Pete Morelli is the referee, who is in his 18th season and 13th as referee. This is Morelli’s 15th postseason assignment (7 Wild Card Playoffs, 5 Divisional Playoffs, 2 Conference Championships, and Super Bowl XXXVI). His Super Bowl assignment was as a field judge.
In addition to the playoff experience, Morelli earned recognition from Ben Austro and Mark Schultz of Football Zebras as both chose Morelli for the Super Bowl in their predictions for referee assingments for the playoffs.Aug 24, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; NFL referee Pete Morelli reacts during the game between the Arizona Cardinals against the Cincinnati Bengals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
While Morelli has a solid reputation, it may come in part due to the fact that he and his crew don’t make a point to be a big part of the story. Bettors will look for any kind of advantage they can find and the site sportingcharts.com pointed out mid-season the frequency with which games involving Morelli’s crew posted point totals under the sports books’ over/under by keeping the flags in the pockets.
If the trend for playing the under is not clear enough, you might also be comforted by the fact that this is not a fluke. Morelli’s crew have been below-average in calling penalties for 11 straight years, which might explain the low-scoring nature of his games.
For the season, the Morelli crew flagged visiting teams an average of 6.9 times for 58.7 yards and home teams an average of 5.3 times for 41.5 yards.
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Morelli refereed two Lions games this season; week eight against the Falcons (thanks for that delay of game penalty!) in London and week 15 at home against the Vikings.
The Lions were penalized 8 times for 85 yards against the Falcons and five times for 35 yards against the Vikings. Both games finished under the Vegas point total.
Morelli’s crew officiated one Cowboys game this season, another that came in under the point total. The Cowboys were flagged seven times for 56 yards as the home team while the visiting Texans were penalized five times for 35 yards.
Over/under point total for Sunday’s game is at 48, you know, for entertainment purposes.