The San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders square off on Sunday in what some describe as a rivalry game, and Justin Tuck declared a potential blood bath. I don't anticipate it being quite that crazy, but you never know what it will bring in that regard.
As has been the case in the NFL for some time now, it is entirely possible the officiating will swing this game in some form or fashion. A bad call here, a missed call there, and suddenly one of these teams will find itself getting a huge third down conversion, or great field position. It is a shame when it comes down to this, but it happens far too frequently in the NFL.
The 49ers and Raiders have been right in the middle of the pack in terms of penalties against. The 49ers are No. 16 in the league with 6.83 accepted penalties per game, accounting for 53.42 yards. The Raiders are No. 15 in the league with 6.92 accepted penalties per game, accounting for 55 yards. The folks at NFLPenalties.com also provide a look at the beneficiary account, which is opponent penalties. The 49ers are third in the NFL in opponent penalties at 7.83 accepted per game, account for 59.67 yards (No. 12). The Raiders are sixth at 7.5 accepted penalties per game, accounting for 61.33 yards (ninth).
Early in the season it felt like the 49ers were getting hammered with more penalties, but over the course of the season, they have benefited strictly from a numeric standpoint. It would be interesting to break down the timing of various penalties, as far as when in the game, and when in a given drive. A 5-yard penalty on 1st and 10 versus a 5 yard penalty on 3rd and 12 can be a huge difference.
Terry McAulay will be the lead ref for 49ers-Raiders. His crew handled the 49ers-Cowboys season opener. That game seemed to deal with an increased in flags in the second half. We'll see if McAulay and his crew are flag happy on Sunday. If the 49ers find themselves in a close game, it will be about a lot more than penalties. However, given the state of NFL officiating, it will be interesting to see if and how the refs impact Sunday's game.