The American Gaming Association (AGA) estimates that 23.2 million people in the United States will wager around 4.3 billion (!) dollars on Super Bowl LV. Whether you are seasoned sports handicapper or just football fanatic betting on your favorite team - or even wagering how many catches the player whose jersey you are wearing will have - you always know who you are betting on for Sunday's big game.
But what if I told you there is a third team you can bet on?
Yes, I'm talking about the all important officiating crew, also fondly known as "the refs." Now let me take a few moments to introduce to you these seven significant teammates who will be calling the biggest game of their life this coming Sunday, and also a little bit of breakdown and background of how they did this season officiating both the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Some overall notes here below first, before we dive into each official's overall role, responsIbilities and recent history of calls:
Overall combined records with members of this officiating crew:
- Kansas City Chiefs 7-1 SU, 2-6 ATS, 3-5 O/U
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4-3 SU, 5-2 ATS, 1-6 O/U
Officiating prop bets worth considering:
In breaking down how many penalties each official called against both Tampa Bay and Kansas City, we find that 59 flags flew against the Chiefs with an average of 8.4 flags per game, while the Buccaneers had 44 flags against them with an average of 5.5 per game. Given the numbers, there could be some value here:
- Tampa Bay +115
- Kansas City -155
"Total Accepted Penalties by Tampa Bay"
- Over/Under 4.5
- Over -134/ Under +101
"Total Accepted Penalties by Kansas City"
- Over/Under 5.5
- Over -115/ Under -115
One prop bet that I really like for Sunday is "Will there be a roughing the passer penalty?" with the "Yes" set at +130 and the "No" set at -162. Referee Carl Cheffers, who will break down in just a second, is the one responsible for this call, and he has indeed made this call 11 times in the 16 games he officiated this year.
Before diving into each member of the Super Bowl LV officiating crew below, I wanted to highlight the "Head Referee," Carl Cheffers, and especially, what he has done during the playoffs. Super Bowl LV will be Cheffers' 10th postseason career game as a referee, and the under has hit eight times compared to just one total over - Super Bowl 51, also known as "The 28-3 Tom Brady Comeback." And if we're honest with each other, this Super Bowl should have gone under too. Chaffers' most recent playoff game was with the Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens, a contest which went massively under with a final score of just 17-3.
Here is a brief rundown of Cheffers' NFL playoff history as an official:
-Jan 16th 2021: Ravens 3, Bills 17 (O/U 50, UNDER)
-Jan 5th 2020: Vikings 26, Saints 20 (O/U 50, UNDER)
-Jan 13th 2019: Eagles 14, Saints 20 (O/U 52, UNDER)
-Feb 5th 2017: Patriots 34, Falcons 28 (O/U 57.5, OVER)
-Jan 15th 2017: Steelers 18, Chiefs 16 (O/U 45, UNDER)
-Jan 4th 2015: Bengals 10, Colts 26 (O/U 47, UNDER)
-Jan 12 2014: 49ers 23, Panthers 10 (O/U 41.5, UNDER)
-Jan 8th 2012: Falcons 2, Giants 24 (O/U 47, UNDER)
-Jan 16th 2010: Ravens 3, Colts 20 (O/U 44, UNDER)
Cheffers was also one of the top "underdog referees" in the 2020 regular season, posting an 11-4 ATS record for the "Dogs." If you're looking for which way the officials might call this game, you can definitely hang your hat on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the under being the "refs side." Now, without further adieu, let's dive into each member of the Super Bowl LV officials crew, starting with Cheffers himself:
Head Referee Carl Cheffers #51
The "Referee" stands behind the offense and looks over to the quarterback's throwing side. The Referee in a given crew is responsible for watching the quarterback on passing plays and the running back on running plays. Roughing the passer, or whether a quarterback fumbles on an attempt to pass, is the Referee's responsibility to call. The Referee also decides the spot of the ball, as well as when the play clock and game clock should both stop and start, and is also responsible for all official signals, explanations and announcements to the players, coaches and crowd. Referees also review all challenged plays in a game.
Carl Cheffers has been an official in the NFL for 21 years. This is his second Super Bowl appearance (first since the Patriots/Falcons) that he has been a part of as head referee. Cheffers has refereed two Chiefs game this season, going back to Week 2 versus the Los Angeles Chargers and Week 8 versus the Las Vegas Raiders. In both of these games Cheffers crew threw a season high 11 and 10 flags on the Chiefs, respectively. KC went 2-0 SU, 0-2 ATS, and O/U 1-1. Cheffers did not referee a Bucs game this season.
Umpire Fred Bryan #11
The "Umpire" is responsible for spotting and assessing line play penalties like holding, illegal blocks, illegal contact, illegal hands to the face, etc. They also count the number of offensive players on the field.
Fred Bryan has been an NFL official for 12 years, and this will be his second Super Bowl appearance (first since Patriots/Rams). Bryan has umpired two Kansas City Chiefs game this season: Week 1 versus the Houston Texans and Week 5 versus the Las Vegas Raiders. During the game versus the Texans, only five penalties were called against the Chiefs but a season high 10 flags flew against Kansas City versus Las Vegas. KC went 1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS, and 1-1 O/U. Bryan did not umpire a game for the Bucs this season.
Line Judge Rusty Baynes #59
The "Line Judge" stands on the home sideline, looks down the line of scrimmage and watches for pre-snap, neutral zone and alignment penalties. The Line Judge assumes responsibility for plays that happen on or near his or her sideline within five to seven yards of the line of scrimmage. The Line Judge is also responsible for keeping the manual game time. In the NFL, the official time is literally whatever the scoreboard says it is, but the line judge must also keep time manually and inform the Referee of discrepancies, as well as serve as a backup in case the scoreboard fails or a correction must be made.
Rusty Baynes has been an official in the NFL for 11 years. This will also be his second Super Bowl appearance (first since Broncos/Panthers). Rusty was a Line Judge for three Buccaneers games and one Chiefs game this season. The Buccaneers' three games were versus the Saints in Week 1 where nine penalties were called against Tampa Bay; Week 6 versus the Packers where ZERO penalties went against the Bucs; and Week 8 versus the Giants, where another low total of three penalties were called against the Bucs. Tampa Bay went 2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS, 2-1 O/U with Baynes officiating. Kansas City's lone game that was judged by Baynes had five penalties against the Chiefs, and they went 1-0 SU, 0-1 ATS, 0-1 O/U.
Side Judge Eugene Hall #103
The "Side Judge" lines up and watches the visitors' side of the field, starting each play 20 yards down the field around where a safety lines up. They are primarily ruling on the results of plays downfield such as pass completions and potential fouls like pass interference and defensive holding. They are also responsible for spotting the ball in or out of bounds and whistling plays dead. On field goal attempts, the Side Judge acts as a second Umpire and lines up parallel with the main Umpire on the officiating crew.
Eugene Hall has been an NFL official for seven years. He worked Super Bowl 53 (Rams/Patriots) as the Side Judge and was also the Side Judge for two Tampa Bay Buccaneers games and one Kansas City Chiefs game this year. Eugene worked Buccaneers versus Giants in Week 8, where three penalties were called against the Bucs, and also for the NFC Divisional round game versus the Saints. Tampa Bay went 2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS, 1-1 O/U with Hall. The Buccaneers were called for seven flags in that game. The lone Chiefs game officiated was against the Broncos in Week 13 where five flags were thrown against the Chiefs.
Field Judge James Coleman #95
The "Field Judge" stands on the same side as the Line Judge, but 20 yards deep instead of on the line of scrimmage. The Field Judge counts all defensive players at the time of the snap in order to check for too many men on the field, as well as watches all the eligible receivers on his or her her side of the field, ruling on catches as complete or incomplete, calling down the field penalties, and spotting the ball in bounds or out of bounds. The Field Judge also watches field goal attempts and rules if they are good or not good.
James Coleman will be working the first Super Bowl of his career on Sunday. He has officiated one Kansas City game this season, coming in Week 4 versus the Bills. In this contest the Chiefs had eight penalties called against them. Kansas City went 1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS, 0-1 O/U. Coleman did not officiate a Bucs game.
Back Judge Dino Paganelli #105
The "Back Judge" has a primary responsibility to watch over all kicks from scrimmage, including putting his or her arms up for successful field goal tries during a game. They are responsible for calling teams back after any type of break or media time out, as well as pulling teams back into play after each quarter and after halftime. During play, he or she is lined up behind the furthest safety/defensive back on the field.
Dino Paganelli has 15 years under his belt as an NFL official and has worked one previous Super Bowl (49ers/Ravens) as a Back Judge. Dino has officiated only one game this season for Tampa Bay, which came in the Divisional round of the playoffs versus the Saints, where seven penalty flags were thrown against the Bucs. Tampa Bay went 1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS, 0-1 O/U with Paganelli, and he didn't officiate a Chiefs game.
Down Judge Sarah Thomas #53
Also called the "Head Linesman," the "Down Judge" stands on the visitors side of the line of scrimmage and primarily watches for offsides, false starts and encroachment, as well as neutral zone infractions and pre-snap penalties. After the snap, the Down Judge watches the play nearest to them. The Down Judge is also responsible for managing and coordinating the chain gang and carries a chain clamp that anchors one end of the first down chains during a measurement. It's the Down Judge's job to make sure that the chain is properly spotted/anchored during a measurement. We have some Down Judge history this year as well.
Sarah Thomas is the first woman to officiate a Super Bowl in NFL history. She has six years experience and four total years as a Down Judge. Sarah Thomas has officiated two Tampa Bay Buccaneers games and one Kansas City Chiefs game. One of the Bucs games she officiated was the Week 12 matchup between Tampa Bay and Kansas City, and this was a high penalty game, with 10 flags being thrown against the Chiefs and eight against the Buccaneers. The only other game Sarah officiated for Tampa Bay was the NFC Divisional round versus the Saints, where seven flags flew this day. against the Bucs. Tampa Bay went 1-1 SU, 2-0 ATS, and 1-1 O/U with Thomas as the Down Judge. Kansas City went 1-0 SU, 0-1 ATS, 0-2 O/U.