NFL assigns referee Carl Cheffers to work Saints-Packers Week 1

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The New Orleans Saints’ regular season opener with the Green Bay Packers will be officiated by referee Carl Cheffers and his crew, per Football Zebras. Cheffers is a 13-year veteran in this role who spent 7 years as a side judge prior to his promotion in 2008.

Cheffers was the NFL’s handpicked referee for Super Bowl LV and recently spent a few days at Saints training camp to help players acclimate. He didn’t officiate a single Saints game in 2020, but New Orleans is 13-2 for games he’s refereed in his career. This Saints-Packers game will be played at a neutral site in Jacksonville’s TIAA Bank Field, but it’s worth noting Cheffers and his crew called 88 penalties on home teams against 121 fouls for away teams.

That total (209) ranked second-highest in the league last year. Additionally, Cheffers’ crew threw 1.48 more penalty flags per game for 8.7 more penalty yards per game than the NFL average. False starts (42 times, per NFLPenalties.com) and offensive holding (34) were by far their most common fouls, followed by defensive pass interference (22).

Let’s compare those top three penalties for Cheffers’ crew against what the Saints and Packers averaged per game last season:

Defensive pass interference

Offensive holding

False starts

Total penalties

Cheffers

1.29

2.00

2.47

12.33

New Orleans

1.06

0.83

0.67

5.98

Green Bay

0.39

1.11

0.39

5.09

NFL average

0.58

0.89

0.96

5.39

As we can see, the DPI trend is a problem — the Saints nearly doubled the NFL average for DPI (9.81) with 19 such penalties, so they’ll have to really watch themselves on Sunday with Cheffers’ flag-happy crew on hand. Here’s hoping for a clean game without any controversial decisions. We can hope, right?