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NFL Referee Assignments, Betting Trends for the Divisional Round


James Gilbert/Getty Images. Pictured: referee Walt Anderson #66

  • Walt Anderson, Bill Vinovich, Shawn Hochuli and Clete Blakeman will lead the four crews officiating the Divisional Round games.
  • Using Bet Labs, we share against-the-spread and over/under trends to know for each referee.

Officiating assignments for the Divisional Round are set. Walt Anderson, Bill Vinovich, Shawn Hochuli and Clete Blakeman will lead the four crews officiating the games this weekend.

Referees by definition are impartial, but they do have tendencies that bettors can exploit. Using the Bet Labs database, we highlight interesting trends for each ref officiating the second round of the playoffs.

Of course, placing a wager based solely on the past results of the referee officiating the game would be unwise. This is just one more piece of information to make you a more informed gambler.

Note: Records include regular season and playoff games since 2003.

Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers (-7)

Saturday, 4:35 p.m. ET | NBC

Head referee: Walt Anderson

  • Favorites: 89-87-9 (50.6%, -1.27 units)
  • Home Teams: 91-82-9 (52.6%, +4.76 units)
  • Overs: 91-93-1 (49.5%, -5.82 units)
  • Vikings: 6-5-1 ATS
  • 49ers: 3-6-2 ATS

Walt Anderson’s crew called 284 penalties in 2019 — most in the NFL. That included 37 penalties for pass interference. Flags lead to first downs, which extend drives and promote a high-scoring environment.

This season, Anderson’s crew was tied for the best over record at 10-6 (63%), but the 49ers-Vikings total has decreased from 46 to 44.5. If Anderson is flag-happy on Saturday, the penalty yards could be enough to help the over hit.

Tennessee Titans at Baltimore Ravens (-10)

Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET | CBS

Head referee: Bill Vinovich

  • Favorites: 45-53-3 (45.9%, -9.55 units)
  • Home Teams: 43-54-3 (44.3%, -13.06 units)
  • Overs: 43-57-1 (43.0%, -15.76 units)
  • Titans: 2-2-1 ATS
  • Ravens: 3-1 ATS

In games that Bill Vinovich has overseen, the under is 57-43-1 (57%) including 30-18 (63%) in the past three seasons.

According to Pro Football Reference, there have been 17.8% fewer penalty yards compared to the average official when Vinovich has been in charge the past three seasons. Fewer penalty yards likely lead to fewer first downs and thus less scoring.

Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs (-10)

Sunday, 3:05 p.m. ET, CBS

Head referee: Shawn Hochuli

  • Favorites: 15-13-1 (53.6%, +1.34 units)
  • Home Teams: 12-16-1 (42.9%, -4.40 units)
  • Overs: 12-16-1 (42.9%, -4.35 units)
  • Texans: 1-0 ATS
  • Chiefs: 1-2 ATS

Chiefs-Texans is a rematch from Week 6, a game Houston won, 31-24. KC fans will probably remember this game for a pass interference call that was reversed.

With the Chiefs leading, 17-9, and Kansas City with possession at the Houston 32, Patrick Mahomes threw an interception in the end zone. But the pick was going to be wiped off the board as Texans defensive back Lonnie Johnson Jr. was called for pass interference after essentially tackling Travis Kelce to the ground.

Just before Kansas City lined up with the ball and a fresh set of the downs the officials huddled, and overturned the call, citing an uncatchable ball. The controversy stemmed from the decision but also the fact that no replay had been authorized.

Houston would score to make the game 17-16. Had the pass interference call stood Kansas City could have potentially scored to make it 24-9.

Why is this important? The official in that game was Shawn Hochuli, the same referee that will be calling Sunday’s Divisional Round game. Superstitious Chiefs fans can’t be pleased with the referee assignment.

Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers (-4)

Sunday, 6:40 p.m. ET | FOX

Head referee: Clete Blakeman

  • Favorites: 70-82-5 (46.1%, -14.61 units)
  • Home Teams: 71-78-5 (47.7%, -9.79 units)
  • Overs: 72-83-2 (46.5%, -14.01 units)
  • Seahawks: 5-5 ATS
  • Packers: 6-4 ATS

More than 60% of spread tickets are on the Seahawks as 4-point underdogs. Popular underdogs (teams getting more than 50% of bets) have gone 41-33-1 (55%) ATS in the playoffs.

In postseason games that Blakeman has officiated, underdogs have gone 7-1 ATS.

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