Article Written By: Andre Datyelian
After going 0-2 with my picks for the Conference Championships this past weekend, I was humbled. I felt I was not alone with my picks either, and with good reason. The Niners had been on a strong roll and the Patriots with Belichick had a strong chance to stop Manning and move on themselves.
I was wrong with my picks and one reason could be it’s the NFL, anything can happen in any given week. Another reason could be that the home field advantage was too much to overcome for the two road teams I selected to move on in the Conference Championships. But then in a conversation with Jordan Victorin, he pointed out to me Vegas never seems to lose money on these kind of games. He also pointed out to me that most of the money people bet was on the Patriots, meaning if the Patriots won then Vegas would have lost a lot of money and Vegas doesn’t lose money.
Is it possible Vegas is just psychic? Or do they have some influence in the one way possible for them to influence a game, through the referees. If you think back to the NBA and the Tim Donaghy situation, then you know it’s definitely a possibility that referees are purposefully miscalling games in the NFL or any other professional sport that involves betting.
In the Patriots versus Broncos game, after cornerback Talib was taken out with a possible illegal screen set by the Broncos receiver, it allowed Demaryius Thomas to run wild and be physical the rest of the game with cornerback Dennard who is smaller than him. There were a lot of possible offensive pass interference calls that were ignored by the referees in this game.
According to the announcers, the refs were “letting them play” with the obvious advantage going for the Broncos who have big, more physical receivers in Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, and Eric Decker. Was this just how the game was called in the moment or was it a choice the referees made before the game because of other influences that could possibly include Vegas?
Similarly in the Niners versus Seahawks game there were a lot of questionable missed calls in the second half, including one big call where Jermaine Kearse fumbled the ball and Navorro Bowman recovered the fumble while sustaining a gruesome knee injury. The referees called it Seahawks ball even though everyone including the Seahawks knew that Bowman recovered that ball. Again there was a consistent amount of calls that went against the Niners in that game raising the question again, was it just bad refereeing or was there an influence?
The truth is in the Patriots versus Broncos game, not only could Peyton Manning not be stopped as they seemed to score on every possession except their first drive but also Brady missed some big throws that could’ve kept them in the game. The Patriots have had a theme of comebacks, and they seemed to be making one, but it was too late and a missed 2-point conversion really ended the game. The Talib injury also was hard to overcome with how big and strong Demaryius Thomas is, the Patriots didn’t have anyone else to match up with him. The Broncos deserved the victory and to go to the Super Bowl that day.
The truth is with the 49ers versus the Seahawks is that Marshawn Lynch had a huge run that went for a touchdown to get them back in the game. Plus Russell Wilson had a huge fourth down touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse. On top of that the Niners still had a chance at the end of the game with the final drive that could’ve won the game had Richard Sherman not made a huge play on the ball allowing his teammate to intercept the ball. So in the end the Seahawks held on long enough to take the lead and let their defense win the game for them and go to the Super Bowl.
With all of that, it’s possible that Vegas can influence a few referees to take some money on the side to blow some calls but at the same time, in this wacky world of sports, there’s always a chance for either side to win with so many factors involved. It’s also comforting to think that with replay reviews that it’s hard for referees to really affect any important calls. Thus Vegas may have some influence and they may be good at taking our money but it’s not enough to control the outcome our favorite teams games.