Published on November 19th, 2011 | by thevyne1
Football Cheat Sheet
Football Season is upon us which means Superbowl parties are right around the corner. If you’re a woman who would like to at least be able to follow what’s happening in a game the next time you attend a Superbowl party, or perhaps you want to impress a certain guy (hey…no judgment…do what you gotta do), then this is the article for you. Read on to get a quick and thorough download on the basics of football before you hit your next football social.
Structure of the NFL – There are several teams (~32) in the NFL, all of which are organized into two conferences with four divisions in each conference. The two conferences are the NFC (National Football Conference) and the AFC (American Football Conference). Each conference has an East, West, North and South division. For example, the New York Giants are a part of the NFC East. At the very least you should know what conference and division your hometown team plays in.
Object of the Game – In short, object of the game is to make more touchdowns than your opponent. There are a variety of ways to score in a football game besides touchdowns but this is a 101 article, so just remember a touchdown happens when the ball is carried into the end zone of the opposing team.
Breakdown of the Field – When you look at the field you’ll see a bunch of lines, some artwork in the grass at either end along with some posts at either end. Here’s the quick and dirty…the playing field is 100 yards long. The middle of the field is marked by the 50 yard line. The artwork on the grass at either end is called end zone, where touchdowns are scored. The lines in between the 50 and each end zone are 10 yards apart. The upright goalposts at the end of each end zone are another way that teams can score points. We’ll talk about that momentarily.
Team Composition – Ok, so there are three groups of players on any given team: Offense, Defense and Special Teams. You’ll know you’re looking at the Offense when you see the Quarterback (QB) on the field. The QB is the one who receives the ball from the center and somehow figures out how and who to get the ball to on the team to score points. There are plenty of other positions on offense but the QB is the leader. Whatever team is playing offense, the opposing team is playing defense. Linebackers, the really big guys, play on defense along with several other key positions. That brings us to Special Teams; basically these are the guys who do everything else, like kicking the ball for a field goal or the guys who go running down the field to tackle the other team at the start of a play.
Making it Down the Field – At the start of a play you’ll see a team kick the ball down the field to the other team. Someone on the other team will catch it and start running in the direction of the opposing team’s end zone until they get tackled. Once they get tackled, the offense for their team comes out to start pushing the ball down the field towards the opposing team’s end zone. Here’s how it’s done: a team has four “downs” (chances/plays), to make a “first down.” A first down is 10 yards. If a team doesn’t make it down the field at least 10 yards in four downs, then they have to turn the ball over to the other team. If a team does make it 10 yards within their four “downs” (chances/plays) then that is called a “first down.” This is truly a male sport because why they call the chances “downs” as well as the result a “down” is beyond me.
Scoring Methods – Points are earned on touchdowns, conversions, field goals or safety. Touchdowns worth 6 points and are earned when a player carries or catches the ball in the opposing team’s end zone. Conversions happen after a touchdown. Think of it as an automatic opportunity for a team to get extra points after they score a touchdown. The team can choose to go for 1 or 2 points on their conversion. One point if they kick the ball through the upright goal posts or two points if they run the ball in again from the 2-yard line. A field goal is another way a team can score. A team will choose this method of scoring if they are not close enough to make a touchdown at their fourth down. Field goal is made by kicking the ball through the upright goalposts for a total of 3 points. Last way to score is a safety. This happens during the beginning of a quarter (football has four quarters) when special teams is running down the field to tackle the opposing team. If they happen to tackle the opposing team inside that team’s end zone, then the team who tackled can earn 2 points.
Getting to the Superbowl – A team gets to the Superbowl by first winning their division (north, south, east, west) or being selected as a wild card team based on their season record. Once a team wins their division they play the winners of the other divisions in their conference until there is one team standing in each conference; a winner of the AFC and a winner of the NFC. Then those two teams meet head to head for the Superbowl.