Both the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos finished near the top of the NFL in defense and promise to present challenges for Cam Newton and Peyton Manning. But stopping an opposing offense and creating a defensive highlight are different things, and for the defenses to make an impact in sportsbooks they'll have to do the latter.
Defensive touchdowns and safeties are rare, but the Panthers and Broncos are among the best in the league at forcing turnovers and mistakes, so it's not out of the question that they could force big problems for the opposition.
The list of defensive and special teams prop bets on Bovada is extensive, but here's a breakdown of a few of the bigger ones:
Will a special teams or defensive TD be scored?
There were no special teams or defensive touchdowns in Super Bowl XLIX last year, but they've been a common theme in recent Super Bowls. Prior to the matchup of the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots last year, there had been a defensive touchdown in four of the six Super Bowls prior, and a 108-yard kickoff return from Jacoby Jones in Super Bowl XLVII, making "Yes" the winning bet in five of six years.
The Broncos are a dream come true for this bet after finishing No. 29 in the NFL in giveaways and No. 8 in takeaways. While the Panthers were much more careful with the football, finishing No. 8 in giveaways, no team forced more turnovers than Carolina.
Josh Norman and Aqib Talib each finished the regular season with two interception return touchdowns, but the X-factor could be Denver's return game. While the Panthers never got much going in 2015 with punt and kickoff returns, they allowed a kickoff and a punt return touchdown during the regular season. The loss of Omar Bolden could cancel that out, but if Shiloh Keo or Jordan Norwood are given a lane by the Panthers special teams, it could mean a game-changing play and a win for "yes" betters.
The +140 and tendency for crazy things to happen in the Super Bowl makes "Yes" the way to go on this one.
Total QB sacks
Over 5.5 EVEN
Under 5.5 -130
Six sacks in a game is a lot, but the Panthers and Broncos are two of the best teams at bringing down opposing passers. No team finished with more sacks than the Broncos, who averaged just over three sacks per game in the regular season and kept that average going in the postseason with seven sacks in two games. Pass rushers like Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware are terrors off the edge, but have the tall task of bringing down Cam Newton. Still, Newton was sacked 33 times in 16 regular season starts, so it's not an impossible feat.
The sacks may really rack up on the other side, though. Denver offensive tackles Ryan Harris and Michael Schofield have been a liability all season and Peyton Manning is a far easier passer to bring down than Newton, although Manning has made a career out of getting rid of the ball quickly with subpar protection in front of him.
While the health of Jared Allen raises questions about his ability to get to Manning, the Panthers tallied 42 regular season sacks from players other than Allen and the main concern for the Broncos will be blocking defensive tackle Kawann Short, who led the Panthers with 11 sacks.
Both defenses should be able to find pressure, so over 5.5 is probably the way to go on Sunday.
Will there be a safety?
Any time a number is as big as +550, it's tempting to roll the dice at the big odds and take a chance at multiplying your money in a big way. But safeties are so exceedingly rare, that even +550 doesn't seem like it's a high enough multiplier to warrant taking the chance.
It's such a rare and unlikely event that Bovada didn't offer the prop and it's instead available at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.
In the 49 years of Super Bowl history, there have been eight safeties recorded and there has been a crazy run of four safeties in the last seven years, including a three-year streak that was snapped when there wasn't a safety in Super Bowl XLIX last year.
Even with the anomaly of so many safeties in recent Super Bowls, there were just 15 safeties during the 2015 regular season and playoffs. That's not many considering the 15 safeties came in a span of 266 games, which is 5.6 percent of games.
If the numbers were closer to +1000, then betting on a safety would be a worthwhile try, but at just +550 you're better off betting on something like the +500 odds that Peyton Manning is shown crying during the broadcast.