Zebras weren't throwing as many flags during Wild Card Weekend - Is that good or bad for the Pats?
There were only 31 flags thrown during the whole of Wild Card Weekend for an average of 7.75 yards, according to Football Perspective. Yep, 31 in 4 games. And this shows a broader trend, according to FP - penalties are down on Wild Card Weekend, but spike a little in later rounds. Why? FP speculates that it's the playoffs, and that means it's the best teams playing, who commit fewer penalties than in the regular season. Another possible explanation could be the referees letting teams get away with more because it's the playoffs.
Either way, penalties were down this past weekend, and that begs the question: How does it affect the Patriots? On the one hand, the Patriots have been the beneficiaries of some late game flags (see: Cleveland in Week 14), but also been on the wrong end of a couple late game flags (see: the NY Jets in Week 7 and Carolina in Week 11). If you were to ask any of the Patriots players or coaching staff, they'd probably be indifferent and with good reason. You can't control how many flags the officials will throw, or when, but I'm sure the Patriots are focused on what they can control. Like game-planning to beat the Colts on Saturday night.