Ref Assignment for Packers vs. 49ers Playoff is Mixed Bag for Green Bay

For Packers fans hoping to see an evenly reffed game against the 49ers on Saturday, don't count on that being guaranteed. Alex Kemp is set to officiate the NFC Divisional Round contest.
Alex Kemp will officiate the Packers vs. 49ers NFC Divisional playoff clash on Saturday.
Alex Kemp will officiate the Packers vs. 49ers NFC Divisional playoff clash on Saturday. / Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

After upsetting the Dallas Cowboys, the Green Bay Packers continue their Super Bowl quest with Saturday's clash against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional playoffs. Although Packers fans don't know how the upcoming tilt will unfold, they now know who'll be officiating the pivotal clash.

The NFL announced on the Divisional Round referee assignments on Tuesday, revealing that Alex Kemp will be officiating this weekend's Packers vs. 49ers showdown. With that in mind, the veteran official's presence could go either way for Green Bay.

Alex Kemp to Officiate Packers vs. 49ers Divisional Game

Kemp — a former insurance agent from Michigan — has been with the NFL since 2014 and officiated 159 total games ahead of this weekend, which includes five postseason matchups. He served as a side judge until 2018 when he was promoted to referee after Ed Hochuli and Jeff Triplette retired.

So, why would this be mixed news?

When it comes to the good, the road team is 9-7 (56.3%) in games that Kemp officiated during the 2023 regular season, which is above the league average (43.9%). That includes when the Packers notched a 33-30 victory over the Carolina Panthers in Week 16, which began the team's current four-game winning streak.

As for the bad, Kemp tends to call penalties on the visitors, making an average of 7.4 calls per game on road teams compared to 5.7 on the home team. He calls only 42.8% of penalties on the home team, which is noticeably below the league average of 48.9%.

In fact, games reffed by Kemp involve more penalties (13.0) and penalty yards (101.6) than the average NFL game (11.4 and 93.9, respectively).

Nevertheless, the Packers are 6-4 in games where Kemp was the referee since the start of 2018. While his habit of making calls on the visitors likely points to an uphill battle for Green Bay, history shows that Matt LaFleur's team has managed to navigate those tricky waters before.

It'll be interesting to see what kind of impact Kemp has in a game where the Packers are projected to be 9.5-point underdogs against the 49ers, per FanDuel Sportsbook's latest odds.

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