Super Bowl 50 – Preview and Betting Selections


The Carolina Panthers arrive in Santa Clara as the favourites to round off a memorable season and lift their first ever Vince Lombardi. Ron Rivera’s squad finished the season 15-1 and with probable MVP Cam Newton in control of the offence, they are well fancied to win Super Bowl 50.

sb 50

They carried their regular season form into the playoffs too. Against Seattle, Carolina raced out to a 31-0 lead, eventually holding on to win 31-24 after a sloppy second half. However against Arizona it was a complete blowout, a 49-15 beatdown of the NFC West Champions.

Denver meanwhile have had a rollercoaster ride to arrive in the big dance. Peyton Manning was very ineffective early in the season as seemingly his age caught up to him, throwing 17 interceptions against only nine touchdowns before he excited the starting lineup due to a foot injury. The defence however has carried the Broncos right through the year, with a dominant defensive line led by superstar pass rushers DeMarcus Ware and Vonn Miller. In their conference win against New England, Wade Phillips was able to deploy just a three-man rush against Tom Brady and even then they were still getting to the Michigan-alum.

The offensive problems are well documented for Manning and the Broncos in what could be the future-hall-of-famer’s final game on an NFL gridiron. The medium to deep ball power has extremely diminished for the former Colt, while his receivers had a bout of the drops last time out against the Patriots. Because of their dominant, top-ranked defence however, Manning has become a game-manager, looking after the ball and not forcing throws or turning the ball over. Field position will be a huge factor to this game and Denver have a very capable punter in Britton Colquitt.



Onto the selections then and first up the spread. Initially the line opened at 3.5, but that is long gone and has now climbed to 5.5 as all the public money has come steaming into Carolina. The advice would be to wait till Sunday and hope for more support for Carolina. If the line reaches 6.5 or hopefully a straight 7, you’d have to take the points as it is. The best defence in the league shouldn’t be such a big ‘dog in such a huge contest.


When we talk of Denver’s fantastic defence, the Carolina squad is barely a step behind. Luke Kuchely’s name was certainly in the Defensive MVP talk and though Thomas Davis has a broken arm, he will still be lining up alongside Kuchely. We should get a good grasp on how the game is going to go early doors. If Denver can control the strong run game of Carolina (which I think they can) then the under 44.5 certainly comes into play. A scorline of 24-20 or 23-17 is in the realms of possibility here and that would see the under click.


More of a fun interest bet than anything else, this gives non-serious punters a way to cheer on one team or player so let’s select one per side. Before we do however, get a few quid on each Defence/Special Teams to score first. Given the strength of each defence and the possibility of early nerves we could get a run for our money. Add in the fact that Ted Ginn is one of the best returners in the game, then we have a number of chances. A defensive/special teams score in the game is also in play. Anyway for Denver, it was Owen Daniels who opened the scoring a fortnight ago and he is capable again. With Manning’s lack of arm strength he looked down the seam a lot and if he can get matched up with a banged up Davis he could come through. For Carolina, we’ll go with their tight end Gregg Olsen. He is Newton’s favourite target and outside of Gronkowski, has been the best player at his position all season.


You’re not going to get rich on the props market with most selections 10/11 but it does give you a player interest in the game. Let’s start with the Panthers and their rushing attack. Jonathan Stewart has tallied 19 rushing attempts or more in 10-of-11 games following Carolina’s Week 5 bye, including both playoff games, so take the over 18.5 attempts. SuperCam finished with double-digit rushing attempts in each of Carolina’s first two playoff games, while only three NFL teams allowed more yards per quarterback run than the Broncos this season, so the over 38.5 yards is in play. Passing-wise, Greg Olsen notched 6 catches in each playoff game so far and Hills have evens about 6 or more again on Sunday. With a tough pass rush Cam will be looking to get the ball out quick and given the tight matchups on the outside, Olsen should once again be his favoured target.


Another tough Super Bowl to pick after last year’s contest which started as a pick em. Much like the players for the Broncos, punters need to forgot the memory of the Super Bowl two years ago against Seattle if you are with Peyton Manning and co. That day the Broncos were favoured against the upstart Seahawks and were blown away. Many people are doubting Carolina and trying to crab the form so to speak but they feel eerily similar to that Seattle team two years ago. However that said, after seeing the Denver defence control Brady and learning off their past experiences of Russell Wilson, they will be able to control Newton enough to manage the game and send Peyton Manning into retirement with his second Super Bowl ring.

Denver, USA - JANUARY 19: Denver Broncos vs New England Patriots AFC Championship at Sports Authority Field. The Denver Broncos defeat the New England Patriots. Peyton Manning celebrates after the win. (Photo by Anthony J. Causi)

SELECTIONS (at time of writing):

Denver +6 pts @ 4/5 – Bet 365

Under 44.5 pts @ 20/21 – Ladbrokes

Denver D/ST 1st Touchdown @ 25/1 – Sky Bet

Carolina D/ST 1st Touchdown @ 22/1 – Sky Bet

Owen Daniels 1st Touchdown @ 16/1 – Ladbrokes/Coral/William Hill

Greg Olsen 1st Touchdown @ 10/1 – Paddy Power/Ladbrokes/William Hill

Jonathan Stewart over 18.5 Rush Attempts @ 10/11 – William Hill

Cam Newton over 38.5 Rushing yards @ 5/6 – Paddy Power

Greg Olsen Over 5.5 Receptions @ Evs – William Hill

Denver To Win @ 2/1 –Ladbrokes

NFL Ireland Team of the Week: Week 7

We’re almost at the halfway point for the season and a lot of 2014’s top performers are starting to make multiple appearances on these hallowed pages. We still have plenty of debutantes in the NFL Ireland Team of the Week though, as plenty of fresh players made a big impression on us this week. Here’s the NFL Ireland Team of the Week!

Offense | Defense




Quarterback: Peyton Manning – Denver Broncos

It’s not just that he set the all-time NFL passing TD record, which was an achievement worthy of a lady on a horse with a flag, but Manning this week also went 22 of 26 for 4 TDs, topping 300 yards and running out with an almost-perfect QB rating of 157.2 in the win against San Francisco. He didn’t just break the record, he did it with one of the best performances of his career. That’s what legends do.

Running Back: Denard Robinson – Jacksonville Jaguars

A Jaguar hasn’t graced these pages since Allen Hurns in Week 1, but Robinson finally brought some semblance of order to the chaos that has been the Jacksonville backfield this season. In the team’s first win of 2014, Robinson went for 127 yards and a TD on 22 carries – behind a very questionable offensive line – as they cruised to victory over the Browns. The former ‘offensive weapon’ looked every inch a starting NFL running back, and the Jaguars will be hoping he can continue this fine form from here on out.

Tight End: Greg Olson – Carolina Panthers

The Panthers’ problems on defense have been well documented, but on offense Cam Newton has always been able to rely on Greg Olsen. Even as the team struggled last week, the former Bears tight end continued to show that he’s one of the most underrated players at the position, racking up 105 yards on 8 receptions. He’s the best weapon the Panthers have outside of Newton, and an invaluable cog in this offense.

Wide Receiver: Golden Tate – Detroit Lions

With Matt Stafford struggling and the Lions staring down the barrel of a home loss to the Saints, Golden Tate stepped up and took a short pass 73 yards past the Saints secondary for a touchdown. The score breathed new life into the Lions, setting up a come-from-behind victory that keeps the Lions on pace with the Packers in the NFC North, and contributed to Tate’s 154 yards on ten receptions.

Wide Receiver: Demaryius Thomas – Denver Broncos

Thomas makes his second appearance of the season here as he not only hauled in 8 passes for 171 yards and 2 TDs, but he also caught the all-important no. 509 from Peyton Manning’s hand. He’s found his feet in the end zone after a slow start to the season, and on this form he looks set to continue posting monster numbers as the season progresses.

Offensive Line: Dallas Cowboys

They’ve been consistently good all season, so it’s about time we put them in our team. The Cowboys offensive line has been so good, leading DeMarco Murray to a historic first 7 games with 100 yards rushing, that the RB surprised them all with presents this week. The real reward for the Cowboys has been a 6-1 start to the season with all of their star players performing above expectations, and creating an offensive juggernaut that will be hard to stop in the NFC.


Defense | Offense




Defensive Line: Denver Broncos

It’s not just on offense that the Broncos are playing well this year. The D has been strong and against the 49ers they managed to give up just 62 yards rushing to the 49ers and getting to the QB four times for sacks. When you include Von Miller this defensive front is one of the most fearsome in football, and with the offense as dominant as it has been it’s difficult to see a weakness in this team for other AFC sides to exploit.

Linebackers: Baltimore Ravens

One side who might be contending for the AFC along with Denver is the Baltimore Ravens, and a big reason for their improvement this season has been the consistent production from their linebackers. The emergence of Pernell McPhee alongside rookie CJ Mosley and Daryl Smith, combined with Terrell Suggs and former Bronco Elvis Dumervil on the edges has created a corps with depth and impact talent. Against the Falcons they combined for 5 sacks and a fumble, alongside good coverage and shutdown performance on the ground. This Baltimore D is a serious unit, and their linebackers are the starting point for all their success.

Cornerback: Vontae Davis – Indianapolis Colts

Davis lands  a spot on our team for the second week in a row, as the Colts defense improved again to shut out the Cincinnati Bengals in a  27-0 victory at home. Davis allowed just two receptions into his area of coverage for a mere 21 yards, and his contribution to the Colts improvement this season on the defensive side of the ball can not be overstated.

Cornerback: Adam Jones – Cincinnati Bengals

One player who managed to overshadow Davis this week was playing in the same stadium. In spite of the success Indianapolis enjoyed on Sunday, the Bengals D could still rely on Pacman Jones to be strong against the run and allow just 8 yards on two receptions on balls thrown his way. The Bengals are struggling in many areas of the game at the moment, but Jones was excellent and if he can continue to perform like this, the rest of the team will have a great example to follow

Strong Safety: Robert Blanton – Minnesota Vikings

Blanton may have ended up on the losing side against the Bills on Sunday, but his performance alongside former Team of the Week-er Harrison Smith was a bright spot for the Vikings. He managed to be strong in the box against the run and also caught his first career interception. He’s earned his place as a starter this year and the Vikings’ safety duo look as good as any in the league right now.

Free Safety: Glover Quin – Detroit Lions

In a dominant Detroit Lions defense this season the secondary has sometimes been overlooked. Not so this week, as Quin managed 5 tackles and the crucial 4th quarter interception to set up his team for a win at home against the Saints. He has progressed this season into a strong starter and with the trip to London this week the Lions should be hoping to secure a big victory working off the base this D gives them.