Las Vegas installed the Panthers as 3.5-point favorites when the Super Bowl matchup was set a little more than a week ago and the general public seems to agree with that take as the line has steadily grown as bettors throw their cash behind the Carolina.
At Super Bowl Opening Night in San Jose on Monday, several members of the Broncos defense said that view of the matchup is fueling their fire heading into Sunday. While the feeling wasn’t unanimous — defensive end Derek Wolfe said that he always plays “angry” — safety T.J. Ward and cornerback Chris Harris each said that being perceived as the weaker team was a factor driving the team.
“It absolutely does,” Ward said. “We feed off the underdog role. It sounds clichéd but I feel like every time challengers knock on the door or the media says what we can’t do, we always answer the challenge. I’m eager to get to Sunday.”
“That’s kinda been our identity all season,” Harris said. “We’ve been underdogs quite a bit this season, more than I have been since I’ve been with the Broncos. We use that all as motivation. I saw on TV that 96 percent of the world thinks we’re going to lose, so you buy into those things and use them as motivation.”
Linebacker Brandon Marshall recounted the underdog tale that took him from being cut by the Jaguars to starting for the AFC champions before saying that people have been doubting the Broncos all season, but “we keep putting wins out.” With one more, doubting season will come crashing to a halt.