Company 538 breaks down the NFL tendencies to call penalties

Company 538 breaks down the NFL tendencies to call penalties

January 24, 2017 3:00 AM


One drawback or advancement, depending on your vested interest in handicapping, is the remarkable advancement of big data. In pre-computer handicapping and line making we didn’t have this unending paper trail to digest.

So much of today’s projections, touts and fodder for announcers and journalists coming out of this data is the sports world’s version of junk science.

It’s crap.

The deeper we dig the more we find to analyze, thus the better our projections or the more we get thrown off by that junk science. A case in point that is still in its infancy, at least as far as we the public are concerned, is how much NFL officiating is biased to whatever/whoever. We see with our own eyes, every NFL game, calls and non-calls that infuriate us or we rejoice in. Good cop/bad cop, you get the idea.

There’s a study out by a very reputable statistical group on this very subject. The company is simply named 538. They do studies on all sorts of data and statistics and found the following in a preliminary study involving every play from the 2010 through the 2014 NFL seasons:

(1) Pass interference was called more often between the 32 yard lines on the side of the field closest to where the offensive team benches, players and coaches were located.

(2) Conversely offensive holding on running plays was called more often between the 32 yard lines closest to the benches of the team on defense.

As the ball moved closer to the end zone this no longer held up, in fact sometimes it reversed. The logical conclusion to this uncensored research is the players and coaches are restricted from going past the 32, they must stay between them. Makes preliminary sense.

Now let’s play devil’s advocate. The NFL home office wouldn’t admit to anything that casts a negative light on their pristine sport, unless of course they’re being sued for concussions and on the hook for multi-millions. What if a team or teams are also aware of these stats and adjust their play calling accordingly. Just saying.

(3) Another outcome of this report is the home field crowd influences calls less than the 32 yard line scenario.

Could be but I’m not endorsing this or any part of this study till it’s been vetted by others with just as much data and coming from different positions. What raises a red flag is what we all know as fact. The closer to the end zone the smaller the field the defense has to defend and they’re more apt to play with greater intensity.

Sorry, I know it’s hard enough to pick a winner without more wrenches thrown in the machinery.

Take care, and check out