Referee Brad Allen’s crew assigned to officiate Saints-Bills game

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Eighth-year referee Brad Allen and his crew will work Thursday night’s game between the New Orleans Saints and the Buffalo Bills, NFL officiating announced Monday. The Saints are 4-2 in games Allen has officiated, most recently beating the Atlanta Falcons 24-9 in Week 11 last season. Buffalo is 4-4 in games he was worked.

Allen’s crew has averaged the third-fewest penalty flags per game this season (11.56) and the fifth-fewest penalty yards (102.67), with more penalties going against the visiting team (6.67) than the home team (4.89) on average each week. Most of their attention has focused on the offensive line, with 19 holding fouls and 16 false starts flagged this season. The Bills have drawn 75 fouls for 661 penalty yards in 10 games this season while the Saints have been flagged 61 times for 510 yards through 10 games.

It’s been a popular narrative that these trends will quickly reverse given the Saints’ ugly history with officiating, but the Bills have been so much sloppier this year that it could make a difference. New Orleans collected three flags for 25 penalty yards in last week’s game after drawing 19 fouls through the two previous weeks, so maybe they’ve turned a corner.

Whatever the case, at the end of the day they’ll have to be on top of their game against a good opponent. The Saints can’t afford more miscues, dropped passes, or botched blocking assignments. Sean Payton has to prove he can keep his offense competitive despite the injuries they’ve racked up.

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