Shawn Hochuli, leader of the NFL penalty flags, assigned to the Saints-Seahawks


Oh damn it. The New Orleans Saints will end their week off by kicking off the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football this week, visiting Lumen Field for the second time in three years. And they’ll be working with (hopefully not against) referee Shawn Hochuli and his team, who threw more penalty flags (87) than any of their peers this season.

Now, to be fair, penalties per game would be a better measure – several crews have already taken a week off, while the Hochuli staff have managed six games in as many weeks. In this case, Scott Novak’s crew ranks first (with 16 faults per game) and Hochuli falls to… second rank (14.5 per game). At least he ranks third in total penalty yards (734) and penalty yards per game (122.3).

The good news for New Orleans is that Hochuli has been harder on the home teams than the visitors, throwing 48 fouls for 421 penalty yards on the hosts against 39 flags for 313 penalties on the visiting teams. Maybe this trend continues throughout their prime-time play. Another unfortunate trend, however, is that the Saints are 1-2 with Hochuli in hand since he was promoted to umpire in 2018 – including their playoff elimination loss to the Buccaneers in January of this year.

Either way, the Saints need to be playing well enough that refereeing doesn’t matter. New Orleans enters this game with the fifth fewest penalties against them (30) while seeing the fewest beneficial faults (22). Seattle is not far behind with 35 fouls against them and 29 beneficial penalties. The less time Hochuli spends opposite on Monday night’s show, the better.

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