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The final push to the playoffs

What crews look good to extend their season?

The last quarter of the NFL regular season has started (didn’t training camps open two weeks ago?).   As teams make a final push to secure a coveted post season berth the officials also are making a push to nail down a prestigious playoff game.

The NFL assigns the wild card and divisional rounds by crew.   The best-performing crews go, usually, as a block to work those games.   The conference championships and Super Bowl are assigned to the top three officials at each position.       

So, how do the crews look to this observer?   Who is a lock for the playoffs, who needs to finish strong, and who will miss out?   Here is my best guess, and it’s only a guess.

Crews who have locked up a playoff game:

  • Gene Steratore
  • Walt Anderson
  • Jeff Triplette
  • Ron Winter
  • Terry McAulay

Crews that will have to finish strong but have a chance:

  • Clete Blakeman
  • Ed Hochuli
  • John Parry
  • Jerome Boger
  • Tony Corrente
  • Mike Carey
  • Bill Leavy
  • Pete Morelli

Crews that, in my opinion, have had sub-par performances and have very slim hopes to get a playoff game:

  • Alberto Riveron
  • Walt Coleman
  • Carl Cheffers
  • Scott Green

That’s too many crews for four wild card and four divisional games.   It just goes to show that there are several quality officials in the NFL and there will be some very good officials left on the sidelines come playoff time.   Getting a playoff game is a high honor for any NFL official.

There are many whistles to blow and flags to throw between now and the end of the regular season, so my formal picks will happen at a later date, but I thought I’d give my thoughts on how I see the crews as the season begins its final act.

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Mark Schultz
Mark Schultz is a high school football official, freelance writer and journalist. He first became interested in officiating when he was six years old, was watching a NFL game with his father and asked the fateful question, "Dad, what are those guys in the striped shirts doing?"

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7 thoughts on “The final push to the playoffs

  1. Good stuff Mark!

    I agree with you on a lot of what you said, but I would put Morelli in the locked up a playoff spot list and Anderson on the needs work list. Anderson’s crew has had a few very poor games this season. We shall see though, there are always some surprises.

  2. I concur with Russ’ comment about Morelli’s crew, I think they’ve had a pretty solid season. If we had to assign them today, to fill out the 8, I’d use your 5 and add Morelli, Corrente, and Carey. Hard to believe I’m leaving “Guns” off the list, but it hasn’t been his year (though his son had a great year with the Pac-12).

  3. The one referee that has been left off the list is Bill Vinovich. As he has filled in for most of the referees, would he be a possibility to replace one of the lower rated referees? I am not sure that he is even eligible for the playoffs, it would all depend if the NFL considers him a 1st year referee (ineligible for the playoffs) or as a veteran referee.

  4. Yeah, we aren’t sure about Vinovich being qualified, since he’s been out a few years. We’re going to try to get confirmation from the league if he’s eligible.

  5. Ah, you’re right, I forgot Parry. I would put him in the middle group. If his crew doesn’t go, he could be a candidate for a championship game.

  6. I pray that Mike Carey does not get a playoff assignment. I have not been impressed with his crew this year. “Roughing the passer” seems very subjective to his crew. QB’s who are known to be runners are fair game even after they slide in his world.

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