It all comes down to this. 60 tiny minutes stretched out to over three hours of drama mixed in with lots of unnecessary ad breaks. Yes, it’s the Super Bowl. WHOOP WHOOP, yeehaa and other Americanisms that have crept into our vocab.
The defensive loudmouthing of the Denver Broncos goes head to head with the offensive power and ball-giving away of the Carolina Panthers. Peyton Manning – possibly playing in his final rodeo – versus the league’s emerging superstar, Cam Newton.
The odds suggest the Panthers have the upper hand. But not by such a margin that we should assume its a forgone conclusion before turning in for an early night. The Broncos defence were all over Tom Brady like he was flirty cheerleader with no sexual inhibitions in the AFC Conference game and a similar job on Cam Newton, it could seriously level the playing field. The punters are certainly siding with Cam on the handicap, but there are more than a few people who think the Broncos can buck the trend in the match betting.
Well, maybe not ‘more than a few’ but certainly a few. The Panthers are the overwhelming choice in the handicap with 94% of all bets opting to take the Carolina outfit minus a handful of points at . Only about 6% of bets are for the Broncos plus points at .
The picture is slightly more optimistic for Broncos fans in the match betting. But that’s kind of like saying ‘Donald Trump won’t actually be next President, say hello to your new Commander-in-Chief, Kanye West. And here’s is his first lady, Kim Kardashian’ – a slight improvement, but still as welcome as a prostate exam from Freddie Kruger. In that market, they’ve attracted 24% of all the money versus 76% for the Panthers who are the favourites in contrast to the outsiders.
Going against the Broncos is Peyton Manning. Despite being a bona fide legend and shoe-in for the Hall of Fame, there’s been more than than a few rumblings that already this has been one season too far. With his 40th birthday coming next month, a win on Sunday would make him the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl.
With the protection afforded to quarterbacks, age isn’t necessarily a barrier to success in the NFL, but Manning has looked incapable of generating his throwing power of old, making his passes very catchable to the people who doesn’t want to catch them. Despite missing six of the 16 regular season game, he still managed to record the second highest amount of interceptions (17) second only to Blake Bortles (18) who (a) played a full season and (b) is on a terrible team.
Making A Point
If you’re too fond of sitting on the fence to plump for a winner, the Total Points line for Sunday’s showdown is worth a look. With both defences ranking among the best in the league (Broncos #1 and Panters #6 in terms of points per game) the line is set at a comparatively low 44 points. Historically, that’s been a tally not exceeded in 49% of all Super Bowl, but what’s more telling is that six of the seven most recent Super Bowls have broken the 44 points mark, the majority of those with a touchdown or more to spare. For all the defensive talent on show, recent history says that the Over 44 points at is the play.
Blitz And Pieces
There’s a few interesting statistical bits and pieces that probably don’t deserve their own section so we’ve lumped them all in together. Some are more useful than others, we’ll gladly admit that.
- ‘Home advantage’ is an advantage
The Super Bowl is played at a venue nominated years in advance. It is possible that a team could play one at their home stadium, but that hasn’t happened in any of the previous 49 Super Bowls. Despite the neutral venue, the stats say the team that has less distance to cover to get there has the upper hand. For whatever reason, 57% of all Super Bowls have been won by these teams. That is good news for the Broncos at odds of who are a mere 950 miles away from San Francisco on the Pacific coast rather than the near 2,300 miles cross country trek undertaken by the Panthers.
- It may not be especially tight
Considering it’s a match-up of the two best teams in one of the most competitive competitions in the world, the Super Bowl doesn’t always end up being especially close. The average winning margin across 49 editions is a whopping 14.5 points and even though that’s inflated by a few blowout wins, the median is still a sizeable 12 points. That said, four of the last five Super Bowls have been decided by less than a touchdown so – including last year’s heroics/idiot play-calling [DELETE AS APPROPRIATE] – we seem to be in a period of tighter games.The Broncos got blown away by the Seahawks in 2013 and although a repeat is unlikely, if Cam gets going the Panthers could have a relatively comfortable night. Carolina to win by between 11 and 20 points at is a bet backed up by Super Bowl stats and to a lesser extent, current form and a win by between 11 and 15 points at is the slightly more precise and rewarding version of that sentiment.
- The importance of scoring first
There’s guaranteed to be lots of drama across the extended 60 minutes of play, but once one team gets on the board, it could be worth pouncing on them to close it out. 67% of all Super Bowls have been claimed by the team scoring the first points of the game. That’s especially remarkable considering it includes field goals and safeties which only give slight advantages of three and two points respectively. The stats say that whoever gets on the board, it’s worth lumping on them.