NFL Week 1 odds: Panthers on TNF among favorites on opening slate

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Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers have ruled the NFC South for three seasons, but covering as a road favorite has not been their forte. Heading into Thursday night’s NFL season opener between last year’s Super Bowl teams, the Panthers are listed as three-point favorites against the host Denver Broncos at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Over the last three seasons, Carolina is 9-3 straight-up but just 5-7 against the spread as a road favorite, according to the OddsShark NFL Database. However, overall they’re also 8-0 both SU and ATS in their last eight games as a favorite of three or fewer points.

Denver, which won both home games last season where it was an underdog, is 25-4 SU in its last 29 home games. The total has gone under in both the Panthers’ last four season openers and in the Broncos’ last five games following consecutive wins.

In a Sunday Night Football tilt between the 2015 AFC and NFC finalists, the Arizona Cardinals are listed as six-point favorites against the temporarily Jimmy Garoppolo-led New England Patriots. The Cardinals are 10-2 SU and 7-5 ATS in their last dozen games when favored by 6.5 or fewer points.

The Patriots are 5-1 ATS in their last six games against Arizona. The total has gone over six of the last seven times that New England was the underdog.

The New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys tilt is listed as a pick’em. The Cowboys, now counting on rookie QB Dak Prescott, are 5-1 SU in their last six September games. The Giants aren’t known for being fast starters: try an 0-5 SU and 1-4 ATS trend in their last five season openers. The NFC East rivals’ last seven games have all gone over the posted total.

The Cincinnati Bengals are 2.5-point favorites on the road against the New York Jets; the Bengals have lost nine road games in a row against the Jets, but they are 6-2 SU and 8-0 ATS in their last eight away games. Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts are four-point favorites at home against Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions.

With backup QB Shaun Hill starting, the Minnesota Vikings are two-point road favorites against the Tennessee Titans. According to website PredictionMachine.com, the Vikings’ projected points per game average with Hill at quarterback instead of the injured Teddy Bridgewater drops from 24.5 to 21.8. With Sam Bradford at quarterback that number is 22.1.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are favored by three points against the Washington Redskins on Monday night, with the total at 50 points. The total has gone under for bettors eight of the last 11 times the Redskins were an underdog of three or fewer points. In the other Monday night game, the Los Angeles Rams are 2.5-point favorites against the host San Francisco 49ers.

In other games of note, the Seattle Seahawks are 10.5-point favorites against the Miami Dolphins, Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints are a slim one-point favorite at home against the Oakland Raiders, and the Green Bay Packers are 4.5-point favorites on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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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