Coral presents a newbies guide to the NFL
The National Football League is the most popular sports league in North America, and is rapidly gaining a following among sports fans around the world. With 32 teams based in cities across the United States, and games being regularly played in cities like London and Toronto, the NFL has truly become an international game.
However, with a complex system of scoring and a sophisticated rulebook, understanding American Football at first glance can be challenging, even for the hardcore sports fan.
Here are some quick pointers for sports fans who will be spending their Sundays following gridiron action for the first time.
Teams and Conferences
The NFL is comprised of 32 teams, aligned into two conferences, the National Football Conference (NFC) and American Football Conference (AFC). The conferences are comprised of four divisions, North, South, East, West; with each containing four teams.
The NFL season kicks off in September, running for 17 weeks, with each team playing 16 games.
There are two primary ways of scoring points in the NFL, touchdowns and field goals. A touchdown is scored when a team successfully moves the ball into the opposing team’s end zone, either by pass or by run. The scoring team is awarded six points, and the opportunity to add a single point by kicking the ball through the uprights in the end zone.
Teams are awarded three points for a field goal, which is scored by kicking the ball through the uprights from the line of scrimmage. This is often attempted when a team has been unable to gain the 10 yards in four attempts (or downs) necessary to maintain offensive possession of the ball.
League system and play off’s
Each of the eight division winners earn a berth in the NFL playoffs, with the two teams in each conference with the next best regular season records earning Wild Card playoff berths.
In the first weekend of the NFL playoffs, known as Wild Card weekend, the top two teams in each conference get a bye, while the two remaining division winners in each conference play-off against the Wild Card clubs in a single-game elimination format.
The winners progress to the Divisional playoffs the following weekend against the division winners who had enjoyed byes on Wild Card weekend. Again, a single-game elimination format narrows the playoff field to four, who play off in the NFC and AFC Conference Championship games.
The Super Bowl
Two weeks later, the Conference champions then meet in early February at the Super Bowl, which is fast becoming one of the most popular single sporting events in the world. Last year saw the Seattle Sea Hawks beat the Denver Broncos in front of over 85’000 people. Many pundits are already tipping them to repeat the feat this year.
Remember to check out all our markets for tonight’s opening games