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Luck Of The Flip: New England Patriots Defy Probability With Coin Toss Wins
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Luck Of The Flip: New England Patriots Defy Probability With Coin Toss Wins

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Luck Of The Flip: New England Patriots Defy Probability With Coin Toss Wins

Luck Of The Flip: New England Patriots Defy Probability With Coin Toss Wins
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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/455049089/455049090" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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The New England Patriots have recently been very lucky. NPR's Kelly McEvers and Robert Siegel explain the probability of the football team winning the last 19 out of 25 coin tosses.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

It's not like we needed another reason to hate the New England Patriots. There's Deflategate, the fact that they always win, and now this.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

For the past 25 games, the Patriots have won 19 of their coin tosses. Those odds defy probability, even for the four-time Super Bowl champs.

MCEVERS: Because the chance of winning that many times...

STEVE MACEACHERN: That's about half of 1 percent.

MCEVERS: That's Steve MacEachern. He's a professor of statistics at Ohio State University. But while he says winning 19 times is unusual, it's not impossible.

MACEACHERN: If we're thinking about professional football, there are a lot of teams. And if instead of focusing only on the Patriots, you ask what's the chance that at least one of the teams win 19 out of 25, the the probability then is, of course, much larger.

SIEGEL: On the other side of the proverbial coin is losing the toss a lot. In 2011, the Cleveland Browns lost 11 in a row.

MCEVERS: The chances of that - 1 in 2048.

MACEACHERN: Losing 11 in a row is, in fact, quite a feat, but I think probably one of those things that just happens.

SIEGEL: Or does it? For the Pats, anyway, there's been some not-quite-serious speculation that the team has somehow turned the odds in their favor.

MCEVERS: But Steve MacEachern says the chance of winning or losing the toss will always stay at about 50-5.

SIEGEL: Plus, he says, it's pretty hard to deflate a coin.

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