We tend to only focus on NFL referees after a controversial decision or bad no-call. Yet each head NFL referee and his respective crew interprets the game differently.
Gaining insight into the way a game will be officiated can have immense value in the betting market.
A referee who calls more penalties for defensive holding and roughing the passer has a far different impact on game flow than a ref who focuses more on offensive holding and false starts.
Referee style one week may hide a team’s weakness (defensive backs) whereas the following week, a different official who leans heavily on calling pass interference will compound that weakness. Same team. Different outcomes.
Throughout this 2022 NFL season, we’ll help to identify important trends and tendencies by different NFL referees to help you gain an edge when placing a bet.
Read more about the Conference Championship games and how officiating may impact the betting market:
NFL Referee Assignments for the Conference Championship Games
|49ers at Eagles||John Hussey|
|Bengals at Chiefs||Ron Torbert|
John Hussey’s Impact on Eagles vs 49ers
John Hussey is the head referee for the Eagles vs 49ers NFC Championship playoff game. Let’s break down how Hussey may impact this game and betting markets.
How does John Hussey Impact this Game?
The 49ers at Eagles game kicks off Championship Sunday. John Hussey, along with three officials from his regular season crew, will be officiating the game with members of other crews. One member from the Blakeman, Torbert, and Novak crews will round out the seven game officials.
Offensive Holding/Defensive Holding/Roughing the Passer
- The 49ers average 5.26 penalties per game and the Eagles are at 5.28 per game. John Hussey is calling 46.5% of overall penalties on the home team this season.
- The 49ers have two areas of concern. Offensive holding and to a lesser extent, defensive holding.
- John Hussey has ranked in the upper half of all referees for offensive holding just once in the past five seasons. This season he called the fewest offensive holding penalties in the NFL.
- John Hussey ranked in the bottom third of all referees for defensive holding in 2020 and 2021. This season he called the fewest penalties in this key category.
- The Eagles’ penalty issues this season were false start, ineligible man downfield, and unnecessary roughness. John Hussey ranked third overall in unnecessary roughness penalties this season.
- Hussey ranked last in the NFL for roughing the passer penalties. He called one in 16 games officiated this season.
The Bottom Line:
- The Eagles are a perfect 6-0 on the moneyline and 6-0 ATS when John Hussey officiates their games. Four of those were at The Linc in Philadelphia, most recently a 26-17 win on SNF vs the Cowboys in Week 6.
- The 49ers are 4-1 on the moneyline and ATS with John Hussey. This includes their 37-20 NFC Championship win vs the Packers in 2020 in Santa Clara.
- Home teams with John Hussey are 75-38 since the start of the 2016 season, a 67% win rate. That’s the best home-field record for any official over that span.
- In those games, the home team was 64-45-4 ATS (59%).
- Home teams were 11-5 on the moneyline and 9-6-1 ATS this season with Hussey. Those games were 11-5 to the under.
- John Hussey has officiated six playoff games and home teams are 4-2 on the moneyline and 3-3 ATS. The six playoff games averaged a combined score of 45.5 points scored.
From a penalty standpoint, there is no significant edge either way in this game.
Hussey has been one of the best under referees this season and the NFC Championship should be a “let ‘em play” type game. The under is probably the play in this game.
If there’s one factor that tips the scales to a side, it’s the Eagles are at home. That combined with the prolonged success of home teams with Hussey is hard to ignore. Fly Eagles, Fly. On the road to victory.
The Philadelphia Eagles -2.5 points is the play.
Ron Torbert’s Impact on Chiefs vs Bengals
Ron Torbert is the head referee for the Chiefs vs Bengals AFC Championship game. Let’s break down how Torbert may impact this game and betting markets.
How does Ron Torbert Impact this Game?
Conference Championship Sunday in the AFC gives us the fourth game in just over a year between the Chiefs and Bengals. Ron Torbert is the referee, however, none of his regular crew is assigned to officiate the game.
The officiating crew consists of members from the Brad Rogers, Carl Cheffers, Scott Novak, Tra Blake, and Brad Allen crews.
Neither the Chiefs with Patrick Mahomes nor Bengals with Joe Burrow have an extensive history with Torbert. However, the familiarity edge is squarely in favor of Cincinnati.
Three of the Bengals’ last 19 games have been officiated by Ron Torbert, including Super Bowl LVI.
Defensive Pass Interference/Defensive Holding/Roughing the Passer
- The Chiefs average 5.0 penalties per game this season. The Bengals average 5.0 penalties per game this season. That is not an error. Both teams average exactly 5.0 penalties per game. Ron Torbert averaged 10.75 penalties per game, with 51.75% called on the home team.
- The Bengals are the most even-keeled team in the NFL from a penalty perspective. They have no major flaws. If there is one area of concern, it would be roughing the passer. It wasn’t a major issue for them this season, but something to be mindful of vs a less than 100% Mahomes.
- Ron Torbert has been at or slightly above league average for roughing the passer penalties over the past three seasons.
- The Chiefs have two areas of concern. They rank in the top ten for offensive holding and lead the NFL as the most penalized team for defensive pass interference penalties.
- Ron Torbert was co-leader in the NFL this season for pass interference penalties. The side judge and back judge on this game are from the Tra Blake and Brad Allen crews. They were at or slightly above league average this season in this key category.
The Bottom Line:
- Home teams are 47-66-1 ATS (42%) with Ron Torbert since the 2016 season. This season home teams were 9-7 ATS with Torbert.
- Since 2020 Ron Torbert officiated games are 36-17 to the Under (70%) and he was 9-7 to the Under this season.
- In seven playoff games as the head referee, home teams are 4-3 on the moneyline and 4-3 ATS with Ron Torbert. The total was 4-3 to the Over in those contests. Those games averaged 43.5 points scored.
- The Bengals with Joe Burrow are 2-1 with Ron Torbert, but are 3-0 ATS. Their one loss was vs the Rams in the Super Bowl. Torbert officiated the Bengals’ 27-18 Week 18 victory vs the Ravens.
- The Chiefs are also 2-1 with Mahomes at QB with Ron Torbert officiating. Their one loss was in Week 17 of the 2021 season. The assigned referee that day was John Hussey. Due to COVID-19, he was unable to officiate the game. Ron Torbert was the replacement and he officiated the 34-31 victory for Cincinnati. Kansas City was penalized ten times in that game, three of those were for defensive pass interference
- In their three-game series to date, the Bengals have been penalized twice for defensive pass interference. The Chiefs have been penalized five times.
In assessing the AFC Championship from an officiating angle, two things stand out. Ron Torbert’s totals record in the past 50 games provides as strong an endorsement to take the under as any referee can provide.
The Bengals have been the beneficiary of at least one defensive pass interference in all three games vs the Chiefs. Of all the penalty categories it is the most impactful, it only takes one call to potentially tilt the field position.
This game is a coin toss from a side perspective but the officiating edge does favor the Bengals ever so slightly.
The discrepancy in defensive pass interference penalties when these two face off may again be a key factor on Sunday. For that reason alone, the Bengals have the edge here to make it four straight vs the Chiefs.
The AFC Championship play is the Cincinnati Bengals.
2022 NFL Referees Stats & Their Historical Betting Trends
Comprehensive breakdown for every NFL Referee working games for the 2022 season, plus a deeper look at their penalty-calling trends, statistics and how it may impact betting opportunity plus pace of game play.
- Shawn Hochuli penalty trends
- Bill Vinovich penalty trends
- John Hussey penalty trends
- Brad Allen penalty trends
- Jerome Boger penalty trends
- Adrian Hill penalty trends
- Brad Rogers penalty trends
- Ron Torbert penalty trends
- Shawn Smith penalty trends
- Carl Cheffers penalty trends
- Clay Martin penalty trends
- Scott Novak penalty trends
- Clete Blakeman penalty trends
- Craig Wrolstad penalty trends
Shawn Hochuli: Referee Penalty Trends & Betting Stats
In his 63-game career, Shawn Hochuli is a notoriously smart bet when betting on the Under.
- 35-26-2 to UNDER (57%) for his career
- 11-6 UNDER record (65%) in the 2021 NFL season
- 17-6-1 UNDER (74%) in divisional match-ups for his career
- 5-2 UNDER (73%) in divisional match-ups in 2021
Some might argue that Hochuli likes to be the center of attention at times, as was evident when Hochuli officiated the 2021 Thanksgiving debacle (Raiders vs Cowboys) with a combined 28 penalties for 276 yards.
- Hochuli oversaw the controversial 2021 Week 15 Seahawks vs Rams with the “no pass interference” call that effectively doomed Seattle in a 20-10 loss.
- Hochuli called 3rd most penalties (13.12) per game in 2021 for 118 yards per game.
- Hochuli called the most defensive pass interference calls in 2021, a stat that is skewed by the Dallas vs Las Vegas game where he called that infringement 5 times.
Bill Vinovich: Referee Penalty Trends & Betting Stats
Bill Vinovich is the epitome of a “let ’em play” NFL referee. This means that Vinovich’s officiating crews typically don’t favor team offenses — and therefore you may find opportunity when betting the Under.
Last season in 2021, Vinovich and his crew called the fewest penalties per NFL game:
- average of 9.06 penalties per game
- average of 75 yards penalized per game
- called the fewest (zero!) roughing the passer penalties in 2021
- fewest defensive holding penalties per game
- the 2nd fewest pass interference penalties
Over the past six seasons, Vinovich’s lack of penalty calling has resulted in a:
- 61-36-2 UNDER record (63%) for his career
- 25-14-2 UNDER (65%) in Divisional match-ups for his career
- 10-6 UNDER (63%) in the 2021 NFL season
Vinovich has been the head referee in the Super Bowl twice: in Super Bowl LIV (Chiefs vs 49ers) & Super Bowl XLIX (Seahawks vs Patriots).
A final point supporting Vinovich’s “let ’em play” philosophy: Every NFL bettor & fan remembers the Rams vs. Saints 2019 NFC Championship game:
Known in New Orleans as the “NOLA NO-CALL” when Saints WR Tommy Lee Lewis was tackled by Rams CB Nickell Robey Coleman at the 13-yard line but no flag was thrown.
It probably cost the Saints a spot in the Super Bowl and highlights again why it’s not just the penalties called we focus on, but which NFL referee is LESS likely to make that big call — which is equally as impactful in many cases.
John Hussey: Referee Penalty Trends & Betting Stats
John Hussey has been the best referee for home teams since the start of the 2016 season.
Hussey’s officiating trends towards a “let ‘em play” style:
- Hussey called the 3rd fewest penalties per game in 2021
- Hussey called near the fewest in NFL in key penalty categories: unnecessary roughness, roughing the passer & defensive holding
- Hussey led the NFL in 2021 in calling the newly implemented “unsportsmanlike conduct” penalty
Over the past 6 seasons, when Hussey is the referee, home teams have been heavy favorites, going:
- 64-33 (66%) against the Moneyline
- 29-11 (73%) against the Moneyline in Divisional match-ups
- 55-39-3 (59%) against-the-spread (ATS)
- 28-10-2 (74%) ATS in Divisional match-ups
- 11-5 ML & ATS in the 2021 NFL season
Brad Allen: Referee Penalty Trends & Betting Stats
Brad Allen is a former ACC referee who is unique in that he transitioned immediately from college football directly to a head NFL referee.
His style gravitates to “let ’em play” although he had one outlier season where he led NFL in penalties.
Brad Allen has been a solid “home field advantage” referee. Since 2016, home favorites have gone:
- 57-38 (60%) against the Moneyline
- 53-40-2 (57%) ATS
Home underdogs are 20-11-1 ATS (65%) since 2016 when Brad Allen has been the referee.
Need more evidence that Allen favors the home team and lets both teams play?
- He called only 44% of penalties on home teams in 2021
- 54-41 Under (57%) in past six seasons
- 23-12 Under (66%) in divisional games
Jerome Boger: Referee Penalty Trends & How it may impact betting
Boger’s officiating style can be considered offense friendly. His approach creates the opportunity for offenses to excel with his combination of very few offensive holding penalties with an above average count in defensive pass interference & defensive holding penalties. As a result Boger has been a solid Over referee in his career.
- 53-41 over (56%) since 2016
- 21-12 over (64%) in Division match-ups since 2016
- 19-12 over (62%) in 2020/2021 NFL seasons
- Called fewest offensive holding penalties in 2021 & 3rd fewest in 2020
- Boger ranks in the mid tier range in calling defensive pass interference & his crew always provides the possibility of a penalty to extend drives.
Jerome Boger was the referee for SB XLVII, a Ravens 34-31 victory vs 49ers. More recently he officiated the 2021 Wild Card matchup Raiders at Bengals which was marred by bad calls including the errant whistle blown on the Joe Burrow TD pass to Tyler Boyd in the Bengals 26-19 win.
Adrian Hill: Referee Penalty Trends & How it may impact betting
Adrian Hill has been a head referee since 2019. Small body of work (47 games) but definitely trending under.
Very even keeled, his home/away splits are similar and Hill is generally around the average mark in most key penalty categories. Hill is what the NFL would probably prefer: a solid ref that to date who hasn’t been involved in controversial calls.
- 30-16-1 Under (66%) in his 47 game career
- 9-4-1 Under (66%) in Division match-ups
Brad Rogers: Referee Penalty Trends & How it may impact betting
Rogers is another new referee but his brief career has resulted in an astounding totals record. Since his debut in 2019 Brad Rogers has gone over the total in 70% of games.
Rogers went 11-1 Over in 2020 but even deducting that season from his overall stats he still has a solid over ratio (62%).
A lot of Rogers penalty metrics don’t necessarily justify games going Over at this rate. It’s a small sample size (43 games) and doesn’t seem sustainable, but is still is somewhat irrelevant. The stats are what they are to this point.
- 30-13 Over (70%) in 43 career games
- 13-3 Over (82%) in Division match-ups
- 11-1 Over in 2020 NFL season
- 10-6 Over (63%) in 2021 NFL season & 4-1 Over (80%) in Division games in 2021
Ron Torbert: Referee Penalty Trends & How it may impact betting
Torbert is a solid referee who officiated the Rams 23-20 victory in SB LVI. Torbert was criticized for calls that assisted the LA Rams in their game winning TD drive in SB LVI.
In the brief Sean McVay era in Los Angeles, Torbert is the referee they have played the most games with and also have the best winning percentage with. The Rams are 7-1 with Ron Torbert in 8 games.
More a “let em play” type referee, Torbert has also morphed into a very good Under referee the past two seasons.
- Since 2016 home teams with Torbert are 56-42 SU (58%) however just 38-59-1 ATS (39%)
- Home underdogs with Torbert since 2016 are just 10-25 ATS (29%) including a 3-5 record in the 2021 NFL season
- In the 2020/2021 NFL seasons games officiated with Ron Torbert are 25-10 Under (71%)
- Torbert called the 2nd fewest penalties in 2021
Shawn Smith: Referee Penalty Trends & How it may impact betting
Shawn Smith is another new referee with only 4 seasons in the NFL. Smith is solid and not intimidated by home crowds as evidenced by his ATS numbers.
Smith’s officiating style also gives the offense a chance to make plays and perhaps get assistance via a pass interference call to extend drives. This has resulted in a solid Over record.
Smith, like other newer refs, only has a small sample size of available data. However, we can only go on numbers and the numbers don’t lie:
- Home teams 26-36-2 ATS (41%)
- In Division match-ups home teams are 7-17 ATS (28%)
- 35-28-1 Over (56%) in 4 years as head referee
- 19-13-1 Over (60%) in 2020/2021 NFL seasons
- Smith tied for fewest offensive holding penalties in 2021
- Smith called 4th fewest offensive holding penalties in 2020
- In the 2020/2021 Shawn Smith called the 4th & 5th most defensive pass interference penalties
Carl Cheffers: Referee Penalty Trends & how it may impact betting
Carl Cheffers a veteran referee who calls a lot of penalties. Cheffers consistently ranks in the top 5 per season for penalties.
A Cheffers officiated game will exceed NFL average in penalties more often than not. The takeaway from his long term trends are that when the dust has settled the home team wins well above the NFL average.
- Cheffers consistently ranks in the top 5 every season for overall penalties
- Led NFL in 2021 with 14 penalties per game for 124 yds per game
- Home teams 58-39-1 SU (60%) since 2016
- Home teams 48-49-1 ATS since 2016
- 3rd most offensive holding penalties in 2021
- Most unnecessary roughness penalties in 2021
- 2nd most defensive pass interference penalties in 2021
- Led the NFL in calling offensive pass interference in 2021
Clay Martin: Referee Penalty Trends & how they may impact betting
Martin another newer referee with a 4 season sample size (58 games). Limited sample size to this point but based on Clay Martin’s career stats he’s not swayed by home crowds.
- Martin above average calling defensive pass interference & defensive holding in 2021
- Below NFL average calling unnecessary roughness & roughing the passer penalties in 2021
- Home teams are 29-29 SU in Clay Martin’s 58 game career
- Home teams are 23-34-1 ATS (40%)
Scott Novak: Referee Penalty Trends & how they may impact betting
The jury remains out on Novak. In his first two seasons as a head referee Novak was the epitome of a “let em play” referee. He called the fewest penalties per game in his debut 2019 season and the 5th fewest in 2020.
That changed in 2021 when Novak’s penalties increased significantly to #3 overall in the NFL.
A number of games officiated by Novak in 2021 were abysmal. Sloppy officiating and simply over officiating. Way too many ticky-tack penalties.
Our guess? Novak will reverts back to a “let ‘em play” style in 2022 but only time will tell.
Home teams have struggled with Novak officiating in his brief 47 game career
- Novak led the NFL in false start penalties in 2021
- Noval 3rd most offensive holding calls in 2021
- Tied for 2nd most offsides penalties & had 2nd most unnecessary roughness calls in 2021
- Fifth most roughing the passer penalties in 2021
- Totals with Novak in his 47 game career are 23-23-1
- Home teams are 18-28-1 SU (39%) with Scott Novak
- Home teams 17-28-2 (37%) with Novak
Clete Blakeman: Referee Penalty Trends & how they may impact betting
Clete Blakeman is a veteran ref who calls it down the middle. Need proof? Since 2016 home teams with Blakeman officiating are exactly .500.
That said, Blakeman’s crew has had its share of bad calls that generated a lot of criticism, notably the “no-call” on a clear defensive pass interference from Carolina vs New England in a MNF showdown in 2013 as time expired.
Another MNF debacle with Blakeman was Week 6, 2019 where his crew made questionable calls late that greatly benefited Green Bay in a dramatic 23-22 Packers win over the Lions.
- Home teams 49-49 SU with Blakeman the past 6 seasons
- Totals are 48-50 since 2016 with Blakeman
- Blakeman had the most offensive holding calls in 2021 NFL season
- Blakeman was in upper tier of NFL calling roughing the passer & unnecessary roughness penalties in 2021
- Pittsburgh Steelers are 4-10 SU & 4-9-1 ATS in past decade with Blakeman officiating, including 0-2 in 2021
Craig Wrolstad: Referee Penalty Trends & how they may impact betting
Craig Wrolstad from a straight-up and totals standpoint is almost a .500 referee.
Where Wrolstad stands out is the home team ATS and the poor record they have when he officiates. And of the veteran refs, only Ron Torbert has a worse home dog ATS record than Craig Wrolstad.
Wrolstad has traditionally trended in the lower half of overall penalties. He was #2 in roughing the passer penalties in 2021 but that was an aberration from his normal stats.
- Home teams 46-47 SU since 2016
- Home teams 35-58 ATS (40%) with Wrolstad since 2016
- Home underdogs are 13-29 (31%) since 2016
- Wrolstad generally in the lower half of overall penalties per game in NFL