Those dirty New England Patriots are cheating again.
Well, not really. But it seems that way when you look at their record on coin tosses. In the Patriots’ past 25 coin tosses during an NFL game, they have gone 19-6.
Assuming the Patriots aren’t somehow stacking the odds – can coins be deflated? – the chance of winning any single coin toss is 50-50. To win 19 of 25 is very difficult. There’s a less than one percent chance of that happening.
We’ve seen coin toss anomalies around the Panthers before, too, but in the other direction. Remember 2012? The Panthers lost an incredible 13 straight coin tosses to open the season. The odds of doing that were 1 in 8,192.
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The Panthers got so desperate to win one they let fans choose whether to call heads or tails in a road game against Kansas City (the road team always gets to call the toss). But the fans – who voted on the team Facebook page – missed. too.
Finally, Carolina won a toss on its 14th try – at home against Atlanta when the Falcons called the toss incorrectly. The crowd roared its approval. Said Jordan Gross, who had been out on the field for the flip: “I’ve never heard a crowd cheer so loud for winning a coin toss. It was hilarious.”
▪ TO DEFER OR NOT TO DEFER: I bring up coin tosses partly for this reason – when NFL teams win them, most choose to defer their choice to the second half. That means most teams would rather put their defense on the field first and then get the ball at the beginning of the second half.
According to ESPN Stats and Information, entering this week’s NFL games, teams that have won the coin toss in 2015 have deferred their decision 76.4 percent of the time. The league first gave NFL teams the option to defer their choice in 2008. Only 7.8 percent of coin toss winners deferred that year, ESPN reported.
The Panthers routinely defer nowadays, putting their defense on the field first. So do New England, Green Bay and most other teams. Offensive-minded New Orleans is an exception, almost always taking the ball.
You can almost guarantee whoever wins the toss Sunday in the Packers-Panthers 1 p.m. showdown will defer, hoping for the double-dip – scoring at the end of the first half and then again at the beginning of the second.
The Panthers’ most highly publicized coin flip came in 1994, when Carolina won a toss with expansion brethren Jacksonville to get the No. 1 pick in the 1995 draft. The Panthers ended up trading that pick away, however, and drafted Kerry Collins No. 5 overall that year.
▪ BAYLOR’S FAST STARTS: If you are Baylor, though, you probably want to take the ball every time on a coin toss. Baylor is the only team in major college football to have scored on its first drive in every single game this season.
▪ TALKING WITH KEMBA: I had a conversation with Kemba Walker recently about playing team defense (easier) and individual defense (harder) in the NBA. Said Kemba: “It’s always hard to guard guys one-on-one in this league. There just aren’t many great one-on-one defenders because guys are too good offensively.”
I asked Kemba for examples of someone who can do it. The first two he mentioned? Injured teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Chicago’s Jimmy Butler.
▪ CELEB PANTHERS FANS: Are you a major sports celebrity who needs a big break in your career? Consider publicly switching your allegiance to the Panthers. The team’s second-biggest sports celebrity fan is tennis star John Isner, who is so into the Panthers that he live-streams the team’s games (including preseason!) from overseas.
Isner upset Roger Federer this past week at the Paris Masters in what he called one of the best five wins of his career.
As for Steph Curry, the team’s No. 1 celebrity fan: Well, we all know how that’s going.
▪ GOODBYE TO THE SLEEVES: When LeBron James tore up his sleeved jersey after a slow start Wednesday night against the New York Knicks, NBA marketers around the world must have cringed.
That moment will be the kiss of death for a jersey that has never been very popular for players anyway. The sleeved jerseys are really a marketing ploy, since a lot of fans don’t look good in a tank-top jersey and fortunately seem to know it.