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Before the NFC Championship game was even over, sportsbooks across Las Vegas were posting the Super Bowl 50 line and bettors were rushing to the window to wager as if the number was like stealing.

After witnessing the Panthers thump Arizona, 49-15, while Denver squeaked by New England, 20-18, it wasn’t a hard decision for most to make.

Most sportsbooks opened Carolina as a 4 or 4.5-point favorite and it was quickly laid by the majority.

“We wanted to be high with our number knowing the public would take Carolina,” MGM Resorts sportsbook VP Jay Rood said Sunday night. “So far we’re at a 6-to-1 ratio on tickets bet with the Panthers and we’re at a 4-to-1 ratio with cash taken in.”

The MGM books opened at -4.5, which is where most of the city is at, while Station Casinos has the highest number at -5. With close to $115 million expected to be wagered on the Super Bowl in Nevada over the next two weeks, the story of where the number is going to end up hasn’t even been written yet.

Most bettors believe what they saw last, and lately with Carolina you can’t help but be impressed. Here’s a team that went 15-1 in the regular season, then slapped Seattle around and came right back and treated the Cardinals, who won 14 games this season, like they were the Titans.

Carolina forced seven Arizona turnovers, something they’ve been doing all season as they led the NFL with a +20 turnover ratio. They also led the NFL with 31.2 points scored per game and went 6-0 against playoff teams.

While it looked as though they were running out of gas late in the season where they were flat in narrow 3-point wins against the Saints and Giants and then took their only loss of the year at Atlanta in Week 16, right now they are looking truly Super.

Denver, meanwhile, did what they’ve been doing all season – just enough to win. Their No. 1 ranked defense came up big again and beat Tom Brady and the Patriots for the second time this season. It truly is a remarkable turnaround from the team that made the Super Bowl two years ago leading the NFL in scoring. Now they have trouble scoring, but Wade Philips’ defense is absolutely nasty.

So you have the highest scoring team against the best defense. Does defense win championships? Denver can attest to that since Seattle’s top defense blasted them, 43-8, in the Super Bowl two years ago.

But Denver has to get something out of Peyton Manning to have a chance at winning and not many bettors trust him to score more than the Panthers. Even when Manning was at his best statistically he wasn’t known for coming up big in the big games. His win on Sunday made him 13-13 in the playoffs over his career. His only Super Bowl win came against a Rex Grossman-led Bears squad. His last Super Bowl was a nightmare and he threw 17 interceptions to only nine touchdowns this season.

Denver doesn’t have much love yet from the public, but with two weeks to go they’ll find some supporters and those that already like Denver know if they wait they’ll likely get a better number, both with the points and moneyline. Carolina is -200 on the moneyline at the South Point and Station with Denver getting +170.

With -5 being the highest number right now at this early stage, -6 could be right around the corner just because 5 and 5.5 are dead numbers. If the same type of fevered Carolina action comes in over the next week that happened on Sunday night, yes, the number will definitely go higher. The books will be taking larger limits, but they’re going to want to test the waters at some point and find out if there is Denver money to be had.

One thing the books are definitely happy about is this game is nowhere near “3” or “7,” the most key numbers in the NFL.

SuperBook props

The world famous Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook Super Bowl props will be posted Thursday at 7 p.m. Jay Kornegay and his crew have been raising the props bar every year for the last two decades – first at the Imperial Palace. Because of its popularity they have forced other books to do the same and the props have helped elevate Nevada Super Bowl handle to its highest levels in recent years (record $119 million two years ago).

Super Bowl parties

I’m not really a Las Vegas big event kind of guy. I don’t do anything on New Year’s and I don’t like the big crowds, but I must say in my last few years while not working the Super Bowl in a sportsbook I have really enjoyed the parties around town.

It’s the biggest game of the year and this city absolutely does it right. Just about every casino will have some kind of big promotion. This year I’m going to try a new place for the party with Gordon Ramsey’s Pub and Grill inside Caesars Palace.

I’ve got my phone so I can in-game wager with all the different books around town while I chow down on some of the celebrity chef’s food and drink many of his fantastic beers on draft.

Next week I’ll give advice on a few more places to check out around town.

Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Twitter: @MicahRoberts7 Email: [email protected].

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