Are NFL Referees Biased?

Penalties Per Game by Referee Crew 2010 by Home Away

The data shown in the graph above depicts the average penalties called per game against away teams versus home teams. Those referees who call more fouls against the away team have positive bars, and those who call more against home teams have negative bars.

Once that becomes clear, it’s easy to see which referees have bias for or against the home team. For example, our good friend and “strictest NFL ref” Ed Hochuli is also the umpire with the second-most against home teams. He calls, on average, 1.67 penalties more against the home team than the visiting. The crew led by Walt Anderson is even worse.

Meanwhile, referees like Gene Steratore, Terry McAuley, and Pete Morelli have the opposite bias: against the visiting team by over 1.5 calls a game. if the Eagles had two home games, the first refereed by Anderson’s crew and the second by Steratore’s, there would be a swing of almost four penalties, enough to halt a drive, call back a long run, or miss a blatant late hit…