As the kickoff for Super Bowl 50 approaches the Carolina Panthers have solidified their position as 5.5-point betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
Carolina opened as 3.5-point chalk following their 49-15 demolition of the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game but the betting line for Sunday night’s Panthers vs. Broncos Super Bowl matchup at Levi’s Stadium quickly moved in favor of the NFC champs, reaching six points at select sportsbooks before settling at 5.5.
The Panthers owned the NFL’s top offense this season, averaging 31.3 points per game, a point total they have eclipsed in eight of their past 11 contests overall. However, they will be up against the Broncos’ top-ranked defense, which surrendered a league-low 283.1 yards per game, including just 83.6 yards per game on the ground.
The health of running back Jonathan Stewart could be cause for concern for Carolina.
Stewart has missed time at practice with an ankle injury, joining a lengthy group of Panthers who are listed as questionable on the early injury report for Super Bowl 50, including linebacker Thomas Davis and defensive end Charles Johnson.
However, none are expected to miss action on Sunday, including lineman Jared Allen, who is expected to play after missing the NFC Championship Game with a foot injury.
The Broncos are dealing with injury troubles of their own, most notably to safeties TJ Ward and Darian Stewart, who both missed practice last week and are listed as questionable for Sunday.
The injury to Jonathan Stewart has done little to impact the rusher’s Super Bowl MVP odds, which have held steady at 22/1. But it is the opposing quarterbacks that lead the way on the Super Bowl 50 MVP odds, with Carolina’s Cam Newton pegged as a -130 favorite, followed by Denver’s Peyton Manning, who sports +275 odds. Speculation has run rampant that Manning will announce his retirement following Super Bowl 50.
The 39-year-old Manning makes his fourth Super Bowl appearance on Sunday, and second in the last three years, but has just one championship to his credit, claiming Super Bowl MVP honors at Super Bowl XLI while leading the Indianapolis Colts to a 29-17 win over the Chicago Bears.
Manning has endured a difficult campaign, throwing just nine regular season touchdowns while missing six weeks to injury, but looked strong in Denver’s 20-18 win over New England in the AFC Championship Game, ending the club’s five-game losing streak against the spread per the OddsShark NFL Database.