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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.

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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