It was recently announced that the most recognizable referee in the NFL, Ed Hochuli, will be officiating Sunday's AFC Championship Game between the Patriots and Broncos. In literally every other sport on the planet, who is officiating the game is a relatively minor storyline; but this is the National Football League we're talking about here, and in this league there is no such thing as a minor storyline.
It has already been pointed out here on Pats Pulpit that Hochuli calls more penalties per game than other refs, throws 3% fewer flags for the home team, and that home teams win slightly more than average when he is at the helm. We have also noted that the Pats are 2-3 in the past five Hochuli-led games and 8-10 in their past 18 Hochuli led games. Odds are than none of these numbers really mean anything, but it's worth noting nonetheless.
Also worth noting is that the Denver Broncos have yet to lose a game this millennium when Hochuli's crew is calling the shots. They are 7-0 with him since 2000, and 6-0 since 2006. Whether or not the league knew of this before assigning Hochuli to the game is anybody's guess, but since pretty much anything to do with the Patriots is always cause for a good conspiracy theory or ten, I'm sure we'll have plenty of folks ready and willing to point the finger at the referees should the Pats drop Sunday's matchup.
Granted, they probably would have done that anyway, but at least this time there will at least be some kind of precedent.
On the plus side, Tommy B is 5-1 against Manning when the Patriots are favored by three points or more. The spread currently sits at -3. So there's that.