The match up for the U.S. equivalent of the Melbourne Cup or AFL Premiership has been finalized. In the early game, the Denver Broncos, beneficiaries of playing on their home field, survived a frantic comeback in the final minutes of the game to deny the defending NFL Champion New England Patriots a return trip to the Super Bowl. The Broncos won by the score of 20 – 18, making them the AFC Champions and sending them to Super Bowl 50.
One of the key plays in the game occurred early in the first quarter when Patriots’ placekicker S. Gostkowski missed an extra-point attempt that would have tied the game at 7 – 7. That miss compelled the Patriots to attempt a two-point conversion to tie the game in the fourth quarter with 12 seconds remaining. The extra point kick is still considered more or less a given, even though the NFL moved the kick back this season to where it is now the equivalent to a 33-yard field goal, as opposed to the past where it was a 20-yard chip shot. Had Gostkowski made the earlier kick, the Patriots could have sent the game to overtime with a successful point-after-kick following their fourth-quarter touchdown.
The Carolina Panthers had no such drama in rolling over the Arizona Cardinals 49 – 15 in a yawner that had U.S. fans scrambling for remote channel changers.
The Vegas wise guys have already installed Carolina as four-point favourites. The Super Bowl generates billions of dollars in wagering propositions every year. One Australian bookmaker has close to 100 markets covering the usual fare, plus prop punts ranging from routine to exotic.