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2016 Super Bowl picks against the spread: The case for each team plus my pick

The public loves the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50. What does that mean for my final picks against the spread for the 2015-2016 season?

SB Nation's Super Bowl 50 Coverage

The season comes to a close Sunday night when the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos square off in Super Bowl 50. The game takes place at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., and kicks off at 6:30 p.m. ET on CBS. Carolina is a 5.5-point favorite, with the point total set at 44.5 points. The line opened at 3.5, moved up to as high as six, and then settled at 5.5. Before getting into my pick, here are some thoughts on why each team might cover.

Why you should pick the Panthers

Plenty of money has been wagered on the Panthers over the last two weeks, with at least 70 percent of the public money being bet consistently on Carolina. This is a red flag because Las Vegas generally is believed to know what it is doing. And yet, it is hard to not take Carolina right now. They have the better offense with Cam Newton, easily the most dynamic playmaker on either offense. Peyton Manning does have better receivers, but he is not what he once was.

And we cannot forget that Carolina has a very solid defense in its own right. Guys like Luke Kuechly, Josh Norman and Kurt Coleman make a ton of plays. The Broncos last Super Bowl appearance was a beatdown at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks, and that Seahawks defense turned that game in a hurry. Denver had the No. 1 defense in 1989 when they faced the San Francisco 49ers, and they took it on the chin that year as well.

Why you should pick the Broncos

When this many people are betting on one side, a bettor needs to think long and hard about whether they should be taking that team. Some would even say they should go running to the other team. Carolina stomped Arizona, while Denver edged out New England. People are prone to over-value more recent events. Casinos in Las Vegas did not build themselves for no reason. Denver could get stomped and Vegas could get killed on this one, but there is a very realistic possibility that is not the case.

My pick

I'm going with Carolina and the over. Plenty will say I'm thinking with my gut not my head, and that's a bad idea. This year opened as a strong year for the public. It settled down at certain stretches for the sharp bettors, but it would be fitting for the season end with a strong public win. This Carolina Panthers team is really good, and is going to finish this season strong. Maybe they don't put a 55-10 beating on Denver, but they are going to win by at least a touchdown.