Sunday, February 03, 2008

Super Bowl 42: Giants and Patriots Season Trends by Referee

Let's take a look at the regular season performance of the New York Giants and the New England Patriots. We are looking into the teams to better with certain types of referees and worse with other types of referees. We do not have enough games to draw solid conclusions -- but we have an entire season of 16 games, even though 16 is a small sample size.

We are working with what we have -- so let's ignore the strength of the opponent, the weather, and other very important factors. We are going to ignore all those important factors and just focus on correlations between certain referee statistics.

Let's see if there is a correlation between the net points (by how many points the team won) along with a correlation with the Giants' wins. We can't search for a correlation with the Patriots' victories because, well, they won all their games! We are comparing the result of each game with the season-long statistic for the referee who covered that game. For example, in week 8 the New York Giants beat the Miami Dolphins 13-10 in a game that Gerald Austin refereed. So we can compare the Giants win that week with how the referee who covered the game averaged 8.9 penalties per game over the course of the regular season.

Total penalties accepted per game: the Patriots won by a bigger margin with referees who had smaller total penalties per game (-0.387 correlation). The Giants had better net points with referees with larger total penalties per game (-0.151) and won more often with referees with larger total penalties per game (0.118). So, this suggests a referee averaging more penalties per game is better for the Giants. Interesting, but Mike Carey was 9th out of 17 referees so he is pretty much middle of the pack.

Total penalty yards accepted per game: Patriots better with low penalty yards (-0.321) while Giants better with high penalty yards (0.169 for net points; 0.173 for wins). Mike Carey was 11th out of 17, so slightly below average for total penalty yards per game. Slight advantage perhaps to the Patriots.

Average yards per penalty: Patriots like higher yards per penalty (0.162) while Giants somewhat also prefer higher yards per penalty (0.011 for net points; 0.142 for wins). Mike Carey is 14th out of 17 in average yards per penalty.

Total points per game: Patriots somewhat like lower total points per game (-0.154) while Giants very much like lower total points per game (-0.364 for net points; -0.396 for wins). Mike Carey is 6th of 17 for total points per game, so this seems like a slight advantage perhaps to the Patriots.

So if we look for trends by the head referee's season-long statistics, we come up with perhaps a slight advantage to the Patriots. But this is weaker than usual because the Super Bowl has a mixed crew of officials who did not work together in the regular season. So Mike Carey's statistics might not apply for the Super Bowl's mixed-crew.


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