The New Orleans Saints will close out their 2022 regular season with the same officiating crew on hand that started with them. Referee Alex Kemp and his crew will be on the field at the Caesars Superdome on Sunday as the Saints kick off with the visiting Carolina Panthers. The Saints last saw Kemp in Week 1’s last-second win over the Atlanta Falcons.
New Orleans is 3-1 in games which Kemp has refereed, dating back to the 2019 season, with the Saints taking 36 penalties for 316 yards against 26 fouls for 206 yards on their opponents. They’ve won those games by margins of 34-31, 27-26, and 21-9 with a 27-25 loss thrown in the mix.
But let’s talk about this year. Kemp’s crew has thrown more penalty flags (235) than any other this season, with an emphasis on offensive holding fouls (36, or 2.4 per game) and false starts (33, 2.2 per game), so it’s a safe bet they’ll be watching offensive line play closely.
That should be more of a problem for the Panthers than for New Orleans. The Saints have taken the third-fewest penalties for offensive holding around the league (12), while the Panthers rank near the middle of the pack (17). Weirdly, the Saints have benefited from the third-most fouls for offensive holding on their opponents (25), with the Panthers again clocking in near league-average (19). However, the Saints lead the NFL in false start penalties (25) and the Panthers aren’t far behind (22). Both teams are tied for the ninth-most false start fouls on their opponents (18).
Hopefully we don’t see much of Kemp’s crew on Sunday. The more often they’re stopping the pace of play to get in front of cameras and slow down the game, the worse we’ll all be for it. Let’s hope for a fair game with an unquestioned result — a big Saints win to go into the offseason with positive momentum.