The third team on the field in every NFL game are the officials, and different groups have different tendencies.
With a rotating set of officiating crews, games are called differently and are unique every time two teams square off, and how referee's call contests can't be understated -- especially for bettors. There are some referee groups that call more penalties that can influence decision making from each team, and others that let players be more physical.
Here's a handy guide to get acquainted with each officiating crew for the four postseason games in the 2024 NFL Divisional Round.
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Texans vs. Ravens Referee Assignments
Head Referee: John Hussey
Hussey's crew has a common theme, home team and unders.
Since becoming a head ref, home teams are 81-58-3 against the spread (ATS) while unders are cashing at a high rate, 82-62-2, per The Action Network when Hussey's teams are manning the whistle. The difference in the two numbers are a handful of neutral site games, but it's clear that Hussey's crew does tend to shade towards a particular side.
Packers vs. 49ers Referee Assignments
Head Referee: Alex Kemp
Kemp's groups were quick to throw flags this season, particularly on the road team.
Kemp and his officials called the second most penalties in the NFL this season, 214 for 1,678 yards, per NFLpenalties.com, calling nearly two more per game on the visitors.
However, there wasn't a tangible impact on the spread over the course of the season. In fact, road teams were 9-7 ATS in 2023 with Kemp's crew in charge.
Buccaneers vs. Lions Referee Assignments
Head Referee: Bill Vinovich
Vinovich is an under machine as a referee. In games called by his group, the under has cashed at an astronomical rate, going 100-67-1, including officiating an under in seven of his last eight playoff games.
While there's no glaring trend as to why, Vinovich doesn't call an alarmingly amount of penalties in either direction, Vinovich unders have been a cash cow for years.
Chiefs vs. Bills Referee Assignments
Head Referee: Shawn Hochuli
Hochuli is an under referee, the game has gone under at a 57% clip in games led by him, 52-39-3.
Further, road teams are 51-40-3 ATS in Hochuli officiated games, including 3-1 in the postseason as the Chiefs travel to Western New York to face the Buffalo Bills.
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.