Sunday, February 01, 2009

Super Bowl XLIII (Arizona Cardinals-Pittsburgh Steelers 2009): Regular Season Performance With Referees

What if we looked for trends by the Cardinals and the Steelers during the regular season as it matched up with the referees in each of their games?

I've compared the results of each of the games (both the won-loss result and the margin of victory result) and compared them with the qualities of the referee for that game -- is it a referee who called many penalties during the regular season? Is it a referee who had high-scoring games?

Let's take a look at some trends and how they match up with Terry McAulay, the head referee for Super Bowl XLIII. (Terry has a mixed crew for the Super Bowl, so it does not match up exactly with his regular season statistics, but we'll use it anyway.)

Total accepted penalties and total penalty yards: Pittsburgh did well in games where the referee had more total penalties per game (0.351 correlation to scoring margin and 0.150 correlation to the result). It made little difference to the Cardinals. There is a similar result for total penalty yards (Pittsburgh had 0.353 correlation to scoring margin and 0.167 correlation to the result). Terry McAulay was between 7th and 9th in these categories out of 17 referees so this does not seem to be much of a factor in Terry's games. No advantage.

Both teams did better with referees with higher yards per penalty. No advantage.

Total points scored: The high-powered offense of the Cardinals did better in games where the referee had lower-scoring total points per game. The high-powered defense of the Steelers did better when the referee was one who generally had high-scoring games throughout the season. This seems a bit strange, but that's what the statistics say. The Cardinals had a negative correlation to the total points in the referees' games (-0.386 to margin; -0.500 to result) while the Steelers had a positive correlation (0.177 to margin; 0.154 to result). Terry McAulay had lower-scoring total points per game, ranking 12th out of 17 crews. This factor tends to favor the Cardinals and work against the Steelers. Advantage: Cardinals.

Home team win-rate: the Cardinals did well in games with referees with a low win-rate for home teams (-0.500 to margin; -0.648 to result). The Steelers did well in games with referees with a high win-rate for home teams (0.131 to margin; 0.281 to result). Terry McAulay was tied for the 10th-11th best win-rate for the home team. Out of 17 crews, he was a little lower than average. This factor slightly favors the Cardinals and slightly works against the Steelers. Advantage: Cardinals

Of course, let's not go overboard -- the game will probably be decided by the players, not unexplained correlations to the tendencies during the regular season of the referees. Right?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

what were the actual penalities & yards for each team please??

5:27 PM  

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