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July 29, 2016

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Panthers favored by 4 points vs. Broncos in Super Bowl 50

Carolina opened at minus-5.5, but number bet down with action on Denver

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Joe Mahoney / AP

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is chased out of the pocket by New England Patriots defenders Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, in Denver.

Updated Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016 | 7:32 p.m.

Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos are back in the Super Bowl. That should be big business for Nevada sports books.

The Carolina Panthers were still putting the finishing touches on their dominating NFC Championship victory today to join Denver in two weeks at Super Bowl 50 in Northern California when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook opened the Panthers as 5.5-point favorites. The over-under points total is 44.5.

If history repeats itself, books will be flooded with customers to wager on Manning, one of the game’s most popular players who is playing in his fourth career Super Bowl, and possibly the last game of his record-breaking career. And the action is already coming in steady — within 15 minutes of the number being posted, Denver was bet down to plus-4 at the Westgate. The number has settled at Carolina minus-4 at most shops across Las Vegas.

When the Manning-led Broncos played two seasons ago in the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks, they were 2.5-point favorites and lost 43-8. Gamblers wagered a state-record $119.4 million and books made an unprecedented $19.7 million profit. By comparison, books profited $3.26 million last year on $116 million in bets when the New England Patriots beat the Seahawks.

The Panthers, at least according to odds in the offseason, are the surprise participant. Last January, they opened at 40-to-1 to win the 2016 NFL championship. By time the season started, and Carolina lost top receiver Kelvin Benjamin to a season-ending injury, the Panthers were 65-to-1 to win the Super Bowl. The proceeded to win their initial 14 games, riding the great play of likely MVP Cam Newton at quarterback and surrendering less than 20 points per game with one of the league’s best defenses.

“I was not a believer (in the Panthers) at first,” said Nick Bogdanovich, the William Hill US Director of Trading. “It took until Week 6 or 7 to convert me. When they lost Benjamin, I was looking for any weapons they have. It was just Cam Newton, but he makes Ted Ginn look like a superstar and Greg Olsen look like a superstar.”

William Hill U.S. projected the Panthers would be favored just 2.5 points entering today's game, but Carolina easily routed the Arizona Cardinals to enhance its status.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 702-990-2662 or ray.brewer@lasvegassun.com. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21

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