HOUSTON—Shedding light on the suspected league-wide officiating trend, a new study published Wednesday by researchers at Baylor University has suggested that NFL referees may in fact display a clear bias toward disciplined football teams. “According to our analysis of officiating decisions over the past several seasons, referees do appear to distinctly favor teams that exhibit poise and play in accordance with NFL rules and regulations,” said lead researcher Randall Levitz, explaining that on-field rulings disproportionately punish teams that frequently jump offsides, engage in excessive celebrations, or shove opponents after a play is blown dead. “In any given game, for example, the team that repeatedly delivers cheap-shot late hits on the opposing quarterback is targeted for roughing the passer penalties far more often than the team that does not do that. And accordingly, maintaining focus and professionalism throughout all four quarters yields a distinct and, frankly, totally unfair competitive advantage.” The study went on to confirm that the blatant officiating bias has directly affected the outcome of virtually every game involving the Detroit Lions over the past five seasons.

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