Allen Park — Following a Monday night loss marred by questionable officiating and a league-acknowledged mistake in the closing minutes, the small percentage of Detroit Lions fans who believe the league's referees are compromised have found a new member to their cult.
Reacting to a trending stat following the controversial Monday night game, which highlights the Lions have benefited the least from penalties called against an opponent this season, while the Packers have benefited the most, Kelly Stafford, wife of Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, waded into the waters of conspiracy theory on Instagram.
"Last post and then i think I'll be done caring, but after re-watching this game on TV, someone in Vegas is controlling these refs, or maybe someone at the top," she wrote.
The stat unquestionably looks bad, but lacks the context of sample size. The crews a team draws each week also matter. For example, the Lions drew and benefited from 94 penalties in 2018, both among the lowest totals in the NFL.
Additionally, Green Bay has had 43 penalties called against them to 49 in their favor in 2019. Given they've played four of six games at home, and road teams generally draw more penalties, the margin doesn't stand out as glaring.
There will always be a segment of sports fan bases who genuinely believe there's something nefarious afoot when officiating directly impacts the results of a game. And in a time where an NBA referee spent time in prison for betting on games he officiated, good look convincing those fans otherwise.
Complaining about NFL officiating has long been a popular past time in Detroit, and with a number of big calls going against the Lions in the past decade, from the Calvin Johnson catch reversal to the no-call on the batted ball out the back of the end zone in 2015 to the 10-second runoff ending a game in 2017, it's easy to understand the frustration.
Still, to date, there's never been evidence to indicate the fix is in.