A Beginner’s Guide to American Football

This week sees the return of the US’ favourite pastime of football, no not that one the other one, and we at B Sunglasses Towers can’t wait! The National Football League, or NFL for short, begins with a Thursday night match-up between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the reigning Superbowl champions the New England Patriots. To help you out we’ve put together a beginner’s guide to American football. 

The basics:

  • Each team has 11 players on the field of play, chosen from a squad, roster, of 53 (only 46 can be stripped and named for the game).
  • The roster is split up between offense, defence and special teams.
  • The aim of the game is to get the ball in the opponent’s endzone.
  • Teams take turn in possession of the ball; the team who has the ball has their offense on the field and the team without have their defence on the field.
  • The offense has 4 attempts, downs, to try and move the ball 10 yards. If they make the yards then they have another 4 downs. If they fail to gain 10 yards they either have to punt the ball or, if they are within distance, they can attempt a field goal.
  • Scoring: 6 points for a touchdown, extra points can be earned after a touchdown, the team can opt to kick (1 point) or throw (2 points), 3 points are awarded for a field goal, 2 points for a safety (when a member of the offense is tackled with the ball in his own end zone).

The Teams:

The NFL is made up of 32 teams and is split into two conferences, the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC), which are then split into a North, East, South and West division. The teams are as follows:

NFC North: Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings.

NFC East: Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants.

NFC South: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

NFC West: Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams.

AFC North: Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals.

AFC East: New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills.

AFC South: Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans.

AFC West: Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs.

How do teams reach the Superbowl?

  • Each team plays their divisional rivals home and away each year, along with 10 other predetermined fixtures.
  • The teams with the best records in each division, along with the two teams with the next best record (wildcard teams), qualify for the conference playoffs.
  • The winners of each conference playoff, The NFC and AFC champion, meet in the Superbowl.


NFL photo
Photo by PDA.PHOTO

Now all that’s left to do is choose your team, settle down every Sunday with some chip and dip, and follow them all the way to the Superbowl!