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What NFL Bettors Need to Know About Conference Title Refs

What NFL Bettors Need to Know About Conference Title Refs article feature image

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Officiating assignments for the conference championships are set. Clete Blakeman will lead the Patriots-Jaguars crew and Ed Hochuli will oversee Vikings-Eagles. Referees by definition are impartial but are there tendencies that bettors can exploit?

Note: Placing a wager based solely on the past results of the referee officiating the game is a donkey move. This is just one more piece of information to make you a more informed gambler. Also, records include regular season and playoff games since 2003.

Clete Blakeman: New England Patriots (-8.5) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Favorites: 60-60-4 ATS (50.0%, -2.52 units)
  • Home Teams: 58-60-4 (49.2%, -4.18 units)
  • Overs: 61-61-2 (50.0%, -2.58 units)
  • Patriots: 2-4 ATS
  • Jaguars: 5-2 ATS

Blakeman is the league’s ideal official, favorites, home teams and overs have all hit at a 50.0% rate. Bettors will struggle to find an edge.

Can a ref be a bad omen for a team? Patriots fans probably remember Blakeman from a non-call he made back in 2013 during a 24-20 loss against the Panthers. Blakeman reversed a pass interference call against Rob Gronkowski in the final seconds of the game. Had the penalty stood, the Patriots would have had one more play from the Carolina one-yard line.

Additionally, Dyrol Prioleau will be the side judge on Sunday. He was one of the refs that measured the air pressure of the footballs at halftime during the infamous Patriots-Colts AFC title game that started Deflategate.

Ed Hochuli: Minnesota Vikings (-3) at Philadelphia Eagles

  • Favorites: 66-90-4 (42.3%, -27.29 units)
  • Home Teams: 72-82-4 (46.8%, -13.15 units)
  • Overs: 76-82-2 (48.1%, -9.14 units)
  • Vikings: 10-3 ATS
  • Eagles: 6-4 ATS

Hochuli is an underdog bettor’s best friend as favorites are 66-90-4 (42.3%) ATS when he is the crew chief. This is Ed’s second playoff game this postseason. He was on the field for Rams-Falcons in the Wild Card round, a game that Atlanta won and covered as 6.5-point underdogs. Why have dogs performed so well when Hochuli has the whistle? The longtime referee has called penalties on the home team 54.7% of the time in 2017, while the league average is 47.8%. Home teams are often favored, meaning the extra penalties might be enough to keep underdogs in the game.

Photo via Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

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