Around the Nation (Jan. 19): Super Bowl evenly matched according to Vegas oddsmakers

Associated Press Published:

Associated Press

FOOTBALL

Oddsmakers looking at evenly matched Super Bowl

LAS VEGAS — Oddsmakers in this gambling city believe this Super Bowl is one of the most evenly matched ever.

Bettors seemed to favor the Denver Broncos early, though, and sports books on the Las Vegas Strip quickly adjusted their lines to make Denver anywhere from pick ‘em to a 2-point favorite to win the title game.

Some sports books made the Seattle Seahawks favorites while others put up lines favoring the Broncos in a rare split for a game that could be the most bet ever. Still others played it down the middle.

Bettors quickly lined up to back their opinions with money. At the South Point hotel’s sports book, a bettor put $25,000 on the Broncos within minutes of the end of Sunday’s second game, moving the line from pick’em to the Broncos favored by one.

Davis, Feely, Tillman finalists for Walter Payton Award

NEW YORK — Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis, Arizona kicker Jay Feely and Chicago cornerback Charles Tillman have been selected as finalists for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.

The award, named in honor of the late Hall of Fame running back, recognizes a player’s community service and performance on the field. The winner, who’ll receive a $20,000 donation in his name to his favorite charity, will be announced during the NFL Honors show on Feb. 1, the night before the Super Bowl.

Davis, Feely and Tillman were chosen from among the 32 team nominees for the award, and will receive a $5,000 donation in their name.

The seven-person selection panel includes NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and 2012 winner Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys.

GOLF

Patrick Reed holds on to win Humana

LA QUINTA, Calif. — Patrick Reed lost his putting touch for a few hours in the final round of the Humana Challenge. He found it when things were getting interesting.

After shooting three straight 9-under 63s to open a seven-stroke lead, Reed had a 1-under 71 on Sunday at PGA West’s Arnold Palmer Private Course to beat Ryan Palmer by two strokes.

Finally resembling the guy who talked Saturday about being in a “putting coma,” Reed ran in an 18-footer for birdie on the par-3 15th to push his advantage to three strokes and parred the final three holes. He completed the wire-to-wire victory at 28-under 260.

The 23-year-old Reed also won the Wyndham Championship in August.

Palmer made a 15-foot eagle putt on the final hole for a 63.

TENNIS

Sharapova out in another early upset at Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia — Maria Sharapova followed Serena Williams out of the Australian Open in the fourth round, losing 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 to Dominika Cibulkova on Monday in the second major upset in 24 hours on Rod Laver Arena.

Third-seeded Sharapova struggled with her serve, getting broken four straight games after failing to serve out the first set. After taking an off-court medical time out after the second set for what appeared to be a lower back problem, she had seven double-faults in the third set.

The four-time major winner was two tournaments into a comeback from a prolonged layoff with a right shoulder injury.

Top-ranked Williams was knocked out in a three-set loss to 14th-seeded Ana Ivanovic on Sunday, and later revealed she had a back problem that had her considering withdrawing from the tournament.

The absence of two of the biggest stars in women’s tennis opens up the draw for two-time defending champion Victoria Azarenka, who was playing No. 13-seeded Sloane Stephens later Monday.

Sharapova made it hard for herself in Australia, having difficulty closing out her second- and third-round matches. She needed almost 31⁄2 hours to beat Karin Knapp in searing heat the second round — playing 50 minutes before her first and final match points.

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