By Ben Martinez & Chris Dell
Analysts have projected sports bettors could place upwards of $1 billion in wagers at legal online and online retail sportsbooks for Super Bowl LVI. This means wagers could double last year’s Super Bowl handle of more than $500 million if sportsbooks can reach the projected estimates. And whether you’re a seasoned handicapper or just a fanatic betting on your favorite team - how many catches the player whose jersey you are wearing will have - you pretty much know who you are betting on at this point.
But what if I told you there is a third team you can bet on?
Yes, I’m talking about the team wearing the black and white, also known as the officiating crew, the “refs.”
Let me introduce to you these significant seven teammates who will be calling the biggest game of their life this Sunday. We’ll also include a breakdown below of how each official did this season while officiating games for both the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals. We will use “ATS” to refer to “Against The Spread” records, “SU” to refer to straight up win/loss records and “O/U” to refer to records on the over/under respectively. First however, let’s take a look at some of the available bets/odds on the board that directly involve this officiating crew:
Some officiating Prop Odds For Super Bowl LVI: (These odds/lines below are fluid and changing daily, so please make sure to shop at various sportsbooks in order to find the best current number)
"Most Penalties" - Los Angeles (-105) / Cincinnati (-130)
"Total Official Penalties In The Game" - Over 9.5 (-125) / Under 9.5 (-115), *Also at 10.5 at Bet 365
"Total Accepted Penalty Yards In Game" - Over 79.5 (-120) / Under 79.5 (-110)
Referee Ron Torbert
1st Super Bowl
9 total postseason games refereed (3 wild card/ 6 divisional)
Favorites: 70-54-3 (ATS), 97-30 (SU)
Since 1987, in Super Bowls officiated by a first time head referee, the over has hit in just 11 out of 20, Favorites are also 19-13 SU. Ron Torbert this season has refereed games to a 9-8 ATS record in favor of the favorites, despite the historical 56.5% hit rate for those favored overall in his career. I do not believe there is a clear advantage either way with these specific numbers.
The Role For Head Referee Ron Torbert (#62): The referee stands behind the offense, looking over to the quarterback's throwing side. The referee is responsible for watching the quarterback on passing plays and the running back on running plays, as well as looking for roughing the passer penalties or whether a quarterback “fumbles a pass.” The referee also decides the spot of the ball, when the play clock and game clock should stop and start (the raise the roof motion), and is responsible for all official signals, explanations and announcements to the players, coaches and crowd. Referees also review all challenged plays.
Ron Torbert has been an official in the NFL for 11 years and will be officiating his first Super Bowl on Sunday. Torbert refereed 1 Rams game this season, coming in Week 5 versus the Seahawks. Tobert's crew threw 5 flags against the Rams for 85 yards, including 1 roughing the passer (Tobert’s call) and 3 flags on the Seahawks for 20 yards. Ron did not referee a Cincinnati game this season. The favorites LOVE Ron Tobert, as over the course of his career as head referee favorites are 70-54-3 against the spread (ATS) and 97-30 straight up (SU).
Last - but certainly not least - Ron Torbert has had one very interesting trend this season. As the head referee he’s been somewhat of an UNDER magnet. A total of 12 games have gone to the under out of 17, good for a 70.5% hit rate. Torbert's most recent officiated game was the 49ers/Packers playoff game, which went massively UNDER with a final score of 13-10 and a closing line of around 47.5. While the weather certainly played a factor in that game, here’s a look at how Torbert’s other games played out this year:
Ron Torbert’s 2021 NFL Season:
Week 1: Broncos 27, Giants 13 - O/U 41 (UNDER)
Week 2: Panthers 26, Saints 7 - O/U 44.5 (UNDER)
Week 3: Browns 26, Bears 6 - O/U 46 (UNDER)
Week 4: Bills 40, Texans 0 - O/U 47.5 (UNDER)
Week 5: Rams 26, Seahawks 17 - O/U 54 (UNDER)
Week 6: Raiders 34, Broncos 24 - O/U 45 (OVER)
Week 7: Packers 24, Football Team 10 - O/U 48 (UNDER)
Week 8: Patriots 27, Chargers 24 - O/U 50.5 (OVER)
Week 10: Dolphins 22, Ravens 10 - O/U 50.5 (UNDER)
Week 11: 49ers 30, Jaguars 10 - O/U 45.5 (UNDER)
Week 12: Giants 13, Eagles 7 - O/U 45 (UNDER)
Week 13: Colts 31, Texans 0 - O/U 45.5 (UNDER)
Week 14: Packers 45, Bears 30 - O/U 37.5 (OVER)
Week 15: Dolphins 31, Jets 24 - O/U 42 (OVER)
Week 16: Falcons 20, Lions 16 - O/U 42.5 (UNDER)
Week 18: Cowboys 51, Eagles 26 - O/U 33.5 (OVER)
Divisional Round: 49ers 13, Packers 10 - O/U 47.5 (UNDER)
Umpire Bryan Neale
1st Super Bowl
8 total postseason games as an official (4 wild card, 2 divisional, 2 conference championships)
The Role For Umpire Bryan Neale (#92): The umpire is responsible for spotting and assessing line play penalties: holding, illegal blocks, illegal contact, illegal hands to the face, etc. They also count the number of offensive players on the field. Bryan Neale has been an NFL official for 7 years, all as an Umpire. Neale has umpired 2 Los Angeles Rams games this season, coming in Week 2 versus the Colts and Week 10 versus the 49ers. During the game versus the Colts only 2 penalties were called against the Rams for 15 yards and against the 49ers the Rams had 5 penalties against them for 35 yards. Los Angeles was 1-1 SU, 0-2 ATS, and 1-1 O/U in these games. Neale did not umpire a game for the Bengals this season.
Down Judge Derick Bowers
2nd Super Bowl
16 total postseason games as an official (8 WC, 5 Div, 2 CC, SB XLIII)
The Role For Down Judge Derick Bowers (#74): Also called the “head linesman,” the down judge stands on the visitor’s side of the line of scrimmage primarily watching for offsides, false starts and encroachment, as well as neutral zone and pre-snap penalties. After the snap, the down judge watches the play near 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 their job to make sure the chain is properly spotted and anchored during a measurement.
Derick Bowers has been an official for 18 years, 16 as a down judge/head lineman. This will be Bower’s second Super Bowl (SBXLIII Cardinals/Steelers). He has officiated 1 Los Angeles Rams game and 1 Cincinnati Bengals game. The Rams game he officiated was the Divisional round matchup between Tampa Bay and Los Angeles, where 4 flags were thrown against the Rams and Buccaneers each. The one game Bowers officiated for Cincinnati was a Week 9 matchup against the Browns, where there were 14 flags total, but just 4 against Cincinnati.
Line Judge Carl Johnson
3rd Super Bowl
16 total postseason games as an official (3 WC, 8 Div, 3 CC, SB XLII, SB LIV)
The Role For Line Judge Carl Johnson (#101): The line judge stands on the home sideline, looks down the line of scrimmage and watches for pre-snap, neutral zone and alignment penalties. They also assume responsibility for plays that happen on or near his or her sideline within 5 to 7 yards of the line of scrimmage and are 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.
Carl Johnson has been an official in the NFL for 20 years, all 20 as a line judge. This will also be his third Super Bowl appearance (SB XLII Patriots/Giants and SB LIV 49ers/Chiefs). Carl was a line judge for 1 Rams game and 1 Bengals game this season. The Rams played the Vikings in Week 16, where only 1 penalty for 5 yards was called against Los Angeles. The Bengals lone game that was judged by Johnson was against Kansas City in Week 17, where 5 penalties were called against Cincinnati for 62 yards.
Field Judge Rick Patterson
3rd Super Bowl
21 total postseason games as an official (8 WC, 8 Div, 3 CC, SB XXXVII, SB XXXIX)
The Role For Field Judge Rick Patterson (#15): The field judge stands on the same side as the line judge, but 20 yards deep instead of near the line of scrimmage. The line judge also counts all defensive players at the time of the snap, checking for too many men on the field. They watch all of the eligible receivers on their 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. They also watch for field goal attempts and rule if they are good or no good.
Rick Patterson is a 22-year veteran in zebra stripes and for 5 of these years he’s been a field judge. Patterson will be working the third Super Bowl of his career (SBXXXVII Raiders/Buccaneers and SB XXXIX Patriots/Eagles) on Sunday as well. Rick has officiated 1 Rams game this season, which came back in Week 1 versus Chicago. In this contest the Rams had 4 penalties called against them for 36 yards. Patterson also officiated 1 Bengals game, in Week 4 versus Jacksonville, where there were 6 flags thrown against Cincinnati for 38 yards.
Side Judge Keith Washington
1st Super Bowl
6 total postseason games as an official (2 WC, 4 Div)
The Role For Side Judge Keith Washington (#7): The side judge lines up and watches the visitor;s 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 down the field such as pass completions or fouls like pass interference and defensive holding, as well as spotting the ball in or out of bounds and whistling plays dead. On field goal attempts, the side judge acts as a 2nd umpire and lines up parallel with the main umpire.
Keith Washington has been an NFL official for 13 years and was the side judge for 2 Los Angeles Rams games this year. Versus Seattle in Week 5, 5 penalties were called against the Rams for 85 yards. The second game Keith worked was the NFC Divisional Round versus the Buccaneers, where the Rams had 4 flags thrown against them for 45 yards. The Rams were 2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS, 1-1 O/U in these games.
Back Judge Scott Helverson
3rd Super Bowl
17 total postseason games as an official (6 WC, 5 Div, 4 CC, SB XLII, SB XLV)
The Role For Back Judge Scott Helverson (#93): The back judge’s number one responsibility is to watch over all kicks from scrimmage, including putting arms up for good field goals. They are also responsible for calling teams back after breaks or timeouts and pulling teams back into play after each quarter and halftime. During play, the back judge is lined up behind the farthest safety or defensive back on the field. They make all the same calls as the field and side judges.
Scott Helverson has 18 years under his belt as an NFL official and has worked 2 Super Bowls (SB XLII Patriots/Giants and SB XLV Steelers/Packers) as a back judge. He’s officiated only 1 game this season for Los Angeles, which came in Week 6 against the Giants where 7 penalties flags were thrown against the Rams for 50 yards. He did not officiate a Bengals game this season.
Overall Takeaways For The Super Bowl LVI Officiating Crew:
Every official has officiated at least 1 Rams game this season, while only 3 officials in this crew have officiated a Bengals game. Here are the records and penalty averages in these games:
Los Angeles Rams 8-1 SU, 7-2 ATS, 4-4 O/U (includes one push)
Cincinnati Bengals 2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS, 2-1 O/U
34 flags flew against the Rams - average of 4 flags per game
15 flags flew against the Bengals - average of 5 per game
For the season Los Angeles and Cincinnati rank 26th and 27th in total penalties against them, respectively, which INCLUDES games played in the playoffs. Those numbers still rank lower than most teams that didn't play a single postseason game this year. The Rams and Bengals average 37 and 37.6 penalty yards per game, respectively, as well.
Past 10 Super Bowls: (total penalties accepted/yards)
SB 55- Tampa Bay 4-39/ Kansas City 11-120
SB 54- Kansas City 4-24/ San Francisco 5-45
SB 53- New England 3-20/ Los Angeles 9-65
SB 52- Philadelphia 6-35/ New England 1-5
SB 51- New England 4-23/ Atlanta 9-56
SB 50- Denver 6-51/ Carolina 12-102
SB 49- New England 5-36/ Seattle 7-70
SB 48- Seattle 10-104/ Denver 5-44
SB 47- Baltimore 2-20/ San Francisco 5-33
SB 46- New York Giants 4-24/ New England 5-28
Los Angeles/ Cincinnati Last 10 Games: (total penalties accepted/yards)
Conference Championship- Los Angeles 2-10/ Cincinnati 4-30
Divisional Round- Los Angeles 4-45/ Cincinnati 6-46
Wild Card- Los Angeles 6-48/ Cincinnati 7-56
Week 18- Los Angeles 3-15/ Cincinnati 4-32
Week 17- Los Angeles 4-35/ Cincinnati 5-62
Week 16- Los Angeles 1-5/ Cincinnati 5-45
Week 15- Los Angeles 4-34/ Cincinnati 6-38
Week 14- Los Angeles 5-40/ 2-19
Week 13- Los Angeles 7-47/ 7-63
Week 12- Los Angeles 4-30/ 3-18
Week 10- Los Angeles 5-35/ Cincinnati 4-31
Ron Torbert's Crew: (Penalties/Penalty Yds Called for 2021-2022
Week 1- NYG/Den 9 penalties for 99 yds
Week 2- Car/NO 16 penalties for 164 yds
Week 3- Cle/Chi 12 penalties for 142 yds
Week 4-Buf/Hou 13 penalties for 130 yds
Week 5- Sea/LAR 8 penalties for 105 yds
Week 6- Den/LV 12 penalties for 107 yds
Week 7- GB/WAS 8 penalties for 86 yds
Week 8- LAC/NE 9 penalties for 70 yds
Week 10- Mia/Bal 15 penalties for 115 yds
Week 11- Jac/SF 9 penalties for 68 yds
Week 12- NYG/PHI 6 penalties for 41 yds
Week 13- Hou/Ind 9 penalties for 50 yds
Week 14- GB/Chi 10 penalties for 70 yds
Week 15- Mia/NYJ 8 penalties for 77 yds
Week 16- Atl/Det 8 penalties for 45 yds
Week 17- Cin/KC 15 penalties for 145 yds
Week 18- Phi/Dal 8 penalties for 74 yds
Divisional round- GB/SF 10 penalties for 65 yds
UNDER 10.5 total penalties @ Bet365 +105 (also acceptable at under 9.5)
UNDER 79.5 total penalty yards
I love the fact that both L.A. and Cincinnati are 2 of the least penalized teams in the NFL, ranking 26th and 27th respectively, as well as the fact of how Torbert’s lead crews have not been in a rush to throw many flags this season. One of my other favorite plays for the game (and not a prop bet) is the UNDER 48.5 game total for the game, again partly due to Torbert’s games as a lead referee being 11-5 in favor of the under. His totals add up to 43.5 points per game, second among qualified referees out of 17 in the NFL.
Another prop that I like and bet:
NO -130, Will Team with most accepted penalties win the game
In eight of the last 10 Super Bowls, the winning team has had the least amount of accepted penalties against them. Good luck to all on Sunday. Bet with confidence. Bet like you are always on a heater!