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Sportsbooks name Panthers early Super Bowl 50 betting favorites over Broncos

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After turning in a 49-15 destruction of the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game, the Carolina Panthers are headed to their first Super Bowl since 2004, where they will take on the AFC champion Denver Broncos as early 4.5-point betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Carolina knocked off the Cardinals in the postseason for a second straight year, easily covering as 3-point chalk to extend their current against-the-spread winning streak to three games ahead of their upcoming matchup with the Broncos in Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium.

The Panthers are averaging 40 points over two playoff games, extending their trend as the highest-scoring team in the NFL after averaging 31.3 points per game in the regular season.

But while Carolina has been unbeatable at home, winners of 13 in a row straight up, they have been slightly less dominant in contests away from Bank of America Stadium.

The Panthers suffered their lone defeat of the season in their last road contest, a 20-13 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 16, and are winless ATS in their last three on the road, surrendering an average of 28.7 points per game during that stretch while eking out narrow 3-point wins in their previous two road dates, according to the OddsShark NFL Database.

Meanwhile, the Broncos silenced the naysayers once again with their 20-18 win over New England in the AFC title game, rewarding bettors as 3-point underdogs in their second conference championship clash with the Patriots in three years.

While Carolina put their vaunted offensive machine on display in their win over Arizona, the Broncos showed why they were among the leaders in team defense this season, putting constant pressure on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, which resulted in a pair of interceptions and four sacks.

The SU victory is the fourth straight for the Broncos following a lackluster regular-season homestretch, where they dropped four of their previous seven and ended their five-game ATS winless streak.

Denver held opponents to just 18.4 points per game but tallied under 22 points per game during their recent ATS slide, and have now seen the point total play UNDER in five of their past seven outings.

Super Bowl 50 marks the first meeting between the Panthers and Broncos since November 2012, and just the fifth meeting all-time between the two teams. Denver holds a 3-1 SU edge in head-to-head meetings with the Panthers, holding Carolina to 17 points or fewer in those victories, although the clubs are even at 2-2 ATS.

Broncos double-digit favorites on Sunday night vs. winless, depleted Giants

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The Denver Broncos head into Sunday night with the largest spread they have had at home after a bye week in at least 25 years. The Broncos are 11.5-point favorites against the winless New York Giants with a 38.5-point total for the Week 6 Sunday Night Football matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Denver is 6-1 straight-up and against the spread in post-bye week games dating back to 2010. There’s a similar long-running trend of Denver being 7-2 SU and ATS in home games following a bye week since 2003. However, this is the first time since 1996 that Denver has been a double-digit favorite in that scenario.

The Giants, which are 0-5 SU and 2-3 ATS, had three wide receivers, including Odell Beckham Jr., sustain season-ending injuries last week. That has left QB Eli Manning with WR Roger Lewis (15 career catches) and WR Tavarres King as his main outside targets. Slot WR Sterling Shephard (sprained ankle) could be inactive.

While team performances tend to gravitate toward the mean with time, the Giants will need to show something new – with replacement-level personnel – in order to move the ball against a Denver pass defense which allows only 6.2 yards per pass, fifth-best in the NFL.

The Broncos’ top-ranked defense, led by OLB Von Miller, is also first in run defense and has every starter healthy. While NFC teams are a combined 1-10 SU on the road against Denver since 2012, the Giants are a solid 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games against the AFC.

Denver, 3-1 SU and 2-1-1 ATS, has been quietly efficient on offense. The Broncos, with QB Trevor Siemian, are in the middle of the NFL pack in yards per pass, but they are facing a Giants secondary that is minus CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (suspension) and has also had inconsistent play from CB Eli Apple.

Denver, 7-2 ATS over its last nine home games in October, has been good at opening holes for the tandem of C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles, who are each capable of making things happen in the open field if the tackling gets sloppy. New York also won’t have DT Olivier Vernon drawing double teams up front and keeping blockers off MLB Damon Harrison.

Unless the Broncos stop themselves, they should be able to grind out a workmanlike win.

The total has gone over in three of the Giants’ last four games against the Broncos, according to the OddsShark NFL Database. The total has gone over in six of the Broncos’ last seven games as a favorite of 11.0 points or more.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Watch Indianapolis Colts vs. Seattle Seahawks live on NBC

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The Seattle Seahawks host the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday Night Football as both teams look to get back to .500.

Russell Wilson will be the focal point of the Seahawks offense after throwing for a career-high 373 yards and four touchdowns in a losing effort vs. the Titans in Week 3. Wilson’s ability to avoid the rush and use his legs will be on full display as Seattle’s offensive line continues to struggle.

On the defensive side, the Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom” will look to get back on track at home in a raucous environment against Colts QB Jacoby Brissett who is filling in for an injured Andrew Luck.

If the Colts have any chance to pull off the upset on the road, Brissett will have to use his legs and connect on some deep throws to T.Y. Hilton.

Football Night in America

Start time: 7:00 p.m. ET

TV channel: NBC

Live stream: NBCSports.com, NBC Sports app

Colts vs. Seahawks

Start time: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV channel: NBC

Live stream: NBCSports.com, NBC Sports app