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), but a different official who leans heavily on calling pass interference will compound that weakness the next week.

Same team. Different outcomes.

Throughout this 2023 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.

Sharp Football Analysis has every angle of Chiefs vs. 49ers covered in our Super Bowl 58 Hub.

NFL Referee Assignment for Super Bowl 58

Super Bowl 58Referee
49ers vs. ChiefsBill Vinovich

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Bill Vinovich’s Impact on Chiefs vs. 49ers in Super Bowl 58

The Chiefs and 49ers meet in Super Bowl 58. The game will officiated by Bill Vinovich, his third Super Bowl as a head referee.

Bill Vnovich was in charge of proceedings in the Chiefs’ 31-20 victory over the 49ers in Super Bowl 54 to conclude the 2019 NFL season. This game marks the first time the same referee has officiated a Super Bowl rematch.

Vinovich is the epitome of a “let ‘em play” referee, especially in postseason games.

We have detailed the decline in offensive holding penalties throughout these playoffs versus regular season averages. Expect that to continue in Super Bowl 58.

San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa brought the issue to the media’s and hopefully the officiating crew’s attention in the lead-up to the big game.

The Chiefs have been the number one beneficiary of the reduction in offensive holding in the playoffs. It would be an ideal scenario for the 49ers to see more offensive holding calls in Super Bowl 58, but that is unlikely.

The all-star officiating crew is a topic of conversation when assessing the Super Bowl. How can we preview a game if the referee in charge doesn’t have the entirety of his regular season crew on the field?

It’s a valid point, and we did an in-depth look at this last week.

If there is one surefire playoff trend, regardless of the crew makeup and the head referee, it’s the emphasis on reducing overall penalties.

Look for the Vinovich-led crew in Super Bowl 58 to follow that script.

Now, let’s assess the strengths and weaknesses of the teams in the Super Bowl from a penalty perspective and how the officiating of the Bill Vinovich-led crew will potentially impact these games

Penalty Tendencies:

  • Since Bill Vinovich’s first Super Bowl as a head referee between the Patriots and Seahawks in 2015, his games are averaging 9.5 penalties for 78.4 yards. Keep these numbers in mind for any penalty props that may be available for this Super Bowl
  • The Chiefs overall offense and offensive line issues were well-documented throughout the 2023 season. The penalty issues for the Kansas City offense have seen a sharp decline in their playoff run
  • The Chiefs averaged 5.3 penalties per game in the 2023 regular season, with 63% committed by their offense. That averages out to around 3.5 offensive penalties per game
  • The Chiefs are averaging just 2.6 penalties per game on their current playoff run, with the offense responsible for 70% of penalties. That amounts to around 1.8 offensive penalties per game, a significant drop from the regular season average. Since the drop in offensive penalties is primarily via offensive holding, it’s a huge boon to a Kansas City offense that struggled at times in 2023
  • The decline in offensive holding is standard operating procedure every season in the playoffs. The NFL wants an aesthetically pleasing product in highly viewed postseason games. It just so happens Kansas City is the biggest beneficiary of this in 2023
  • The 49ers offense is responsible for just 46% of the team’s overall penalties in 2023, with their offensive line responsible for just 24% of the team’s overall penalties
  • The 49ers were a below-average penalized team for offensive holding in 2023
  • In their Super Bowl 54 matchup in 2020, there was one offensive holding penalty called by Vinovich’s crew. More notable in that game were the non-calls, particularly in situations involving the aforementioned Nick Bosa 
  • The 49ers and Chiefs defensive units are the two least impactful at generating offensive holding penalties on the opposing offenses in 2023, ranking 31st and 32nd respectively. In their five combined playoff games in the 2023-24 playoffs, these defenses have generated one accepted offensive holding penalty and have had one additional call declined
  • Vinovich ranks second for false start penalties per game
  • The 49ers and Chiefs share a common trait in penalties surrendered via passing plays. Defensive pass interference makes up the bulk of penalties surrendered in this category, with 61% of the Chiefs’ infractions and 58% of the 49ers’
  • The back judge in Super Bowl 58 is from the Land Clark crew. One of the more controversial no-calls in 2023 came in Chiefs at Vikings in Week 5. It was a late-game defensive pass interference by L’Jarius Sneed on Vikings wide receiver Jordan Addison. The flag was thrown by the side judge but picked up after a discussion with the back judge and head referee Land Clark.
  • The 49ers and Chiefs offenses are top five beneficiaries of defensive holding infractions
  • The Vinovich-led crew has members from the Clark, Shawn Hochuli, and Tra Blake crews. All three were above average calling defensive holding.
  • Vinovich is co-ranked number one for illegal use of hands penalties and second overall for illegal block in the back penalties in 2023. These are two categories the Chiefs are highly penalized in versus league average. These infractions are more likely to get called in Super Bowl 58 with the Vinovich and Hochuli crews heavily represented in this game
  • No referee has called fewer roughing the passer penalties than Vinovich since the start of the 2018 NFL season, averaging one approximately every seventh game officiated. This is far fewer than other referees over that same stretch. Across the board, the average is one roughing the passer penalty approximately every 2.5 games officiated. Keep these roughing the passer numbers in mind for penalty-specific prop bets in Super Bowl 58
  • In playoff games, Vinovich-led crews have called just one roughing the passer penalty in 14 contests officiated since the 2012 season. The inclusion of two Hochuli crew members is the only cause for concern about roughing the passer, as they led the NFL in this category. However, at the end of the day, Vinovich runs this outfit and his numbers override everything else.
  • Conversely, Vinovich-led crews in those 14 playoff games have called 13 unnecessary roughness penalties
  • Pre-snap penalties are to be avoided at all costs. The Chiefs were one of the best in the NFL this season, ranking 30th overall. It’s worth noting, four of the five teams with the fewest pre-snap penalties in 2023 made the playoffs

Bottom Line:

  • Vinovich-led crews are 60-39-2 (60%) to the under since the start of the 2018 NFL season, including 10-7 (60%) to the under in 2023
  • In playoff games dating back to 2012, Vinovich is 9-8 to the under. The Chiefs’ 31-20 victory in Super Bowl 54 stayed under the closing total of 52.5 points. We are dealing with a far lower number in this contest
  • A little-mentioned factor in the lead-up to this game is the new grass field surface at Allegiant Stadium. Last year’s surface in Arizona was a debacle, and it favored the offenses. From an in-game wagering perspective, the focus on offensive holding, or the probable lack thereof, is issue No. 1. The second piece to the puzzle is field conditions. Those two factors alone will impact the total as much as anything else

If the 49ers bring their “A” game, they can win Super Bowl 58. At their best, San Francisco looked near unbeatable in the 2023 season.

However, it’s been a while since we’ve seen that form, and frankly, they were fortunate to win their first two playoff games.

We thought the Ravens would be a tough out in the AFC Championship, but the moment proved to be too big for them.

The positive for the 49ers is that they have a loaded roster with high-IQ players who shouldn’t make the same discipline-related errors that contributed to the Ravens’ downfall. The team needs to play its best game from the get-go in Super Bowl 58.

Conversely, the Chiefs’ fast starts have had them largely control games during their playoff run. Its coaching staff and its core group of players provide them with an edge in this matchup. This is especially true at the quarterback position.

The bottom line is they won’t beat themselves, making the Kansas City Chiefs the play in this game and the winner of Super Bowl 58.

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Super Bowl 58 Referee Crew & Penalty Trend

Heading into the 2023 NFL playoffs, the three referees most likely to officiate the Super Bowl were Bill Vinovich, John Hussey, and Shawn Hochuli. It’s no surprise five of the seven Super Bowl officials are members are from these crews.

Two members apiece are from the Bill Vinovich and Shawn Hochuli crews.

The remaining three officials are from the John Hussey, Tra Blake, and Land Clark officiating crews.

These five crews represent 30% of all officiating crews in the NFL, which is a key number when detailing the following penalty categories.


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