NFL still headed for a lot more penalties this season

Some things are a given: death, taxes and surprises in Week 1 of the NFL season. And as the league’s 95th campaign got fully underway Sunday, we were again treated to unforeseen endings. But isn’t that why we love the NFL so much?

The Bills shocked the Bears in Chicago, the Dolphins upset the Patriots and the Bengals defeated the Ravens in Baltimore.

What might have been a bigger surprise, to some, was the lack of point-of-emphasis fouls called through the first 13 games of Week 1 compared to what took place during the preseason.

With the NFL placing an emphasis on officials calling illegal contact, defensive holding and illegal hands to the face this season, we saw a record number of penalties called during the preseason.

Some thought there would be a lot fewer calls made once the regular season started. However, if you look at the calls through the first 13 games of Week 1, there was still a bunch.

*There were 12 illegal contact calls made.

*There were 17 defensive holding penalties called

*There were 14 illegal hands to the face fouls called.

Let’s look at the numbers from the 2013 NFL season. In the 256 regular-season games, there were only 52 illegal contact calls made, 226 defensive holding penalties and 103 illegal use of hands fouls called.

Granted, it’s only 13 games so far, but if you extrapolate the numbers out for an entire season based on this, they are pretty staggering compared to last season.




Illegal contact



Defensive holding



Illegal use of hands



*If calls keep on the same pace

It’s just about what I expected. There was a similar type of uptick in calls like this during the 2004 season, when illegal contact and defensive holding calls were first emphasized.

So, expect more penalties. We’ll just have to get used to. Last season, there was an average of 14.1 penalties called per game. At the current pace, it would add about three more penalties per game.

Like or not, we’ll have to live with it.

But it’s still the NFL, folks. What’s not to love?