Bill Vinovich, seen here flipping the coin to start overtime in last season’s divisional playoff, brings his crew to Houston for Sunday Night Football.
The crews of Carl Cheffers, Terry McAulay, John Parry, and Gene Steratore are off this week.
Thursday, Oct. 31
- Bengals at Dolphins NFLN — Bill Leavy
Sunday, Nov. 3
- Chiefs at Bills — Ron Winter
- Falcons at Panthers — Tony Corrente
- Vikings at Cowboys — Jeff Triplette
- Saints at Jets — Clete Blakeman
- Titans at Rams — Pete Morelli
- Chargers at Redskins — Jerome Boger
- Eagles at Raiders — Ed Hochuli
- Buccaneers at Seahawks — Mike Carey
- Ravens at Browns — Scott Green
- Steelers at Patriots — Walt Coleman
- Colts at Texans NBC — Bill Vinovich
Monday, Nov. 4
- Bears at Packers ESPN — Walt Anderson
Image: Baltimore Ravens photo. Assignments compiled with the assistance of Football-refs.com
Kevin SeifertNFL NationClose
- ESPN.com national NFL writer
- ESPN.com NFC North reporter, 2008-2013
- Covered Vikings for Minneapolis Star Tribune, 1999-2008
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The NFL has confirmed the referees who will work its divisional round playoff games, providing a glimpse into the weekend and beyond.
Typically, the league uses its top-graded officials in the playoffs and puts them on a two-week rotation. That means the referee for Super Bowl 50 should be one of the four who work this weekend.
As we did last week, let's take a closer look at the divisional round assignments with help from the ESPN Stats & Information database. Remember, the referees below will have "all-star" crews and not necessarily the same officials that comprised their regular-season crews. That might make some of their tendencies less visible, but the referee still sets the tone for any crew.
Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots
Referee: Craig Wrolstad
2015 with Chiefs: Called 11 penalties on Chiefs in 34-20 victory over Raiders in Week 13
2015 with Patriots: No games
Analysis: This assignment means Wrolstad was one of the NFL's highest-graded referees in just his second year on the job. ... His regular-season crew led the NFL with 11 penalties for roughing the passer, a call that the referee himself is typically responsible for making. ... The Patriots, who led the NFL with 12 offensive pass interference penalties this season, will be happy to know Wrolstad's crew called just three in the regular season, tied for the second fewest in the league. ... His crew was aggressive in calling pre-snap penalties, ranking second with 41 false starts and third in combined false starts, encroachment, offsides and neutral zone infractions (55).
Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals
Referee: Clete Blakeman
2015 with Packers: No games
2015 with Cardinals: Called nine penalties on Cardinals in 39-32 victory over Seahawks in Week 10
Analysis: Blakeman's regular-season crew was relatively lenient on offensive linemen, calling just 38 offensive holding penalties. That ranked as the second fewest in the league. ... On the other hand, it was aggressive in the defensive backfield. Its combined total of 43 penalties for defensive pass interference, illegal contact and defensive holding ranked as the fourth highest.
Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers
Referee: Tony Corrente
2015 with Seahawks: Called five penalties on the Seahawks in a 13-10 victory over the Lions in Week 4
2015 with Panthers: Called nine penalties on the Panthers in a 38-30 victory over the Falcons in Week 14
Analysis: Corrente was the referee in the infamous Monday night game in Week 4 that ended in controversy; his regular-season back judge (Greg Wilson) failed to penalize the Seahawks for an illegal bat penalty that might have changed the outcome of the game. But Corrente's assignment in this round means the league graded the rest of his season well. ... Corrente's crew called the fewest penalties for defensive holding (11) and delay of game (five). ... It was one of five crews not to call a single intentional grounding penalty. ... It also called more than half (five) of the league's total penalties for ineligible men downfield on kicks (nine).
Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos
Referee: Terry McAulay
2015 with Steelers: No games
2015 with Broncos: No games
Analysis: McAulay's most publicly notable moment in 2015 was failing to control the growing chaos between the Panthers and New York Giants in Week 15. Vice president of officiating Dean Blandino criticized McAulay's crew for failing to eject Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. That makes his assignment to this game interesting. The Broncos are upset about a hit that took place in the teams' Week 15 meeting and haven't hidden it this week. ... McAulay's crew did rank fourth in combined penalties for personal fouls, taunting, unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct (25). ... It also called the NFL's third-most penalties for offensive pass interference (11).