Replacement refs and their impact on NFL betting
With no end in sight to the labor dispute between the NFL and its officials, commissioner Roger Goodell declared Wednesday that he’s fine with the concept of using replacement officials for preseason games. The replacement could make their debut at the Hall of Fame Game Sunday.
Goodell doesn't believe using officials with less experience will pose a safety risk to players.
"That's why we've been training them for the last two months and why they're on the field now, is to make sure they're prepared, they understand the rules," Goodell said during a stop at Green Bay's training camp this week.
Ray Anderson, NFL VP of Football Operations, ensured the public this week that a number of initiatives have been set forth to ensure player safety.
"We have rigorously evaluated our 136 officials and we feel very good about them going out and doing an incredible job," Anderson said. "We have spent a lot of time focusing and training them over the course of the last two months specifically in regard for the player-safety rules and being vigorous about those enforcements and we feel very confident that they will do a good job.”
When replacement officials worked games in 2001, Ed Hochuli, who has
been a NFL referee since 1990, said those officials threw roughly five
penalty flags per game. That is a significant difference from the 12-14
flags tossed by regular NFL officials last season.
So can football bettors expect a flag-throwing frenzy in the preseason or will the whistles collect dust? Will it give some teams an advantage over others? Influence pointspreads and totals?
Well, it’s tough to say.
The Oakland Raiders have been the most penalized team in the league the past two seasons. The black and silver averaged 10.2 penalties per game for 84.2 yards last season. The Detroit Lions amassed the second-highest average at a modest 67 penalty yards per game.
The "dirty" teams may have an advantage with retired college and arena league officials filling in. A player might be able to get away with an illegal hit or a hold in front of a replacement official that he would never avoid without a penalty flag being thrown by a seasoned veteran official.
It’s all speculation at this point, but bettors should be aware of line moves if replacement refs take the field.