Football Outsiders

Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis

Championship Sunday Open Discussion

The Los Angeles Rams visit New Orleans to play the Saints for the NFC Championship and the George Halas Trophy at 3:05 p.m. EST. Then the New England Patriots head to Kansas City to face the Chiefs for the AFC Championship and the Lamar Hunt Trophy at 6:40 p.m. Winners meet in the Super Bowl two weeks later. Let's do this.


209 comments, Last at 22 Jan 2019, 5:38am

1 Re: Championship Sunday Open Discussion

I think the AFC game will be higher scoring than expected, while the NFC game will be lower scoring than expected.

AFC: Chiefs 35, Patriots 27

NFC: Saints 28, Rams 20

8 Re: Championship Sunday Open Discussion

Wow, the Saints dominated almost that entire half, but suddenly it's a three point game and LA gets the ball first after halftime.

20 Re: Championship Sunday Open Discussion

Letting players play is one thing. That should have been DPI, or, even 15 yards for helmet to helmet. That is surely the kind of thing, inside the final 2 minutes, that should be overturnable by league office replay officials.

24 Re: Championship Sunday Open Discussion

Yeah. I get that some things are judgment calls, and that certain penalties may be missed by an official who isn’t watching a particular player or doesn’t have the right angle, but that one...that’s the worst missed call I’ve ever seen. There needs to be a mechanism to correct something that egregious.

28 Re: Championship Sunday Open Discussion

Or an official who has money on the Rams.

I have no skin in this game, but that was WWE level stuff. That hit is probably a penalty under modern rules even if the WR had been carrying the ball. That no-call was SO bad that I have trouble ascribing it to stupidity, and am forced to seriously consider the possibility of malice.

32 Re: Championship Sunday Open Discussion

Don't think there's any need for that. The referees are incentivized to swallow their whistles in big moments because they don't want to be part of the story. Even in this game, you can see how it works. Yes, that blown call will be a big story, but a lot of the stuff that happened afterwards, such as that Brees pick, will be huge headlines. If they make a call and it's bad the other way (shouldn't have been called), they are the biggest headline.

44 Re: Championship Sunday Open Discussion

I'm not talking about that individual call, I'm talking about the general tendency to swallow the whistles in high leverage situations. Obviously they didn't want to blamed for flipping the outcome, which is likely what will happen today. But this was an extreme case. Usually the call is more borderline and the tendency to swallow whistles works out just fine for the refs.

56 Re: Championship Sunday Open Discussion

Sometimes, there's terrible calls (or no-calls) because the refs had limited vision on the play, or they realize they botched it but replay isn't conclusive, or a bad rule is correctly enforced. These things happen.

Then sometimes there's committing four different penalties with one flying leap at a receiver, along the sidelines, and not getting a flag. That's genuine Tim Donaghy level stuff.

171 Re: Championship Sunday Open Discussion

They could beef up the centralized HQ operation in the same way that soccer leagues do with VAR. Allow the retired official watching the replay feed to buzz for clear screw-ups that are obvious in real time. Only until the next play starts, so there's no room for micro analysis of frame by frame Zapruder film antics, but if anyone would overturn the call within five seconds, there should be that opportunity.

Of course, they'd have to beef up the payroll so that there is an authority watching the real time feeds rather than an intern.

23 Re: Championship Sunday Open Discussion

Now probably overtime. They are better than they used to be, but the OT rules are still pretty bad. You should never have an enormous swing in win percentage on a literal coin flip.

30 Re: Championship Sunday Open Discussion

Is it a big swing, though? Sure you lose the game if you allow a touchdown, but if you don't you now have the advantage of knowing what you need to win the game. Wouldn't shock me if that turned out to be a fair tradeoff...

I mean how often do teams score from their own 20?

35 Re: Championship Sunday Open Discussion

No way, except in a very defensive game. Remember, if the two teams exchange FGs, the team that got the ball still has the same enormous advantage of getting the ball first needing only a score to win. More importantly, while teams do score on drives from their own 25 fairly often, that's not the point. Even a low chance is huge because the other team never gets a chance to respond.

25 Re: Championship Sunday Open Discussion

I get not wanting to throw the flag that decides the championship game. But how about not wanting to NOT throw the flag that decides the championship game?

26 Re: Championship Sunday Open Discussion

This game should be over already.

Terrible job by the officials today. The no-call on the DPI was an extension of their policy all day to ignore penalties.

29 Re: Championship Sunday Open Discussion

WTH, what a weird pick. In the air I didn't think there was any chance the defender would have it since he was on his back. The pass had to go to exactly the right place for him to have a chance.