NFL Conference Title Game Referees: Stats, Betting Trends For Officiating Crews

We'll see opposite ends of the officiating spectrum this week

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There are trips to Super Bowl LVI on the line this weekend, and unsurprisingly, two veteran referees will be calling the conference championship games.

Bill Vinovich gets the AFC Championship Game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday afternoon, while Carl Cheffers will head the crew for the NFC nightcap featuring the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams.

Vinovich, as FootballZebras.com points out, has officiated in seven of the last eight postseasons with assignments in either the conference title games or the Super Bowl. Cheffers, meanwhile, is a 22-year veteran who officiated Super Bowl LV (the second of his career) and will be overseeing the third conference championship of his career, per Football Zebras.

After a shaky wild-card round with no shortage of rules controversy, the officials largely stayed out of the way in what might have been the greatest divisional round we’ve ever seen. Here’s hoping we’re treated to a similar fate this Sunday.

Meanwhile, here’s what fans and bettors should know about Vinovich and Cheffers and how their respective crews called games this season. Betting stats via VSiN.com.

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP

Cincinnati Bengals at (-7) Kansas City Chiefs, 54.5
Head referee: Bill Vinovich

Penalties per game: 9.25 (17th out of 17)
Home team straight-up record: 9-7
Home team ATS record: 7-8-1
Over-under record: 6-10

Note: The favorite won outright in 13 of Vinovich’s 17 games this season, which was tied for the league’s most, but the favorite covered in just six of those games. Only four referees were more profitable for the underdog than Vinovich (one was Cheffers). He didn’t call a single roughing-the-passer penalty this season and called the fewest penalties per game in all but one season since 2017.

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP

San Francisco 49ers at (-3) Los Angeles Rams, 46
Head referee: Carl Cheffers

Penalties per game: 14.31 (first out of 17)
Home team straight-up record: 8-7
Home team ATS record: 5-10
Over-under record: 9-7

Note: No referee’s crew called more pass interference penalties this season. Cheffers’ crew also called the most holding penalties, which is no surprise given his ranking in overall penalties called.

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