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NFL Referee Assignments, Betting Trends for Wild Card Weekend

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Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: NFL referee Tony Corrente #99

  • Tony Corrente, John Hussey, Carl Cheffers and Shawn Smith will lead the four crews officiating the Wild Card games.
  • Using Bet Labs, we share against-the-spread and over/under trends to know for each referee.

In preparation for Wild Card Weekend you’ve analyzed the lines, evaluated the teams on the field, adjusted for injuries and considered the impact weather may have on the games.

At any point, did you stop to think about the refs? You know, the guys with the whistle.

Tony Corrente, John Hussey, Carl Cheffers and Shawn Smith will lead the four crews officiating the Wild Card games.

Referees are expected to be impartial but there are tendencies that bettors can exploit. Of course, 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.

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

Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans (-3)

Saturday, 4:35 p.m. ET | ESPN/ABC

Head referee: Tony Corrente

  • Favorites: 83-97-5 ATS (46.1%, -16.75 units)
  • Home Teams: 91-85-5 ATS (51.7%, +2.95 units)
  • Overs: 80-101-4 (44.2%, -23.92 units)
  • Bills: 5-2 ATS
  • Eagles: 7-9 ATS

The Bills-Texans total opened at 42. More than 60% of tickets are on the over moving the total to 42.5. History suggests bettors will be disappointed as Corrente is the most profitable under official in our database going 101-80-4 (55.8%).

The Action Network simulations project the teams to combine for 37.6 points on average.

Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots (-4.5)

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

Head referee: John Hussey

  • Favorites: 39-37-2 ATS (51.3%, -0.33 units)
  • Home Teams: 41-33-2 ATS (55.4%, +5.78 units)
  • Overs: 33-44-1 (42.9%, -12.24 units)
  • Titans: 4-2-1 ATS
  • Patriots: 1-1-1 ATS

The under is 44-33-1 (57.1%) in games that Hussey has officiated since 2015. One reason that it has been profitable to bet the under when Hussey refs is because he doesn’t throw as many flags.

According to Pro Football Reference, when Hussey is in charge he has called fewer penalties per game than the league average in four of his five seasons wearing the white hat. Fewer penalty yards likely leads to fewer first downs and thus, less scoring.

Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints (-8)

Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET | FOX

Head referee: Carl Cheffers

  • Favorites: 87-95-3 ATS (47.8%, -11.52 units)
  • Home Teams: 86-94-3 ATS (47.8%, -11.47 units)
  • Overs: 94-88-3 (51.5%, +1.95 units)
  • Saints: 10-4 ATS
  • Vikings: 4-4 ATS

It’s a small sample, but the Saints are 13-1 straight up and 10-4 against the spread when Cheffers calls their games. I wouldn’t get too excited about this trend if you are betting New Orleans, it is not like Cheffers is showing blatant favoritism for Drew Brees & Co.

In 14 games with Cheffers, the Saints have committed 109 penalties for 1,023 penalty yards (73.1 per game). New Orleans’ opponents have been flagged 101 times for 812 yards or just 58.0 per game. If the Saints continue accumulating more penalty yards than their opponents with Cheffers as the ref their straight-up and ATS records are bound to regress.

Seattle Seahawks (-1.5) at Philadelphia Eagles

Sunday, 4:40 p.m. ET | NBC

Head referee: Shawn Smith

  • Favorites: 13-14-2 ATS (48.1%, -1.12 units)
  • Home Teams: 11-16-2 ATS (40.7%, -5.38 units)
  • Overs: 16-13 (55.2%, +2.33 units)
  • Seahawks: 2-0 ATS
  • Eagles: 1-0 ATS

Shawn Smith is in just his fifth season as an official and just his second as the head honcho. There isn’t much to gleam from his past results but something to monitor is overs in games he calls.

In each season as an official, there have been more penalty yards per game relative to league average. Last year, for example, he called 21.83 more penalty yards (19.2% more) than the average referee. Penalties extend drives, which can create a positive scoring environment.

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