The Super Bowl is around the corner. That's right- everyone's favorite time to either give in to their love of football, or be every football lover's worst Super Bowl party enemy and say "I'm just here for the commercials. Oh my word, they are SO FUNNY". If you see a reflection of yourself in the latter person, this is your year. Instead of being that person, you can be one of the people who actually understands the basics of the program you're watching. I just want you to be able to understand the bare bones of the game so you aren't that person who says "YEAHHHH!!! Oh. Wait. Is that a good thing?". You know the person.

It's time to take 5 minutes of your life to learn the very basics of what's going on while you're staring blankly at the TV for more than half of the 3 hours you decided you should spend watching commercials that you can watch on YouTube the next day. All while ruining football for all the people who actually do care about it by talking during the football and yelling "BE QUIET!!!!" when COMMERCIALS come on.

P.S. Seriously, don't be that person. We don't talk over your shows and explain how silly it is to care about the show and how little sense it makes and then have the nerve to tell you to shut up when the ads are on.

Critical Game Basics

The 3 Platoons

Offense: Tries to score

Defense: Tries to prevent them from scoring and take the ball away from the opposing offense

Special Teams: Handles situations like any form of kick

Positions to Know

Quarterback - Nearly always is the one who throws the ball

Wide Receiver - The ones who are generally on the outside of the "line" and run down the field to catch the ball from the quarterback. Hence "receiver". They receive the ball.

Running Back - Lines up next to or behind the quarterback and is the one the quarterback may hand the ball to.

Linemen- The guys who make up the "lines" of guys in the relative middle of the field.

Linebackers- The guys who line up behind the defensive linemen in the middle of the field, but before the secondary.

Secondary- The people on defense who are farther back and/or to the side and generally are trying to prevent wide receivers from catching the ball. Both the safeties and the corners are a part of the secondary.

American Football Positions
Credit: By Kainaw (In English Wikpedia.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Football Offensive and Defensive Positions

Play Terminology to Know

Complete Pass- Someone threw the ball, and a member of his team caught it.

Incomplete Pass- I feel like this is obvious after the previous definition… It's when nobody catches a thrown ball and the play is now over.

Turnover - When one team takes possession of the ball from another

Fumble - When a player drops a ball after having possession of it. Now anyone can pick up the ball and the play continues. This can result in the opposing team picking up the ball, resulting in a turnover.

Interception - Someone threw the ball, and a member of the opposing team caught it. Now the other team has possession of the ball (their offense gets to come out).

Scoring System

Touchdown (6 points + chance for 1 or 2 more points)- When an offensive player controls the ball and brings it into the end zone. (the painted sections at the ends of the field). Almost always the team then goes for the "extra point", which is a very short field goal (described below) for 1 extra point. Sometimes the team goes for the "two point conversion" where they basically have to score a touchdown again in one play from very close to the end zone.

Field Goal (3 points)- when the special teams kicks the ball through the goal posts (you know, the big yellow things) NOT after a touchdown but from wherever the offense advanced the ball to on their drive.

Safety (2 points)- This is pretty rare. BUT, this is when a player is tackled in his own end zone rather than the other teams' (which would have been a touchdown).

After any score, EXCEPT a safety, the team who scored the points then has to kick off the ball to the other team. For a safety, the team who scored the 2 points also gets to receive the ball.

Field Goal
Credit: By Keith Allison (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Field Goal Attempt

Football Playing Basics

The offense has 4 "downs" (plays) to go 10 yards down the field (this can change due to penalties, but that's getting into more than approximate knowledge). These are called 1st down, 2nd down, 3rd down and 4th down.

If the offense does not either get the 10 yards to get a "1st down" (meaning now they get another 4 downs to go another 10 yards), score, or punt the ball to the other team after 4 downs, the other team receives the ball where on the field the offense left it. This is called a "turnover on downs". This is why if it is fourth down, the team usually kicks a field goal if they are close enough to the end zone, or punts it away to the other team.

Why punt? Because it's better to make the team have to go 90 yards to score a touchdown than making them only have to go 30. And obviously you want to take all measures to make the other team not score.

So, "1st and 10" means that it is first down, and the offense has another 10 yards to go down the field before receiving another "First down". "2nd and 5" means it is now second down and the offense still needs 5 more yards until they get a "First down".  So on and so forth.

You know that blue line on TV? That's the line of scrimmage. The yellow one? First Down. 


So there are the very basics. At least that should give you enough to be able to at least have a slight appreciation for the biggest sporting event in all of America. Before you argue, Super Bowls account for 19 of the 21 most watched sporting events in US history. They also account for the 5 most watched broadcasts of any kind in US history. You want to compare to baseball? The most watched baseball world series? 36.370 Million. The most watched Superbowl? 168 million. That's 4.6x more. Don't let the names fool you, football has totally taken over as America's Game.

Finally... GO BRONCOS!!! United in Orange.