Referee Trends Bettors Need to Know for Super Bowl 53

Referee Trends Bettors Need to Know for Super Bowl 53 article feature image

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: NFL referee John Parry

  • John Parry will lead the crew officiating Super Bowl 53.
  • Using Bet Labs, we analyze against-the-spread and over/under trends for games in which Parry has been the referee.

While it may not be the first question you ask yourself before betting on Super Bowl 53, one factor to consider is the officiating. The guys with the whistles are expected to be impartial, but they do have tendencies that bettors can exploit.

The head official for Super Bowl 53 between the Patriots and Rams (6:30 p.m. ET, CBS) will be John Parry.

Using the Bet Labs database, we highlight some interesting trends for Parry’s games. Plus, we look at why both the Patriots’ and Rams’ fanbases may not be excited to see Parry in the white hat, and even analyze some referee prop bets.

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

John Parry Betting Trends

  • Favorites: 85-80-4 (51.5%) against the spread (ATS)
  • Home Teams: 82-81-4 ATS (50.3%)
  • Overs: 92-75-2 (55.1%)
  • Patriots: 7-6 ATS
  • Rams: 7-0 ATS

In games that Parry has overseen, the over is 92-75-2 (55.1%) since 2003. The Patriots-Rams over/under is 56.5, but in high-total games (45 or more points) that Parry is wearing the striped shirt, it has still been profitable to bet the over: 44-31 (58.7%).

Why have overs been money in Parry’s games? It’s hard to say, but one explanation could be penalties. Perhaps he throws more flags, which would extend drives and lead to more scoring.

However, according to Pro Football Reference, there have been an average of 12.5 penalties in games that Parry has officiated. Over that same span, the league average per game is 12.6, so there isn’t any more laundry on the field when Parry is the official than you’d expect with the average referee.

In general, overs have been profitable in eight of the 11 seasons he has been a head referee, which might better explain the trend. Currently, 53% of tickets are on the over in the Super Bowl.

Why Patriots fans don’t want to see Parry:

Parry was the referee for Super Bowl 46 between the Patriots and New York Giants. His crew called Tom Brady for intentional grounding on the team’s first offensive play, leading to a safety. Needless to say, that was a bad omen as New England would go on to lose for a second time to Eli Manning.

Why Rams fans don’t want to see Parry:

Two weeks ago, it was Bill Vinovich who served as the head official in the NFC Championship Game, and Rams fans were not psyched to see him. In fact, they were so unhappy that they started a petition to have him removed. LA had been 0-5 both straight up (SU) and ATS with Vinovich on the field.

Lucky for them, Vinovich wasn’t removed and his crew missed an obvious pass interference call that helped propel the Rams to the Super Bowl.

This week, I doubt there will be any pleas from Rams fans to have Parry’s Super Bowl assignment stripped from him. Los Angeles is 7-0 SU and ATS when Parry is assigned to their games.

Of course, just as the trend with Vinovich reversed, Rams fans could be nervous the same will happen with Parry.

Prop Bets:

It’s the Super Bowl, so you can bet on anything, including penalties. Here are a few of the props available for wagering:

  • Total accepted penalties: over/under 12.5
  • First team to be penalized: NE +120, LA -140
  • Last team to be penalized: NE -105, LA -125
  • More penalty yards: NE +125, LA -155
  • First team to be penalized for pass interference: NE +100, LA -130
  • First team to be penalized for holding: NE +105, LA -135

Your first instinct when looking at these props might be to wager on the Rams, as there is a commonly held belief that the Patriots get all the calls. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell looked into this myth and showed that it was false.

In fact, there could be some value betting the props where New England is plus-money, such as “first team to be penalized” at +120.

Of these props, the one that’s catching my eye is the total accepted penalties. The over/under of 12.5 appears to be set based on the average flags thrown per game in Parry’s career (12.5).

The Patriots (ninth) and Rams (sixth) were two of the least penalized teams on a per game basis in 2018, and in total there were fewer than eight accepted penalties per game when these teams played. The under is currently -155.