Patriots, Panthers sitting atop updated Super Bowl 50 odds

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After clinching a fifth straight berth in the AFC Championship Game the New England Patriots have returned to the top of the Super Bowl 50 odds, deadlocked with the Carolina Panthers at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Patriots halted a worrisome two-game straight-up losing streak with a 27-20 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs last weekend, covering as 6-point chalk for just their third against-the-spread win in their past nine outings.

New England now travels to Denver for Sunday afternoon’s Patriots vs. Broncos betting matchup as 3.5-point chalk and strong -170 moneyline favorites to earn a second straight Super Bowl berth, and their third in the last five years.

The Broncos enter the weekend on a 6-2 SU run following a 23-16 comeback win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, setting the stage for a rematch of the 2014 AFC Championship Game in which they claimed a 26-16 win as 4.5-point favorites.

But this time Denver sits as the underdog, sporting +400 odds of emerging as Super Bowl champions for the first time since 1999, and set at +140 to earn their second Super Sunday appearance in three years.

Denver has emerged victorious in two of their last three games against the Patriots, but has struggled overall, going 3-6 SU and ATS in their past nine meetings according to the OddsShark NFL Database.

In the NFC, the Carolina Panthers have seen their Super Bowl betting line rise dramatically on the strength of a 31-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks in their Divisional Playoff matchup. The Panthers won a league-leading 15 regular-season games, but lagged behind the Super Bowl favorites until closing the gap in early December.

Carolina has been particularly dominant at home, going 12-0 SU and 8-4 ATS in their past 12, and now sits as a -175 favorite to punch their ticket to their first Super Bowl since falling 32-29 to the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

However, the Panthers must first get past the Arizona Cardinals, whom they face in this weekend’s NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium as 3.5-point chalk.

The Cardinals finished second only to Carolina in the NFC regular season standings with a 13-3 SU record, and are 10-1 SU in their past 11 games including last weekend’s 26-20 win over the Green Bay Packers.

Arizona is a +145 underdog in just their second all-time NFC Championship Game appearance, and sit alongside the Broncos at +400 to claim the first Super Bowl title in franchise history.

Don Ohlmeyer, longtime network TV executive, dies at 72

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INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) — Don Ohlmeyer, the “Monday Night Football” producer who came up with the phrase “Must See TV” in leading NBC to the No. 1 prime-time spot, died Sunday. He was 72.

“It is with heavy hearts we share that Don Ohlmeyer, our beloved husband, father and grandfather, has passed away at age of 72 due to cancer,” Ohlmeyer’s family said in a statement. “Surrounded by loved ones, he died peacefully at his home in Indian Wells.”

Longtime friend Al Michaels announced Ohlmeyer’s death while broadcasting NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” game between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants.

Ohlmeyer won 16 Emmys, including the Lifetime Achievement Award, and two Peabody Awards.

Ohlmeyer became producer of “MNF” in 1972, teaming with director Chet Forte and the on-air crew of Howard Cosell, Don Meredith and Frank Gifford. In 2000 in his second “MNF” stint, Ohlmeyer put comedian Dennis Miller in the booth.

Ohlmeyer first worked for ABC Sports as a gofer while studying at Notre Dame and became a full-time production assistant in 1967 under Roone Arledge, working on “Wide World of Sports.” Along with his “Monday Night Football” work, he directed the network’s Olympic coverage and created “The Superstars.” Later at NBC Sports, he produced World Series and Super Bowl broadcasts.

After running his own Ohlmeyer Communications Company, he returned to NBC in 1993 as president of its entertainment division. He came up with “Must See TV” in the 1990s, when NBC’s rating soared with such hits as “Seinfeld,” ”Friends,” ”ER” and “Frasier.”

Watch Live: New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys on NBC

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The Dallas Cowboys host the New York Giants in a battle of NFC East rivals on Sunday Night Football.

Despite going 13-3 and earning the No. 1 seed in the playoffs last year, the Cowboys lost twice to the Giants in 2016, including a loss in Week 1. Dallas hopes to not have a repeat of last year and will rely on sophomores Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott to carry the load. Don’t be surprised if Elliott gets even more carries in this game because there is a possibility his six-game suspension is upheld and he will have plenty of time to rest up before he sees game action again.

The Giants will rely on their strong defense led by DB Landon Collins and DE Jason Pierre-Paul to try and get after Prescott and bottle up Elliott. On offense, New York is all about Eli Manning and the passing attack. Odell Beckham Jr. is expected to suit up, but it remains to be seen how big of a role he will have after injuring his ankle in the preseason. As a result, look for new additions WR Brandon Marshall and rookie TE Evan Engram, to go along with sophomore WR Sterling Shepard to step up for Manning.

Football Night in America

Start time: 7:00 p.m. ET

TV channel: NBC

Live stream: NBCSports.com, NBC Sports app

Giants vs. Cowboys

Start time: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV channel: NBC

Live stream: NBCSports.com, NBC Sports app