Does The Coin Flip Determine The Super Bowl Winner?


NFL games are routinely decided on a coin flip. Calling heads or tails in overtime can easily determine who has the better odds of winning the game, but how about the opening coin flip? If you look at recent history, you’d think the opening coin toss could even predict the Super Bowl. Let’s see why.

Eight Years Running

Cast your mind back to Super Bowl XLIX in 2015. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots took on the Seattle Seahawks. This game is best remembered for Malcolm Butler’s game-winning interception after the infamous decision to pass instead of run. Do you remember who won the coin toss that year? It was Seattle.

This is significant because it turned the tide of history. In the previous 48 Super Bowls, the record for teams that won the coin flip was exactly 24-24. Ever since 2015, fate has favored the loser. The team that’s lost the coin flip has won every Super Bowl since.

Wait, Seriously?

The following year, the Panthers, who were favored heading into the big game, lost 24-10 to the Denver Broncos. The Atlanta Falcons lost Super Bowl LI in spectacular fashion. They won the coin flip to start the game and built a 28-3 lead. Sadly, the defense could not hang with Brady, and they lost the overtime flip. Patriots won 34-28.

The Patriots were less lucky in 2018 when they won the coin flip but got rolled over by the Philadelphia Eagles. Luckily, the Patriots’ luck grew the following year because the LA Rams won the coin flip. Super Bowl LIII was a low-scoring affair, with the punt-loving Rams losing 13-3.

Not Much Has Changed

The San Fransisco 49ers beat the Kansas City Chiefs in 2020 when they successfully called “tails” to start the game. They even lead going into the fourth quarter. Patrick Mahomes Jr. came to life, however, and the Chiefs won. The following year, Brady and the Buccaneers demolished Mahomes 31-9. The only victory the Chiefs really had that day was a successful “heads” call.

Where does this leave us? Well, nowhere really. Both the Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals are 11-9 this season on coin flips. History has slightly favored tails 29-26 at the Super Bowl, but only slightly. It’s easy to overthink every single decision on game day, but the coin flip is in the hands of fate. If the last seven years are any indication, you should hope your team fails.

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