Wednesday, January 16, 2008

NFL Conference Championships (i.e. the semifinals): Chargers at Patriots and Giants at Packers

Various bloggers are listing the likely referees for the upcoming NFL Conference Championships in the San Diego Chargers at New England Patriots game and the New York Giants at the Green Bay Packers.

As in other playoffs, the NFL is mixing up the crews. Let's take a look at the crews for each game. In parentheses is the crew that the official was part of during the regular season:

Chargers at Patriots:
R- Jeff Triplette (Triplette)
U- Butch Hannah (Anderson)
HL- Steve Stelljes (Triplette)
LJ- Gary Arthur (Carollo)
FJ- Tom Sifferman (Hochuli)
SJ- Greg Meyer (Triplette)
BJ- Greg Steed (Triplette)

So the Chargers game is pretty much a Triplette crew with just a few substitutes. Can we analyze it as if it will be similar to the usual Triplette crew or will the substitutes mess up our ability to predict how this crew will perform?

Giants at Packers:
R- Terry McAulay (McAulay)
U- Roy Ellison (Winter)
HL- Jim Mello (McAulay)
LJ- Jeff Bergman (Boger)
FJ- Scott Steenson (Boger)
SJ- Rick Patterson (Anderson)
BJ- Perry Paganelli (Parry)

Wow, only the head linesman is from McAulay's crew. This is really a mixture of lots of different crews -- the seven officials come from five different crews. We can analyze the regular season numbers of McAulay's regular season crew, but this bunch might really be different from how McAulay's crew did in the regular season. As if trying to predict the tendencies of referee crews weren't hard enough, now we have to factor in the mixture of the crews.

Let's look at the regular season statistics for the crews led by the same referee:

Chargers at Patriots: Jeff Triplette. Tied for 5th out of 17 for best ref for the home team's winning rate (67%). Near the bottom in penalties per game (14th) and yards per penalty (15th) so of course near the bottom in penalty yards per game (15th). 4th-most for percent of penalties called against the visiting team (55%). Middle of the pack (9th) in total points scored per game and near the top (4th) in home team points scored per game. Near the bottom (16th) in amount of penalty yards called against the home team at just 36.8 per game. Tied at the top in the percent of his games in which the visiting team had more penalties than the home team (70%). Overall, home teams did pretty well in Jeff's games during the regular season with not so many penalties called per game -- especially few called against the home team. Note: see a separate blog post for 2008 statistics. These are the 2007 statistics.

Giants at Packers: Terry McAulay. (Well, Terry has a mixed crew but let's look at this as if it were Terry's regular season crew so we can draw on our statistics. Why look at the real crew when the only stats we have are for the regular season crew, right?) Tops for the home team winning rate at 75%. This guy was great for home teams in the regular season! Strangely, the lowest total points scored per game of any of the refs at 35.5 per game. Second-lowest for visiting team points per game (15.9) and worst for home team points per game (19.6). For penalties, middle of the pack on number per game and a bit on the high side for average yards per penalty. Number one in calling the largest percentage of penalties and penalty yards against visiting teams (59% by penalties and 60% by penalty yards)! On average 18.9 more penalty yards against visiting teams per game than against home teams.

Let's look at the Giants-Packers crew for home team win rate, knowing it's a mixed crew. The referee and heads linesman were on the top crew for home teams in the regular season. The line judge, field judge, and back judge were on crews that tied for second-best for home teams. The side judge was on the 9th best out of 17 for home teams. Only the umpire worked on a pro-visiting team crew, which was 15th out of 17 for home team win rate in the regular season.

Overall, if you assume the referees control everything and that the players on the field had nothing to do with the results of any of the games (have I made it clear that this whole analysis requires a huge disclaimer?), then I'd say that the crew on the Giants-Packers game would be a very good one for the home team (Packers) and that the crew in the Chargers-Patriots game is pretty good for the home team (Patriots). If the Chargers fall behind early, I might suggest that they start committing penalties and hope that Jeff Triplette (somewhat near the bottom in penalties per game) lets both teams get away with a little holding here and there.

It's like knowing the strike zone for the particular umpire in baseball -- if the referee has certain tendencies, you should use that knowledge to your advantage during the game! Just make sure you aren't videotaping the other team's sideline. Or go ahead if it'll help you win, just pay a little money afterwards.


Blogger Riggs said...

where did you find the info on who is ref'n this weekends games?

12:54 AM  
Blogger Henry Holland said...

Yes, who are the "various bloggers"? Not casting aspersions, honest, just curious about the source, because I'm kind of a referee geek and I a fan of Terry McAulay, so I'd like for him to add the NFC title game to his resume.

Why is Mr. McAulay allegedly only getting one guy from his regular crew, but the quite good Jeff Triplette gets four? Teamwork is very important in refereeing too.

Um, go Packers and Chargers....

2:45 AM  

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