelers (27-23 over the Cardinals as 6.5-point favorites). As you can see, though, the Cards covered the spread, making the underdog the profitable wager in six of the last seven Super Bowls to establish a favorite.

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