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Outside the Stripes

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.

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?"