Friday, January 19, 2007

NFL Referees Conference Championships

Here is the updated report, with initial statistics based on season-long analysis and adjustments for strength of schedule. By the way, my guess is that Ed Hochuli is a prime candidate to be the ref for the Super Bowl. But there is a big warning -- in the playoffs, the NFL mixes up some of the crew so just the stats for the lead referee in the regular season will not reflect each of the crew members in the actual game. So maybe these stats don't have as much relevance, unless somehow the lead ref imposes his vision on the others:

New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears: Terry McAulay. Pretty middle of the pack, with home teams winning 56% of Terry's games this season. A bit high on the average yards per penalty (8.5 yards for 4th out of 17 referees). Terry is amazingly good for favorites. Using DVOA, home favorites went 7-0 over the season and visiting favorites went 7-2, so good news for Chicago. Also, home teams with more wins went 6-1 in the regular season, another strong sign for Chicago. The last eight games of the season were won by the team with better DVOA. Postscript: As it turns out, the home team Chicago Bears beat the New Orleans Saints by a wide margin.

New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts: Bill Carollo. Over the course of the season, visiting teams did great in Bill Carollo's games -- winning 53% of the time (on its own very impressive, even better considering the strength of schedule predicted visiting teams winning only 45% of the time!) Bill called more penalties on the visiting team in only 33% of the games, the least of the 17 referees. Bill calls less penalties than usual (13th) and one of the lowest average yards per penalty (7.8 yards, 16th out of the refs). All sounds great for NE so far but wait, Bill is great for underdogs too. Underdogs won 50% of the games, when you'd expect them to win around 62% of the time. The team with the larger DVOA is NE, so the underdogs are the Colts this time around. Bill's three games where the visiting team had slightly better DVOA were Colts (home underdog) beat the Eagles 45-21, Cardinals (home underdog) lost to the Rams 14-16, and the Steelers (home underdog) beat the Saints 38-31. Postscript: this game went down to the wire before the home team Indianapolis Colts beat the New England Patriots. It went against Bill's trend by calling more penalties on the visiting team. The average yards per penalty was 7.9 yards, close to Bill's average (even though the other refs were not the ones Bill usually works with).


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