Friday, January 12, 2007

NFL Playoff Referee Report: Conference Semi-finals

Indianapolis Colts-Baltimore Ravens: Bill Leavy. Bill might be a good sign for Baltimore because home teams do well in Bill's games. Bill was the third best for home teams out of 17 refs this season (won 60% when the the teams involved suggest only 45%). Also, home teams that were overall stronger went 5-1 in Bill's games (using DVOA as a yardstick) or went 4-1 in Bill's games (using W-L as a yardstick). Bill calls some of the least number of penalties of the refs (15th out of 17). So much for being a good sign for Baltimore after the Ravens lose the field goal-fest. Bill called only 9 penalties, which is very low for a game, so at least that characteristic held up.

Philadelphia Eagles-New Orleans Saints: Mike Carey. Good news for the home team New Orleans Saints. Mike was the best for home teams, who won 67% of his games. He called the second-highest percentage of the penalties against the visitors (59%). Also surprising is that his games had around 6 points less than you'd expect for the teams involved (and had less total points in 13 of his 15 games). The rare high-scoring game is still possible, though, such as the 42-30 Seattle win over the Giants in week 3. But the visiting team (Philadelphia) has a better W-L record and had a better DVOA during the season. Home teams with a lower DVOA went 5-4 over the season. So the game might go either way after all. Postscript: it wound up being good for the home team, with a victory and a key false start penalty against the visiting team in the 4th quarter. Mike called twice as many penalties against the visiting Eagles so that followed Mike's season-long trend. The number of points scored, though, bucked the trend, because it was pretty high-scoring.

Seattle Seahawks-Chicago Bears: Gerry Austin. Gerry had the highest average yards per penalty so lots of high-yardage penalties were called so his crew is not afraid to throw the flag for long penalties. For example, he is 8th (out of 17) in the number of penalties but jumps up to 3rd in total penalty yards, ranking at the very top in average yards per penalty (9.2 yards, second place is at 8.8). Gerry is also tops in the percent of penalties called against the visiting team and the number and yardage of penalties against the visiting team. So lots of penalties against visiting teams. But that doesn't translate to tons of home team wins. Home teams won 53% of the time, right on the league average. Home teams won 75% of Gerry's games over the first half of the season but only 29% over the second half so Gerry's results were very skewed first for then against home teams. The strength of the teams wasn't that different -- you'd expect 57% home wins over the first half and 51% home wins over the second half. Chicago's DVOA is a big 37% more than Seattle's and home teams with DVOA advantages went 6-2 in Gerry's games. But the huge DVOA advantage is an especially bad sign for Seattle -- home teams with 30-40% DVOA advantage went 21-2 this season for all refs. Home teams with 4 more regular-season wins went 9-3 this season for all refs. Postscript: well, the home team won in overtime so it was a very close game. And the most distinguishing detail about Gerry -- a large average yards per penalty -- didn't happen in the game, which had an average of only 8 yards per penalty and a majority of the penalties were against the home team, not the visitors.

New England Patriots-San Diego Chargers: Tony Corrente. Home teams slightly worse than average in Tony's games, winning 47% as opposed to the 53% league average. But Tony is pretty close to what you'd expect when you factor in the strength of schedule (visiting teams had a better DVOA 10 out of 15 games and more season-wins 8 times, equal 3 times, and less wins only 4 times). By DVOA, the teams are very evenly matched, which is rare for Tony's games this season. By season-wins, the home team SD has 2 more wins. When home teams had 3+ more wins in Tony's games, they went 3-1. For all refs, when the home team has a less than 10% DVOA advantage, home teams went 27-15 (64% rate). For all refs, when the home team had 2 more wins, they only went 4-4 (50%). Postscript: wow, Tony called lots of significant penalties, including two personal fouls that affected the game. But overall, not a large number of penalties. As far as the score, a very close game.


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