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Panthers, Patriots co-favorites in latest Super Bowl odds

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The undefeated Carolina Panthers picked up some company atop the Super Bowl 50 odds this week, with the New England Patriots gaining ground following their 27-6 win over Houston to join them as 15/4 favorites to win the championship.

The victory over the Texans was a much-needed shot in the arm for the 11-2 Patriots, who came up short in their two previous outings against Denver and Philadelphia, ending a 13-game straight-up winning streak and temporarily knocking them from their familiar perch as Super Bowl betting favorites.

Injuries continue to be a concern for the Patriots, who return home this weekend to take on the struggling Tennessee Titans.

While tight end Rob Gronkowski returned to action against the Texans, New England will still be without receiver Julian Edelman and rusher LeGarrette Blount for Sunday afternoon’s Titans vs. Patriots betting matchup at Gillette Stadium.

The Panthers are contending with injury issues of their own following last weekend’s 38-0 rout of the Atlanta Falcons, with tight end Greg Olsen and rusher Jonathan Stewart both considered questionable for Sunday’s clash with the New York Giants.

But the Panthers look to be gaining momentum down the stretch, going 4-1 against the spread in their past five games, including two ATS wins while favored by seven or more points.

The NFC West-leading Arizona Cardinals remain close on the favorites’ heels, holding steady with 13/2 Super Bowl odds.

The 11-2 Cardinals have won seven straight SU, and can clinch the division crown with a win in Philadelphia on Sunday night. However, Arizona has struggled at the sportsbooks of late, with just one ATS victory in their last four overall, and a 1-4 ATS record in their last five when favored by seven points or more.

Winners of four straight, the resurgent Seattle Seahawks join the Cardinals at 13/2 on the updated Super Bowl betting lines, followed by the resilient Pittsburgh Steelers at 15/2, while the NFC North-leading Green Bay Packers round out the top teams, unchanged at 10/1 following their second straight win.

The AFC West-leading Denver Broncos follow at 12/1, ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs at 16/1, and the Cincinnati Bengals, who have tumbled to 20/1.

Losers of two straight, the Indianapolis Colts have fallen to 50/1, joined by the Giants, Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, and New York Jets, and ahead of the Texans at 100/1, the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys at 150/1, and the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Buffalo Bills at 300/1, while the Falcons and Oakland Raiders pull up the rear, each sporting distant 500/1 odds.

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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