Know the Penalties

There are a multitude of different penalties that can occur during an NFL football game. However, many of them you will rarely see during an average game. Below I will briefly discuss 5 of the most commonly called penalties.

You can tell a penalty has been called when an official tosses his yellow flag onto the field. The official who threw the flag will communicate with the Referee. The Referee will then make the official announcement of the infraction.

False Start - A false start occurs when a player who has lined up for the play makes a movement simulating the beginning of the play prior to the ball being snapped.

Holding - This usually occurs on the offensive line while they are trying to protect the quarterback. As the name would imply it is illegal to grab on and hold any player that is not carrying the ball.

Pass Interference - It is legal to make contact with a receiver within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. However, if contact is made past 5 yards before the receiver has touched the ball, this is a penalty.

Face Mask - At any time it is illegal to put your hands on or grab and pull on an opponents face mask.

Encroachment/Offsides - While there are actually slight nuances that separate these two penalties, many people consider them the same. This occurs when a player (most often on the defensive side) crosses the line of scrimmage prior to the ball being snapped.

Know the Teams

There are currently 32 teams in the NFL.

These teams are divided into two conferences, the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC).

Each conference is divided once more into four divisions. These divisions consist of the AFC North, AFC South, AFC East, AFC West, NFC North, NFC South, NFC East, and NFC West.

The Teams in the AFC North include:
Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns
Pittsburgh Steelers

The Teams in the AFC South include:
Houston Texans
Indianapolis Colts
Jacksonville Jaguars
Tennessee Titans

The Teams in the AFC East include:
New England Patriots
New York Jets
Buffalo Bills
Miami Dolphins

The Teams in the AFC West include:
Denver Broncos
San Diego Chargers
Kansas City Chiefs
Oakland Raiders

The Teams in the NFC North include:
Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings
Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions

The Teams in the NFC South include:
Atlanta Falcons
Carolina Panthers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New Orleans Saints

The Teams in the NFC East include:
Washington Redskins
Philadelphia Eagles
New York Giants
Dallas Cowboys

The Teams in the NFC West include:
Arizona Cardinals
San Francisco 49ers
St. Louis Rams
Seattle Seahawks

Know the Schedule

There are 4 weeks of preseason games. The first string does not get a lot of playing time in these games and therefore they are not extremely popular with fans. These games are primarily used to scout new talent and get rookies acclimated to the NFL.

There are 17 weeks in the regular season. Each team will only play 16 games with one bye (off) week in the middle of the season.

Each team will play the other members of their Division twice during the season. This will always account for 6 of the 16 games. The other 10 games will change each year as determined by the NFL.

After week 17 there is the post-season or the Playoffs which lead up to the Super Bowl. This is a whole different animal to tackle. But I'll give you a brief overview.

Only 12 teams make it into the Playoffs; six teams from each conference. The surest way to make it into the Playoffs is to have the best record within your division. Aside from the four division winners the next two teams with the best record will take the remaining two spots.

The Playoffs are hard to get into, but make for some very exciting games.

Know His Team

Perhaps the most important thing you can do is know the team that your boyfriend, husband, or significant other is a fan of. At a very minimum you should know the name of the team he supports, but don't be afraid to go even further.

Learn the names of the players. You don't need to know the names of the entire 53 man roster, but you should know some of the key players. You should definitely know who the quarterback is. He touches the ball more than any other player and his name will be mentioned a lot whether he's good or bad. I would also recommend learning the starting running back and wide receiver as well as a key player or two on defense. If you watch a few games or even just highlights, you'll be able to pick up on the names you should know.

Learn the division. There are three other teams in your division and you will play these teams twice throughout the year. You see these three teams more than any other teams in the league. These tend to be huge rivalry games that the fans really get into. If you're looking for an exciting game to get you started, a division game would be a good choice.

Learn the traditions. Many teams have built great traditions throughout the years. Some of them may seem odd or a little out of place for a football game, but over the years, they become part of the game. The Green Bay Packers have cheeseheads and the Lambeau Leap. The Pittsburgh Steelers have the Terrible Towels. If your team is local, ask around. Somebody will know.

Learning more about his team also carries many fringe benefits. Now when football comes up in conversation with friends, you won't have to feel lost. You might start to recognize the names and descriptions of the game. Eventually, you might even start adding to the conversation.

You may also be amazed at how easy shopping for him gets once you know his team. You can buy the proper jerseys, hats, and other apparel. You can buy mugs, flags, and wall art of his favorite team or player. You can buy cheeseheads and Terrible Towels to support the traditions. The possibilities are endless.