Go-to guide on how to bet on Super Bowl 50

There’s no bigger day for Las Vegas and bookmakers across the country than Super Bowl Sunday.

It’s much more than a matchup against the best teams in the NFL. It’s slowly become part of American tradition. Everyone joins in on the occasion, whether it’s for the game, the food or the alcohol.

Then, there’s the betting.

There was an estimated $119 million placed two years ago in Las Vegas sportsbooks, and slightly declined last year to $116 million. The number is expected to stay around that range this Sunday for Super Bowl 50, with another $4 billion in bets coming from illegal bets like Super Bowl boxes and illegal bookmakers all across the country.

Here’s my advice for betting the Carolina Panthers versus the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50.

Stay away from the game itself

The favored Panthers (-5.5) are the clear favorite. A young, breakout quarterback in Cam Newton leads a 17-1 team into the big game. There aren’t many injuries that are catastrophic to the outcome of the game and it seems their defense, led by Pro Bowlers linebacker Luke Kuechly and cornerback Josh Norman, is clicking at the right time.

It’s almost too good to be true – and I think it is.

Peyton Manning, the quarterback of the Denver Broncos, may be playing in his final NFL game. Everyone is concerned about Manning’s burdens: his weakened arm strength, prolonged neck issues, age and history in the Super Bowl (1-2 record). But what I saw last week against Tom Brady’s New England Patriots was vintage Manning. He reverted back to his gunslinger ways, dropping passes with pinpoint accuracy and firing in throws as if he was an MVP candidate again.

He also hasn’t thrown an interception in 78 pass attempts. It’s not likely he’ll keep that up, but it’s a great sign for an aging quarterback who has as many doubters as he does.

The Broncos rank No. 4 in the NFL defensive efficiency ratings, while the Panthers rank sixth. One play can make a difference in the game. It’s very possible the Broncos win the game, and more likely they’ll cover the spread. But at any point, Newton and the high-powered Carolina offense can strike and overpower a top defense in the league.

To be safe, don’t bet the game itself. Instead …

Take player proposition bets

A proposition bet is one of the nation’s most popular ways to bet the game. You don’t have to root for a certain team, rather a specific situation to occur. There are bets are the winner of the coin toss, the length of the national anthem and whether or not Manning will announce his retirement during his postgame press conference, included on sports books.

But be careful when taking prop bets. All of those bets, and more, are contingent on luck and predetermined ideas.

Instead, focus on player propositions – a list of bets pertaining to the success of a player on the field. There’s a huge list of player props that spans from offensive players, to the defense, to even the punters.

Betting these types of bets does take some luck, but the bettor has much more control over these than anything else.

The Broncos have one of the best rush defenses in the entire league, with star players like linebackers DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller. The front-seven has studied game tape of Carolina’s offense and have zoned in on watching Newton and his mobile game.

Between a focus on stopping Newton and an already-dominant defense, Newton’s touches and rush yards will be diminished. But the passing game will certainly be in effect. And no other player comes to mind than Panthers tight end Greg Olsen. He’s been Newton’s favorite target this year and proved it to be true again in Carolina’s 49-15 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game. He was targeted eight times for six catches for 113 yards.

For my prop picks, Cam Newton with less than 42.5 rushing yards and Olsen with more than 5.5 receptions is the way to go.

Take the Panthers in the first half (-3)

I do expect the game to come down to the wire, but not at first.

This postseason, the Panthers are known to make a statement in the first half. Two weeks ago, Carolina put up 31 first-half points against a stingy Seattle Seahawks defense. Last week, it was 24 points against the Cardinals.

I don’t see them slowing down any time soon when coming out of the gates.

In the Broncos’ last three games played, they’ve put up an average of 11 points in the first half while using the second half to begin the comeback.

Take a safe bet

There are ways to safely bet the Super Bowl and not have a dire risk of losing money.

A teaser is one of the safer ways to do it. A teaser allows a bettor to bet on two adjusted and favored point spreads, but will expect a lower return if it hits. I still stand by not taking the game, but taking it at a different spread is different.

A two-team, six-point teaser that is intriguing is the Broncos +11 1/2 and under 51 points scored. With two top defenses, it’s hard to imagine either team can score a combined 50 points, even with two surging offenses.

Don’t be afraid to make a bold bet

Even if you aren’t a football fan, there’s still a euphoric rush when taking a bet. There are plenty of opportunities to take bets, especially in low-risk, high-reward settings. Many bets offer that exact scenario, including who will score the first touchdown of the game and Super Bowl MVP.

I think this game will be close – too close. My bold bet is for the first time in NFL history, the Super Bowl will go into overtime. With a line of +750 – bet $10 to win $75 – it can happen.

You never know.

Jordan Grossman is the co-senior sports editor and can be reached at jordan.grossman@ubspectrum.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jordanmgrossman