The Duel

NFL Refs Have Made Two Big Changes to Way They're Calling Games This Year

Max Staley
NFL referees have made one huge change to officiating in 2020.
NFL referees have made one huge change to officiating in 2020. / Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
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Scoring is up in the NFL this season. Through three weeks, teams are averaging record highs in both points and yards per game. It's not just due to the modernization of the league either, as teams are currently averaging 5.4 more points per game than they did last year.

Poor defensive play due to a lack of offseason practice time has had a lot to do with this offensive boon, but that doesn't tell the whole story. In fact, one key change in officiating seems to have significantly contributed to the recent uptick in scoring.

Three weeks is a small sample size, but there are currently 1.68 fewer penalties being called per game than there were last year. One of the most notable differences can be seen in how offensive holding has been officiated. On average, we're seeing .94 fewer holding calls per game than we saw last year. That's a significant difference, as holding calls are notorious for being drive-killing penalties.

Additionally benefiting the offense, defensive pass interference calls are way up. We're seeing 1.44 DPIs called per game – up from 1.06 in 2019, 0.92 in 2018, 1.04 in 2017 and 1.08 in 2016.

Through three weeks, the numbers show that the game is being officiated differently. And that change has clearly benefitted offenses thus far.

If this keeps up, over bettors and fantasy managers could be in for a great 2020 season.


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Max Staley is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Max Staley also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mstaley1212. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

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