Panthers Super Bowl LI betting favorites despite defeat

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Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers came up short in Super Bowl 50 on Sunday despite being the clear betting favorites for the contest at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Panthers, however, are expected to be contenders for the title once again next season, as they opened among the favorites on the odds to win Super Bowl LI at the sportsbooks.

Carolina fell 24-10 to Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Santa Clara on Sunday, with Newton completing just 18 of his 41 pass attempts for 265 yards against the smothering Denver defense with no touchdowns and one interception. Newton also ran for 45 yards on six carries, while Jonathan Stewart ran for 29 yards and scored the team’s lone touchdown.

The Panthers had the best record in the NFL during the regular season at 15-1, and completed their campaign at 17-2 straight up and 13-6 against the spread. So despite their stumble at Super Bowl 50 the Panthers still opened as +900 co-favorites on the odds to win Super Bowl 51 – putting them tied with the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks.

The Patriots were edged 20-18 by the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game, after slipping in the final weeks of the regular season and ceding home-field advantage in the AFC side of the playoff bracket to their rivals. The Seahawks ran up against the Panthers in the second round of the playoffs, falling 31-24 at Bank of America Stadium. Seattle finished 10-6 during the regular season last year, while New England was 12-4.

The Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers are both set at +1200 on the early odds to win Super Bowl 51, with Green Bay falling to the Arizona Cardinals in the second round of the playoffs and Pittsburgh losing to Denver in the second round. Both the Packers and the Steelers suffered key injuries in the past season and will be looking to be healthier in 2016.

The Cardinals then are set at +1400 on the odds to win Super Bowl 51, after they were crushed 49-15 by the Panthers in the NFC Championship Game. Arizona was 13-3 in 2015.

And the Broncos are then tied with the Dallas Cowboys at +1600 on the opening Super Bowl 51 odds, with Denver’s quarterback situation in flux as Manning decides on his retirement plans. Despite a sub-par and injury-filled year from Manning in 2015 the Broncos still claimed the top seed in the AFC on tiebreakers at 12-4; Brock Osweiler played a chunk of that slate.

Dallas will be hoping a full season out of quarterback Tony Romo gets them back into the mix.

Rounding out the top contenders on the early Super Bowl 51 odds, the Cincinnati Bengals are at +2000, with the Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, and Minnesota Vikings at +2500.

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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