Color the Second Weekend of the NFL Season Yellow
This is historically the highest penalty weekend of an NFL season
The second weekend of the 2015 NFL season was historic.
Something dramatic happened on the football fields that weekend that has never happened before or since. In the 16 games that weekend, NFL officiating crews assessed 298 penalties for 2,659 yards – both single-weekend records for the league.
The second weekend of the 2015 season was merely an exclamation point to an NFL officiating trend. Historically, more penalties are called on the second weekend of the NFL season than any other weekend. Since I began charting the weekly penalties in 2006, the second weekend has been the high-penalty weekend six times, including twice in the last three seasons. The second has also been the runnerup penalty-weekend in four other NFL seasons.
In the second weekend of the 2015 season, Peter Morelli’s officiating crew assessed 26 penalties for 215 yards in the Baltimore-Oakland game that weekend and Ron Torbert’s crew assessed 25 penalties for 259 yards in the New England-Buffalo game. Tony Corrente’s crew slapped 18 penalties for 142 yards on the Dallas Cowboys alone in their game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Thirteen teams were assessed at least 10 penalties that second weekend of the 2015 season and eight were docked at least 100 yards.
For the 2015 season, the NFL averaged 13.8 penalties for 117.3 yards per the 256 regular-season games. But in that second weekend, those games averaged 18.6 penalties for 166.2 yards per game.
There were 221 penalties assessed during the second weekend of the 2021 season for 2,007 yards – the only weekend all season NFL officials walked off 2,000 yards in infractions. In 2019, there were 256 penalties assessed on the second weekend for 2,110 yards. There were averages of 13.4 penalties for 114.5 yards per game during the 2019 season. But on that second weekend, those numbers jumped to 16.0 penalties for 131.9 yards.
Historically, the next highest penalty weekend has been the third. Three times since 2006 it has been the high-penalty weekend of an NFL season. The first and 13th weekends have been the high-penalty weekends twice apiece.
So brace for a barrage of yellow flags this NFL weekend…and likely the next.