For a moment here, we will disregard our previous reporting on the playoff assignments (as the league thinks you should) and present our predictions for playoff assignments. We have chosen our assignments for the referee position only, not the entire crew.
This year, all officials are assigned on individual merit, and not by the cumulative rank of the crew (see our post for the full playoff assignment criteria). Feel free to add your observations in the comment section.
I think Gene Steratore has had a solid season this year. He really impressed us from Day 1 when he headed his crew less than 24 hours after a agreement in principle was reached ending the contract lockout.
I’m riding high on the Clete Blakeman bandwagon, although the 49ers-Rams tie game this year was a bit uncharacteristic for him. I might be premature in putting him in a Conference Championship slot in his first year of eligibility, but he’s just that damn good. Pete Morelli always gives a yeoman-like performance; he’s not going to win you over with style points, but he runs a tight ship. It was a toss-up between him and Steratore for the Super Bowl. (Blakeman doesn’t have the requisite seniority for the Super Bowl.)
It was really hard to exclude my selections for the Divisional Playoffs from the Conference Championship, but I had to draw the line somewhere. I think Ron Winter really deserves a Conference Championship this year, but it is crowded at the top.
Bill Vinovich has shown that he has not lost step, and demonstrated playoff readiness as he was able to step right in to a new crew each week as a roving crew chief. Ed Hochuli continues his impressive streak of playoff appearances (only grading out of an assignment one year since 1991), but this year seemed a little less than the lofty Hochuli standard.
Gene Steratore is on the cusp of replacing Hochuli as the “it” referee in the NFL. Wait until next year for his Super Bowl. Ron Winter has had a very good year, even though Al Michaels may not like him. The last few years have seen Winter improve as a referee, and I think that improvement will carry him to the Championship round.
Jeff Triplette stayed away from controversy this year and had a good season. Mike Carey flew under the radar, and also had a good season. It was another efficient year for Terry McAulay, but his crew had a few issues.
John Parry, coming off Super Bowl performance last season, has had a strong year. No Super Bowl hangover. Clete Blakeman will challenge for the Super Bowl in coming years. His crew had a timing error earlier this year, which could hold him back from a higher assignment.
Walt Anderson gets aced out of the playoffs due to a numbers crunch. Too many good officials and too few playoff games.
|Ben Austro||Mark Schultz|
|Super Bowl||Gene Steratore||(WC-alt)||Alberto Riveron||↓↓↓ (WC)|
|Conference Championship||Clete Blakeman||Gene Steratore||(WC-alt)|
|Pete Morelli||↓↓ (WC)||Ron Winter||(CC-alt)|
|Divisional Playoffs||Walt Anderson||(DIV-alt)||Mike Carey||↓ (WC)|
|Terry McAulay||↑ (CC)||Bill Leavy||↑ (CC)|
|John Parry||↓ (WC)||Terry McAulay||↑ (CC)|
|Ron Winter||(CC-alt)||Jeff Triplette||(WC-alt)|
|Wild Card Playoffs||Tony Corrente||↑ (DIV)||Clete Blakeman|
|Ed Hochuli||(PRO)||Tony Corrente||↑ (DIV)|
|Jeff Triplette||(WC-alt)||Ed Hochuli||(PRO)|
|Bill Vinovich||↑ (DIV)||John Parry|
|Pro Bowl||Mike Carey||(WC)||Walt Anderson||(DIV-alt)|