2017 Super Bowl Odds - Superbowl 51 Line

New Parlay Odds at BetOnline

The NFL celebrates fifty years of Super Bowl competition as the Denver Broncos take on the Carolina Panthers at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California on Sunday, February 7.   There are a number of compelling storylines surrounding this game and involving both teams.  The Carolina Panthers are trying to complete a dominating 15-1 season with the franchise's first Super Bowl title.  They're already in some impressive company just by making the game:  they're the second team to make the Super Bowl with a 15-1 record.  The previous 15-1 Super Bowl entrant?  The 1985 Chicago Bears, considered by many to be the best team in NFL history.  The Denver Broncos are shooting for their third Super Bowl title but their first since 1998.  Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning won a Super Bowl (and the game MVP award) with the Indianapolis Colts in 2006.  He's a major part of the storyline here, however, as he's likely going to retire after this season.  Winning the Super Bowl in his final game would be the perfect ending to a Hall of Fame career.


Last year's Super Bowl matchup between Seattle and New England had a 'Pick'em' pointspread and that greatly simplifies the handicapping process—you just have to 'pick the winner'.  That's not the case this year as the Super Bowl 50 pointspread opened with Carolina a -4 point favorite and there's been nothing but 'one sided' action on the Panthers ever since.  Despite the six point spread in this game it's never a bad handicapping idea to just try to come up with the outright Super Bowl betting winner.   Only four times has the outright winner failed to cash pointspread bets most recently in 2009 when the Pittsburgh Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII 27-23 over the Arizona Cardinals but failed to cover as a -7 favorite.  In other words, by betting on the team you think will win the game without regard to the pointspread you'd be heading into Super Bowl 50 with a record of 40-6-3 (81.6%)! 

A few more Super Bowl pointspread trends of interest:  favorites and underdogs are evenly divided among Super Bowl winners (22-23-2 against the spread) but recent trends are dramatically different.  Super Bowl underdogs are currently on a 10-3 run against the spread.  It's worth noting, however, that favorites in this Super Bowl spread category have a great record—teams laying between -3' and -6' points are 8-4 against the spread. 


A player's position on the Super Bowl 50 over/under total will have a lot to do with their opinion on who will win the game.  Denver isn't going to win a shootout with Carolina.  Conversely, if the Broncos can't control the tempo and keep the ball out of Cam Newton's hands it could be a field day for the Panthers.  Sports betting experts call this a 'correlated parlay' and each team's past performance data validates the Panthers to the OV/Broncos to the UN logic.  Only five of the Panthers eighteen games to date have gone Under the total (one push) while only six of the Broncos' contests have gone Over (one push).  This strategy isn't a huge secret but note that there hasn't been the same one sided action on the total that we've seen on the side.  Despite a flood of money on the Panthers the total has held steady after opening at 45 with the majority of books actually moving downward by a half point.  This isn't an especially strange betting pattern (for reasons we'll discuss momentarily) but worth keeping in mind while you monitor total price movements heading up until game time.


The nature of Super Bowl betting has changed dramatically over the past couple of decades. Before the turn of the century, the money would show for the favorite almost immediately after sportsbooks opened Super Bowl betting. The logic was that the ‘public’ wanted to quickly get down on the perceived ‘better team’. The favorite would run up a bit and then money would show for the underdog later in the betting cycle. This money was usually thought to be ‘sharp’ money timing their bets for the best price.

This dynamic has changed significantly for a number of reasons (risk adverse bookmaking philosophies, Nevada's diminished status in the sports betting ecosystem, greater awareness of marketplace dynamics among the betting public).  At this point, it's hard to generalize about line movements.  Las Vegas bookmakers have a keen understanding of which clients are 'sharp' players.  To date, most report that they haven't seen a strong movement of 'sharp' money on either side of the game.  Twenty-five years ago that might have been significant and portent a last minute flood of Denver money.   Today, it's not possible to have reached the same conclusion.  There's too many places for 'sharp money' to bet for one thing and given advents like the myriad Super Bowl prop bets, live wagering, bet exchange marketplaces, etc. too many different ways to bet the game.

It might be incorrect to come to any conclusions at all based on early line movement due to a well known reality about NFL betting in general and Super Bowl betting in particular:  more than 90% of betting action comes in the final 24 hours before kickoff meaning that any assumption based on previous line movement could quickly be rendered irrelevant.