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Best referees rarely assigned to Browns games in 2016

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Hue Jackson has reason to be unhappy.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Cleveland Browns Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Browns fans love to complain about referees. It’s a favorite past time, and one I revel in, too.

This year, Browns fans may have had a legitimate beef.

ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky conducted a study to see how often each team had the top 10 NFL referees. Read the full story here.

Kuharsky based his study on this idea: The NFL employs its best referees in the playoffs. Those ten referees rewarded with playoff assignments are: Brad Allen, Tony Corrente, Craig Wrolstad, Carl Cheffers, Ed Hochuli, Pete Morelli, Bill Vinovich, Ronald Torbert, Gere Steratore and Terry McAulay.

Of the 32 teams in the NFL, the Browns had one of these referees in a game the least number of times. The Browns had one or more of these officials in just 6 of 16 games this season. In other words, for 10 games this year, the Browns did not have a top official working.

The Browns’ mark of 6 games fell well below the league average was 9.3 games.

That’s not to say the Browns can totally blame the refs. The 49ers had one of the best 10 officials in 11 of their games, tied for second in the league. As Pat McManamon of ESPN wrote, “the team that had the top-10 refs the most was the Texans (12). The Giants, 49ers, Dolphins, Bengals and Chiefs were second.”

The dearth of quality refs does stem from the Browns’ performance, however. It makes sense if you think about it — the NFL assigns its referees to its best games, and the Browns rarely had good games.

McManamon said it well, “When the Browns win some games, they will get better referees.”