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After the first week of Super Bowl betting action in Las Vegas, it’s quite clear the betting public loves the Panthers. No, I mean they really love the Panthers, as in about 79 percent of every ticket written has been on the Panthers.

The Panthers have inched up to a 6-point favorite at half the sportsbooks in town while others are set at -5.5. Most opened the Panthers as 4-point favorites last Sunday.

The big question for everyone is where this number will eventually settle. Will the bettors still love what they saw last out of the Panthers – a 49-15 blowout of the Cardinals in the NFC Championship game, or will they start to find some reasons to take Broncos with ideas that its No. 1 ranked defense can slow Cam Newton?

Over at the Wynn sportsbook, director John Avello said he was looking for a sign that Broncos money was out there and when he moved the Panthers from -5.5 to -6 on Friday, he got that sign with a Denver wager he described as a high six-figure wager. The wager pushed the Wynn book back to -5.5 on Saturday afternoon.

“There’s still a long way to go – we’ll take 80 percent of overall wagers on the game Saturday and Sunday,” said Avello. “We’re still long on the Panthers right now, but it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to see our position completely change from the first week. It happened last year.”

Yes, the public is still loving the Panthers, but the frenzied pace seen when the number was first posted has leveled off. Like Avello said, there is a long way to go and things could change drastically. It’s apparent large money is willing to show their hand with Denver and +6 is acceptable. Other sharp outfits are still hoping +6.5 or +7 shows.

But with the Super Bowl, sharp outfits don’t control the pointspread like they do in the regular season or the playoffs. Their $100,000 limit wagers get lost in the massive shuffle of thousands of $50 and $100 wagers from the public.

The one area of public support showing for the Broncos is the moneyline, which has the bettors getting +200 by taking Denver to win straight up. This is a typical routine with the Super Bowl where bettors liking the favorite lay the points and those that like the dog take the odds instead of the points. The South Point tested the waters with Denver at +215 last week and immediately found large Denver support. They are +195 now.

I think the extra week in between games will have the bettors being a little more open minded to the idea that Denver can win. The betting pattern as the line has moved up has already shown things leveling off between the two sides. I don’t believe we’ll see +6.5 and I actually believe we’ll see the number drop back down to +5 or +4.5 closer to kickoff.

The books are still going to need the Broncos to cover, but the decision won’t be as large as it sits right now, or at least that’s my humble prediction.

Who do I like to win? It’s hard to argue with what Carolina has done all season. They bury teams in a hurry and that’s what we’ve seen out of all the great past Super Bowl teams like the ‘94 and ‘89 49ers, ‘85 Bears, ‘86 Giants and ‘92 Redskins in their days. We knew they were super all season and when the big game came around they shredded the AFC side – Denver took a couple of those beatings. The Panthers also routed the oddsmakers’ top two rated teams – Seattle and Arizona.

Having said all that, I have to take the Broncos +6 because the number is out of whack. Carolina should probably only be -2 and no matter how I feel about all the key player match-ups, betting is all about getting the value and I can’t lay a number that has so much inflation added to it.

Sure, I think Carolina is the better team, but if I’m getting 4-points of value, I have to take it, just like the case when Denver was getting +3 at home to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game.

I’ve kind of gone around the back way to finding my Super Bowl selection by taking just the value. Now I have to talk myself into reasons why Denver can win and I think it all rests with defense and ball control – keep the ball out of Newton’s hands and when he does have the ball, hit him hard just like they did Tom Brady.

Peyton Manning isn’t going to win the game for Denver, but he’ll be a great field manager with short passes that help keep the clock running, and shorten the amount of time Newton has to score. If you believe any of that theory, then you should probably play the total, UNDER 46, as well. BRONCOS/UNDER.

Where to watch the game: You really can’t go wrong anywhere in Las Vegas to watch the Super Bowl, but I have a few favorites I’ve been suggesting the past few weeks that I know will help create the best experience possible.

Downtown is always electric with a Mardi Gras-type atmosphere, and after making bets at the Golden Nugget, stroll across the street to the Long Bar at The D.

Over at South Point they’ll have huge parties in three different locations as well as all of their huge bars. In addition to cheap beer every day – free if you bet, they also have the best Vienna beef hot dog in town at only $1.25 – perfect snack during the game.

The Palazzo has Lagasse’s Stadium with a CG Technology sportsbook inside and the seating is just like a mini stadium – call for reservations. For frenzied football party action on the Strip, being inside the Mirage or Mandalay Bay sportsbook is always a blast – lots of stand-up room – and big games always seem better there even if you don’t have a seat.

At Caesars Palace, Gordon Ramsey’s Pub and Grill is having a big bash with his awesome cuisine and a large draft beer selection – call for reservations.

The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook is brand spanking new with a $10 million refurbish and the screens are incredible, as are their nearly 400 different game props.

If you want to see the best video presentation off the Strip, drive up to the Red Rock sportsbook and watch it on their giant HD screen, as well as getting cheap Bud Light’s – free if you bet.

There’s lots to do in Las Vegas on Sunday, so have at it. Take the city over, make it yours, and come back again soon.

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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