For Carolina, better to give than receive

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- You won't find this category among the countless pages of statistics the NFL provides each week, but it is one that has played at least a small role in shaping the Carolina Panthers' season.

The coin toss.

Carolina (6-3) has won the toss eight straight times and has deferred the kickoff to the second half the last seven.

Unlike a lot of teams that like to open on offense in an attempt to get an early lead, the Panthers choose to put their defense out first and take the second-half kickoff. Not a bad move when you have the second-ranked defense in the league.

It's worked.

The defense has given up only six first-quarter points -- two more points came on a safety -- in outscoring opponents 38-8. Until San Francisco kicked a 53-yard field goal on Sunday, Carolina hadn't allowed a team to score on its opening possession.

So what's the value in winning the toss? In terms of wins and losses, according to ESPN statistics, not a lot. Teams that have won the toss and deferred have won 51 percent (47 of 92) of the time. Teams that have won the toss and elected to receive have won 49 percent (27 of 55) of the time.

Carolina is an exception to the odds, going 6-1 (85.7 percent) in games it has won the toss and deferred. The Panthers won the toss to start this strange streak at Buffalo and elected to receive. They lost 24-23 on a touchdown with two seconds to play.

How long can this streak continue? Well, Carolina lost 13 straight coin tosses to begin last season. They were 4-19 during those games, by the way.

Since 2001, the record for most consecutive coin toss wins is 14 (Detroit in 2004-05). The chance of losing 14 straight coin tosses is 1-in-16,384).

The odds of winning eight straight is 1-in-256.