When the Super Bowl 50 betting odds opened, the Denver Broncos were 3.5-point underdogs. Then the lines moved to 4.5 points — and now they’re as high as a touchdown in some places. The over/under total sits at 45.5 points on major online sportsbetting sites. So how do you think that being the underdog will affect the Broncos going into the big game?

Personally, I don’t see this as much of a factor. Many people thought that the Pittsburgh Steelers would roll into Denver in the divisional playoff round and waltz out with a victory. The sports betting world as a whole thought that the Broncos would not escape the AFC Championship game, as the Patriots were distinct favorites. However, Bill Belichick and his team will only have access to Super Bowl 50 if they have a media pass — or a television.

So here’s why I don’t think that being an underdog will affect the Broncos in their preparation for this title game.

The Broncos have Long Memories of Two Years Ago

In Super Bowl XLVIII, the Broncos posted 606 points during the regular season, an NFL record that still stands today. They steamrolled their way through the playoffs and seemed poised to do a similar number on the Seattle Seahawks. However, the first snap of the game sailed past Peyton Manning to open the game with a safety for the first time in Super Bowl history, and the rout was on, and the shell-shocked Broncos would only post 8 points all day long. Von Miller, Peyton Manning and the rest of the players who were on the field that night certainly haven’t forgotten. In a lot of ways, people have disrespected the Broncos all season long, particularly because of the decline that Peyton Manning’s passing game has taken. However, general manager John Elway has built a team centered on defense and a running game, allowing Manning’s arm to be an element of the team rather than the only hope, and they are a much more balanced team than they were two years ago — and they are ready for redemption.

The Coaching Staff is Used to Being the Underdog

It’s only been two years since Gary Kubiak and Wade Phillips were both unceremoniously dumped by the Houston Texans. Phillips had been Kubiak’s defensive coordinator in Houston, but when Kubiak had health issues and had to step aside, Phillips stepped in as interim head coach. The Texans had an awful finish to the season (Phillips is a gifted defensive coordinator but a terrible head coach), and both men found themselves out of a job. When John Elway hired Kubiak to come in and coach the Broncos, a lot of the NFL’s observers snickered at what they thought of as professional nepotism. However, they’ve done nothing but come into Denver and put in a balanced offense and a ferocious defense. So you have a defense that gets stops and an offense that can chew up the clock. Both of these coaches feel like they have something to prove, and Super Bowl 50 is their time to shine.

Super Bowl 50 Game Total Preview

This Sunday night, the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos meet at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, for Super Bowl 50. Kickoff for this game is at 6:30pm Eastern time. Opening odds had the Panthers favored by 3.5 points, but that has grown to 6 points now. The over/under total for this game is 45.5 points. Let’s take a look at this matchup between two of the most interesting teams in the NFL.

Why Should you Bet on the Panthers (-6)?

There were some legitimate reasons to doubt the Panthers going into the NFC Championship against Arizona. Yes, they had defeated the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional round — and had totally dominated that first half. However, the Seahawks came out of the locker room for the third quarter down 31 points — and only lost by seven, just an onside kick from making things really interesting at the end. But then the Panthers dominated the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship, taking the ball away from Carson Palmer six times and gathering a fumbled punt return for measure as they turned what many had thought would be a competitive game into a total rout.

The Panthers led the NFL in takeaways during the regular season (39) and have nine takeaways in the playoffs. They have a quarterback who led the NFL in rushing yards for a quarterback with 636 and was responsible for 45 offensive touchdowns (passing and rushing). They have the best linebacking pair in the NFL in Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly. There’s no reason to see why this defense can’t stop Peyton Manning — and why the offense can’t have another huge day.

Why Should you Bet on the Broncos (+6)?

Yes, the Panthers were #1 in takeaways in the NFL this season, but they weren’t the #1 defense in the league — that honor goes to the Denver Broncos, who have the best front four in the league. Not only can they muster a fearsome pass rush without having to resort to all-out blitzing, they can also fill gaps and control spacing so that Cam Newton can’t do what he loves — use the read-option to lure opposing defenses to chase the wrong guy, only to see the ball carrier sprint by them into the secondary.

It’s true that Peyton Manning isn’t the dynamic passer he has been in years past. However, he has C.J. Anderson to carry the ball, and he has a solid offensive line. Before he went down with his plantar fascia tear, he was throwing a lot more interceptions than touchdowns. Since he came back, he has managed the ball much more effectively — and the Broncos have yet to lose. This is a crafty quarterback who knows he is probably in his last postseason. He will keep this game close.

Expert Pick and Final Score Prediction

The Broncos have brought a lot of passion into their postseason, and Peyton Manning has given the game everything he has this year. However, I don’t think the Broncos have the weapons they need to stop the Panthers. Carolina is peaking at the right time after seeming to have lost their focus. I like them to knock off the Broncos, 31-17.