It’s that time of year, again. One more win to get to the Super Bowl, and everyone is dissecting everything about the upcoming games and trying to figure who has the edge. Will the field conditions in Chicago play into the outcome? How about the weather? What role will injuries play? And, yes, how about the officiating crews?
Well, I can’t really offer anything to help with field conditions, weather or injuries, but I can set the record straight about the officiating.
There is hysteria brewing in Green Bay because Terry McAulay has been announced as the referee in Chicago on Sunday. Terry and his crew worked the Packers-Bears game in Week 3 of the regular season. Incredibly, the Packers were penalized 18 times for 152 yards. The Packers were called for 12 different fouls from false starts to Illegal forward passes with practically everything in between.
Will there be a repeat of that this Sunday?
No! I will say it 100 times, no!
To begin with, this is not Terry McAulay’s crew.
From this point on in the playoffs, the crews are made up of the top three officials at each position.
McAulay is the only one from his crew that was involved in that game way back in Week 3. That game won’t even be discussed. The NFC Championship Game crew will look at video of each team’s games last week and they will discuss formations and coverages. They will also spend a lot of time discussing mechanics and positioning, as these seven guys will be working together for the first time this season.
There is not a thing to be learned from the game back in Week 3, and that includes any possible tendencies the Packers or the Bears could cull from this group of officials. Teams do study officiating crews, but when it comes to all-star crews there is nothing to be gained.
In preparation for regular-season games, teams keep weekly statistics on how many holding calls, pass interference calls, illegal contact calls, etc., each crew makes. They use that in preparation for their game. If a crew that is working their next game calls a lot of holding penalties, teams will work with their offensive linemen and tell them they have to keep their hands in. Same thing with illegal contact and defensive pass interference calls. If a crew has made a lot, they will alert their defensive backs.
When it comes to all-star crews, however, forget it. You don’t have that detailed information on each official and, even if you did, there is no way to judge how he will perform with a completely different crew. I am sure this is frustrating to the teams as they always try to prepare for everything.
So, let it go Packers fans. Week 3 will have zero effect on the game Sunday.