Sunday, December 24, 2006

Referees Influence Total Points Scored?

There is anecdotal evidence that referees do influence the total number of points scored in a game. Some crews are consistently more lenient on defenses than others (for example, if they call defensive pass interference or holding differently). The theory is that the referees are not biased against either team, but just have different interpretations of the NFL rules. And that players are aware of each referee's tendencies so they can score more points if the crew is offense-friendly.

Let's periodically look at this theory. One way to test it is to check the average points scored in a referee's games and check it against what we'd expect based on the teams involved, using the average total points in the team's games over the season.

Week 15:
Ron Winter (covering SD-Seattle): NFL average (41.1 total points), Expected from Ron's teams (40.3 total points), Ron's games (38.0 total points).

So Ron's actual total points is 3.1 less than the NFL average and 2.3 less than what you'd expect considering which teams were in his games.

Take this with a grain of salt, though, because both SD and Seattle have higher than average points per game (especially because the SD offense has the highest average points scored per game at 31.8 per game).

Ed Houcholi: his games have slightly less total points scored than usual: 2.6 points below the NFL average and 2.8 points below what you'd expect for the teams in his games. His total points average so far is 38.5 points per game.

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