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Playoffs start for 8 crews, 3 all-star crews



The NFL released its schedule Sunday night for the 12 teams qualifying for the playoffs. We are waiting this week for the assignments for the game officials, who are still being evaluated in their Week 17 games.

During the season, every official is graded on every single play for the calls that they made. An incorrect call or a missed call is calculated in an overall average score of accuracy. Last year, a segment of “Official Review” on showed the process of evaluating a single play, which involved shuttling the tape 25 times for generic incompletion (video, beginning  at 2:10, and our coverage).

Separately, each official and the crews as a whole are evaluated in other areas, such as the pace of the game, placing an emphasis on getting the right call without game-delaying conferences. Also, officials are graded on written tests of mock plays.

The officiating department will then take all the evaluations to determine their playoff assignments under the following guidelines:

  • The top eight crews, or half of the officiating staff, will be assigned a game in the wild card or divisional playoff rounds.
  • Any officials who are in their rookie year with the league will be replaced with an official from another crew. Similarly, a head referee cannot officiate in his first year after promotion to the crew chief, but he is eligible to be an alternate for the playoffs.
  • The top three officials at each position will officiate the conference championship games and the Super Bowl. However, an official must have been selected to a playoff game in a previous season and have five seasons’ experience to qualify. In addition, for the Super Bowl he must have also officated a conference championship game.
  • Apparently, the league avoids assigning an official to consecutive Super Bowls.

Update 1/5: A league source told us that the playoff assignments will be announced on Thursday.

Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)

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