By Shawn Lealos

The Carolina Panthers are preparing to face the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 and are the odds-on favorites to win the game. With Cam Newton at quarterback and Ron Rivera as the head coach, they have what it takes to win the game, but it won’t be easy against Peyton Manning and his Broncos. With the big game only days away, here is a look at the Carolina Panthers news heading into Super Bowl 50.

Las Vegas Likes Carolina Panthers for Super Bowl but Not for 2016

The Las Vegas odds are out on Super Bowl 50 and they have the Carolina Panthers favored to beat the Denver Broncos, with an opening line of between 3.5 and 5.5 point as the favorites. Vegas also likes the Panthers players for the MVP award, with Cam Newton getting 5-7 odds and Peyton Manning being the only Broncos player in the top five. However, Vegas is not as convinced that the Panthers will repeat next year.

Carolina has never had back-to-back winning seasons. As a result, the odds right now of the Panthers winning the Super Bowl in 2016 are 10-1. That is the same odds as the Arizona Cardinals and Green Bay Packers. The favorites to win the Super Bowl when it comes to NFC teams in 2016? That would be the Seattle Seahawks, with 8-1 odds. Carolina beat the Seahawks twice this season, including once in the playoffs, 31-24.

Fan Poll Lists Cam Newton’s Actions as Cause of Criticism

There has been a lot of talk about whether or not Cam Newton is unfairly criticized because of his skin color or because of his actions on the field. While many teammates and coaches defend Newton’s on-field antics as a sign of his joy of playing the game, the poll indicates that 62 percent of the fans polled believe the criticism is directly aimed at Newton’s behavior, and only 14 percent feel it is because of his skin color. Thirty-eight percent of black fans polled feels it is because of his style of play and 34 percent feel it is racially based.

“I don’t even want to touch on the topic of black quarterback, because I think this game is bigger than black, white or even green,” Newton said in response to the criticism. “So I think we limit ourselves when we just label ourselves just black, this, that and the third.”

Carolina General Manager Credits Denver Broncos with Teaching Him How to Win

Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman has been the general manager of the team for three seasons and has three consecutive NFC South titles since taking over. One of those seasons saw the Panthers head into the playoffs with a losing record, but they still made the playoffs. However, long before coming to Carolina, he was a scout with the Denver Broncos, three of those years when Gary Kubiak was the offensive coordinator. Kubiak is now the Broncos head coach. While he moved on to the New York Giants after that, he said he credits the Broncos organization with teaching him how to win.

“It’s one of those deals when you’re fortunate enough to be in a winning program,’’ Gettleman said of the Broncos. “So you know what it should look like, smell like, taste like, feel like and that was a great experience for me. That was first time when I could have kind of … that’s the one where you finally can get your head out of the weeds and really start to get the big picture of what it took.’’

Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. aExaminer.com.

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