Super Bowl 50: Where this line is headed and why

Vegas insider Todd Fuhrman nailed the Over in the NFC Championship Game with ease. Now he shares his analysis on the opening line for Super Bowl 50.

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We throw the phrase "recency bias" around all the time in handicapping. It's a term that means remembering what we saw last more vividly than an entire body of work.

This phenomenon impacts regular-season spreads but forces linemakers to completely overhaul their opening numbers during the NFL's postseason.

Coming into Championship Sunday, the look-ahead line on Carolina vs. Denver in the Super Bowl was listed at at Panthers -3 by most books.

In just a few short hours, Denver's dominating defensive performance against the formerly resurgent Patriots became an afterthought upon seeing Carolina boat race Arizona. Because of the disparate performances of our two title game combatants, books needed to account for public perception and shaded the opening line towards Carolina.

Sportsline Image
Sun 02/07 6:30 PM EST
Carolina -210 O/U 43.5
vs. Denver +180 +4.5
DEN +4.5
OVER 43.5
DEN +180

That's why we saw opening numbers as high as Carolina -5.5.

While it's still too early to gauge true public sentiment, I fully expect casual bettors to back the Panthers on the strength of their blowout victory. It's not unreasonable to expect a 65/35 split on ticket volume, with professional support coming in on the underdog as the price drifts out.

The total isn't nearly as inflated, sitting right at a reasonable 45, despite Carolina's now wallet-fattening 12-5-1 record to the Over. After yesterday's AFC Championship Game, Denver is 6-11-1 to the Under.

Carolina drubbed an Arizona team that many called the NFL's best, most complete team. Denver upset New England yet needed to dodge last-minute heroics from Tom Brady to punch its ticket to Santa Clara, Calif.

Oddsmakers scrambled to hang a number that would create strong two-way action on the single-most bet game every year in North American sports. We saw most of the respected shops hang prices as high as Carolina -5.5 initially, while others opened at the other end of the spectrum, using Carolina -3 (-125).

The market eventually settled out at -4/-4.5 and 45/45.5, a compromise so to speak. It's nearly impossible to say one line is more correct than another this late in the year, because every bookmaker understands that going entirely off power ratings for a game of this magnitude leaves you vulnerable.

With nearly two full weeks before kickoff, handicappers try to dissect every possible angle while those on the other side of the counter begin to assess their threshold for risk.

There are no guarantees as to where this line will go. But as a betting man I'll offer this opinion: Expect initial support from casual bettors to drive Carolina's price upward, while the pros intrigued by the dog sit idly by waiting for the tides to rise.

If you're looking for a pick or best bet this far out, you're sorely mistaken. We'll have plenty of great Super Bowl coverage from SportsLine every step of the way.

Only a few short days before kickoff will we become married to our opinions.

Todd Fuhrman arrived to SportsLine with an extensive resume in the sports gambling industry. Fuhrman got his start at Caesars Palace as a financial analyst back in 2005 before transitioning into sportsbook operations full time. Since his departure from the Palace back in 2011, he's experienced a meteoric rise as a gambling insider and trusted voice in the field. During his previous stint at Fox Sports he covered every sport with a point spread ranging from college and pro football to NASCAR and soccer. Follow Todd @ToddFuhrman