2016 NFL Odds: One Last Look at Who Will Win Super Bowl 50

Super Bowl 50 is coming at us fast. As this article is being written, we’re a mere three hours from the AFC title game and by the time Sunday is over, we’re going to know who will represent both NFL conferences in this year’s Super Bowl.

It’s a truly fun and exciting NFL Conference Championship weekend, as we get the epic Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning clash on one hand and a battle of “never won it” teams when the Cardinals and Panthers square off in Carolina.

It’s inexperienced and “team of destiny” talk versus aged like fine wine playoff lore. Arizona or Carolina will be in their second Super Bowl ever come Monday. And Brady or Manning will be there to try to knock them down.

Current Super Bowl Odds

The latest reported Super Bowl odds have the Patriots leading the way (2/1) with the 15-1 Panthers having the next best odds (11/5). Arizona (7/2) and Denver (4/1) follow in line as the only other two teams in the running.

No one should be shocked at those Super Bowl odds. The Patriots looked like the best team in the league when they started out at 10-0. Tom Brady looked flat out mad at the league and anyone who called him a cheater for his role in the #deflategate scandal. Who knows and who cares about what happened with some PSI in some footballs? The point is we’re here now and Brady is in his 10th AFC title game, playing for an insane seventh Super Bowl trip. Cheating or not, all of that is impressive and the oddsmakers clearly don’t feel good about betting against him.

The same goes for the Panthers. Ugly as it’s been in recent years, this marks the third straight playoff appearance for them and their first trip to the NFC title game in the Cam Newton/Ron Rivera era. While the Panthers started out as an overrated team, they went 14-0 before the division rival Falcons finally caught them stumbling on the road in Atlanta. Had the Panthers been a little more focused, they could easily be 17-0 right now and eyeing a perfect 19-0 season with a win on Sunday. Even so, they lost one game all year and displayed immense balance and clutch ability. Now they’re at home against a Cardinals team that is without star defensive back Tyrann Mathieu is being lead by a quarterback (Carson Palmer) that won his first playoff game ever a week ago.

Who Gets There?

The odds speak for themselves. I don’t discount Peyton Manning’s experience or Denver’s defense. I can’t ignore how the Cardinals feel like a team of destiny just like Carolina does, and Palmer finally getting that elusive playoff win has to count for something. Of the two aged quarterbacks, though, only one feels like they truly belong in this four-pack of championship contenders. That brings Denver’s run down to one thing; which do you trust more: Denver’s defense or Peyton Manning’s inability to lead an effective offense.

I thought Manning was done in week one and he hasn’t done much to prove me wrong the rest of the way. His receivers didn’t help him with dropped passes last week but he wasn’t good and he was at home against a bad Steelers secondary. How will he react against a much tougher Patriots defense? Chances are, not very good. That has me taking Brady and the Pats, as New England has had much more playoff success under Brady than any team has had with Manning.

On the other side, Arizona is so close they can taste it and it’s very tough to pick them losing – even on the road. They’ve actually been amazing on the road, too, with a strong 7-1 record away from home this year. They are absolutely built to go into Carolina and beat the Panthers in any numbers of ways: by pounding the rock, by passing all over their defense, by shutting their offense down or digging themselves out of an early hole to complete a miracle comeback.

As good as the Cardinals are, however, the Panthers might be just enough better. Carolina has also had an uncanny knack for the big play at the right time and it’s all because of Cam Newton’s improved play and never-ending swagger. Carolina hasn’t letdown at home at all this year (a perfect 8-0) and that 31-0 first half dominance of Seattle last week might just say it all. Their second half collapse suggests they still have some work to do in finishing opponents off, and that’s why I expect a good game ultimately in this one. But that doesn’t mean I expect the Panthers to lose.

Predicting Super Bowl 50

In the end, it’s going to be the Patriots and Panthers. Much like the top four seeds advanced to the game they were supposed to get to, the two best teams are going to get to the Super Bowl. Denver somehow snagged the #1 overall seed, but they weren’t really ever better than the Patriots and needed a flukey overtime win to earn the tie-breaker over them earlier this year.

This year’s Super Bowl is a fun clash of destiny versus revenge, the team on the rise versus the team that is always here and young pup against seasoned pro. Cam Newton could very well be beginning a dynasty of his own in Carolina, but even if he’s not, he still feels like the guy that will lead the Panthers to their first NFL title. New England can’t run the ball like they did last year or earlier this year, their offensive line can break down and their defense isn’t nearly as great as it was last season. Carolina, on the other hand, has the superior defense, has a dual threat quarterback who can win from the pocket and run through/around defenders and a running game that is just good enough.

If the Panthers and Patriots meet up in the Super Bowl for the second time in history, Carolina should put the finishing touches on their best season ever with their first Lombardi Trophy.


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