Every fan, of every team, in every sport has a problem with officiating.
In the NFL, a flag can make or break a game and with just 16 games they can also destroy a season. We see evidence of this every year.
The 2012 Dallas Cowboys were once again, one of the most penalized teams in the league. They drew 117 flags coming in third behind the Ravens and Rams.
These numbers aren’t surprising. The Cowboys are known as an undisciplined team that draws a high number of flags year in and year out. In fact, they have been quite consistent in this category. Since 2006 the Boys have averaged just over 111 flags a year. Again, this puts them at third in the NFL. You can’t get more consistent.
So why am I telling you what you already know? Well my friends, I’m one of you. I watch every game, yell at every bad play, and throw stuff for every call or non-call I see. Over the years I couldn’t help but suspect that my team was getting their unfair share of yellow laundry. I dismissed this suspicion as my bias as a fan until I decided to look at the numbers.
The Cowboys, since 2006, have seen their opponents rack up an average of about 87 penalties a season. The Cowboy’s opponents are getting almost 24 fewer flags each season in this time. This falls behind just one team, the Oakland Raiders, with their opponents getting called for 27 fewer flags.
The part of this that jumps out at me is how far the third team is on the list. The Buccaneers are third on the list with a differential of just 10.7 flags. That’s a HUGE jump.
Now I’m not suggesting that there is a conspiracy in the NFL to penalize the Cowboys and Raiders unfairly. However, these numbers do bring up some uncomfortable questions in my book. Two teams in the league consistently being penalized in the top 5 but their opponents are drawing the fewest.