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Unbeaten Panthers among betting favorites in Week 13

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The Carolina Panthers will be looking to remain the sole undefeated team in the NFL this season when they visit the New Orleans Saints on Sunday as 7-point betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Panthers improved their straight-up record to 11-0 last weekend with a lopsided 33-14 win over the Dallas Cowboys, easily covering as 1-point road favorites to extend their current against-the-spread win streak to four games.

Carolina has been almost as strong at the sportsbooks as they have been on the gridiron, taking a 9-2 ATS record, 5-0 ATS on the road, into Sunday afternoon’s Panthers vs. Saints betting matchup at Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The Panthers have been pegged as underdogs twice, and as favorites by 3.5 or fewer points on six additional occasions this season, despite winning by double-digit margins six times, and by an average of over 21 points per game in their last three.

However, one of their two ATS defeats came against the Saints, who covered as 10-point underdogs in a 27-22 loss in Week 3.

New Orleans followed up that contest with four SU wins in five games, but have struggled since, going winless SU and ATS in their last three, and has struggled to produce offense in their last two, tallying just 10 points per game in losses to Washington and Houston.

The club has compiled a respectable 3-1 SU record, 2-1-1 ATS, in their last four at home against Carolina, but are just 2-5 SU in their last seven meetings overall, 3-4 ATS, according to the OddsShark NFL Database.

The Minnesota Vikings can also earn greater respect at the sportsbooks with a win on Sunday, when they host the Seattle Seahawks as 1-point underdogs.

The 8-3 Vikings took sole possession of top spot in the NFC North last week with a 20-10 win over Atlanta, their third as betting underdogs in the last six weeks. Minnesota has also been pegged as 3-point chalk only twice this year, despite winning by an average margin of over nine points in their eight SU wins.

The 6-5 Seahawks have won four of five to return to playoff contention, but have just one win against teams with winning records, and are 1-2 SU and ATS in their last three visits to Minnesota.

In other NFL Week 13 betting action, the Green Bay Packers will try to keep pace with Minnesota when they visit the Detroit Lions on Thursday night as 3-point chalk, while the Falcons battle the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as 1-point underdogs, and the New England Patriots host the Philadelphia Eagles as 9.5-point favorites.

Bennett doesn’t fear backlash for skipping White House trip

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HOUSTON (AP) Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett says he is not worried about upsetting team owner Robert Kraft by not attending New England’s trip to the White House as Super Bowl champions.

Bennett said after the Patriots’ 34-28 win over the Falcons on Sunday night that he’s “not going to go” to the traditional meet-and-greet with the president. It will be the first visit of a Super Bowl champion to Washington since Donald Trump was sworn into office.

Trump’s positions have alienated some athletes, which has raised questions about whether some might choose to skip the trip while the new president is in office.

But Bennett said he isn’t concerned about it and thinks the team believes “in whatever I want to do.”

Kraft is a supporter of Trump and attended a celebration dinner in Washington for him the night before his inauguration.

Patriots’ Tom Brady earns 4th Super Bowl MVP trophy with epic comeback

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HOUSTON (AP) The greatest quarterback in NFL history led the biggest Super Bowl comeback to be the MVP on Sunday night.

Tom Brady rallied New England from a 25-point third-quarter deficit for a 34-28 win over the Atlanta Falcons in the first overtime game in Super Bowl history to earn his fifth Super Bowl title and fourth MVP trophy.

“They’re all sweet,” he said. “They’re all different and this was just an incredible team and I’m just happy to be a part of it,” he said.

Brady threw touchdown passes of 5 and 6 yards in the second half and tied things at 28-28 when he connected withDanny Amendola on a 2-point conversion with 57 seconds left.

He then directed the drive in overtime which ended with a 2-yard run by James White to make the Patriots the first team to win a Super Bowl after trailing by more than 10 points.

“We all brought each other back,” he said. “We never felt out of it. It was a tough battle.”

His performance certainly wasn’t without its struggles. His incredible second half and overtime came after a first half where the Patriots managed just three points and he threw an interception which Robert Alford returned 82 yards for a touchdown. He was hurried and harassed for much of the games. The Falcons sacked him five times and hit him on another eight occasions.

He noted the beating he took when he was trying to recount the details of the comeback and couldn’t remember what the score was at one point in the rally.

“There was a lot of (stuff) that happened tonight,” he said. “I got hit pretty hard.”

His 466 yards passing are a Super Bowl record, surpassing the 414 yards Kurt Warner had 17 years ago. He also set a record for most passes completed in a Super Bowl with 43 and most attempts with 62.

He is the first to play in seven Super Bowls and the victory ties him with Charles Haley for most Super Bowl rings.

After all Brady has done in his career, was this his finest moment?

“Tom’s had a lot of great ones,” coach Bill Belichick said. “But, yeah tonight was one of them.”

It’s a triumphant end to a difficult season for Brady, who missed the first four games because of his “Deflategate” suspension and dealt with his mother Galynn Brady suffering through an undisclosed illness. The Super Bowl was the first game she’s attended all season.

“They’re all happy,” he said fighting back tears. “It’s nice to have everybody here and it’s going to be a great celebration tonight.”

He shared a quick moment with her right after the game, but was looking forward to more time with her in the upcoming days.

“It’s kind of madness after the game so I didn’t get much quality time with her but we’ll get it this week,” he said.

But he certainly wasn’t asking for sympathy for his rough road to this title though, chuckling when someone asked about the adversity the Patriots have gone through in the past couple of years.

“We’ve done pretty good over the last few years … so I don’t think anyone’s feeling bad for the Patriots,” he said. “I don’t think anyone feels bad for the Patriots.”

Brady also collected the MVP trophy in 2001, 2003 and 2014.

“It was just a lot of mental toughness by our team and we’re going to remember this one for the rest of our lives,” Brady said.

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