To you, this week is important mainly because it's only four days long due to Labor Day.
But to millions of other Americans, and probably to many of your close friends and loved ones, this week means the end of a national nightmare. FOOTBALL SEASON IS BACK.
Yes, we've had a couple weeks of pre-season games, but watching those games is kind of like eating a veggie burger when all you want is a triple bacon cheeseburger. It fills you up, sure, but it does nothing to actually satisfy you. The NFL regular season is when football fans can let out a collective sigh of relief. Your Fantasy Football season starts, your favorite team starts their road to the Super Bowl. Hell, for NFL lovers, today is when LIFE starts.
So, if you happen to be a football novice, but you don't want to be completely in the dark while watching football with your friends, family, significant other, etc., we are here to help! We asked our fellow E! Online staffers the questions they have about the NFL and professional football so we could help turn noobs into...less noobs. Look, if you want to become an NFL expert and get in-depth analysis, you're at the wrong site. You want ESPN for serious sports coverage.
However, if you want to learn the basics and some tidbits that will help you better enjoy the games, we can totally do that. So here are the questions we got asked the most about the NFL. Read up and get ready for some football!
Explain to me in the simplest possible terms what a first down is.
That's the question we got the most. No one really knew what a down was or why they were important. But if you can figure out downs, you can enjoy a football game, because teams live and die by 'em.
The bare-bones explanation of how a football game is played goes like this: Each time a team is on the field attempting to score, it's called a "series." During each series, a team has four downs (or chances, to make it simpler) to go 10 yards, either by throwing the ball or handing it off to a running back who will carry it. That's how the team moves down the field.
If the team goes 10 yards, they get to start all over again with four brand news downs/chances. When you hear "first down," that means the team successfully went the 10 yards and gets a new set of downs. A first down is a good thing for the offense.
When you hear something like "second and 5," that means the team is on their second down/chance, and they have five yards still to go to make it the 10 yards.
If the team on offense doesn't go 10 yards in four plays, they punt the ball back down the field (that counts as a down, so teams usually do this after the third down) and then the other team has their chance. And of course, there are multiple things that happened during downs that can change the game in an instant: fumbles, interceptions and penalties, for example.
So basically, a team moves down the field using up their downs/chances in an attempt to get that touchdown or at least get close enough for a field goal.
Why do games take so long? Why does gameplay stop so often?
Football games take so long because the clock stops all the damn time. If a player goes out of bounds, if there's an incomplete pass, if there's a penalty…those all stop the clock. Plus there are time-outs. And injuries. So yeah, quarters are only 15 minutes long but that clock doesn't run continually like in soccer games.
Which team has the most super bowl wins?
Pittsburgh Steelers. And Steelers fans usually will be the first to tell you that fact. The Dallas Cowboys also have lots of Super Bowl wins (5) but they haven't been to the big show since 1995. The New England Patriots have 4 rings, but if you ask a non-Pats fan, they'll probably tell you those wins aren't real for a couple reasons (Spygate, the tuck rule). Google those phrases and you'll get more info.
How many games are in the season?
16 games are in the regular season. The come the playoffs and finally…the Super Bowl!
What is a 2-point conversion?
Usually teams will kick a field goal after scoring a touchdown to give themselves one extra point. A touchdown is worth six points, so a field goal after the TD gives them seven points total on that drive. But often times a team will attempt to get into the end zone again after a touchdown by throwing or running the ball, and that will count for two points. It's much more difficult to get a two-point conversion than it is to kick a field goal, which is why it's riskier and teams usually go for the almost-guaranteed one-point field goal.
Why do they throw yellow flags on the field?
That's how a ref marks a penalty. Teams do not want to see those flags during a play. If you see a red flag thrown by a coach, that means he is challenging the ref's ruling on the field. Yes, they can do that. The ref will then review footage of the play he just called and either overturn his ruling based on something he did or didn't see, or he'll leave it as is.
What time does Carrie Underwood come on to sing her Sunday night Intro?
Sunday Night Football games start at 5:30 p.m. PT! Sing it with us: "I've been waiting all day for Sunday night…"
Why the tight pants?
What do the numbers they scream out before a play mean?
Those are called "audibles." They are basically play calls. Usually a quarterback chooses a play in the huddle before the offense lines up, but if he sees that the defense is set up differently and he wants to run a new play, they'll yell out a code for their team. If the QB sees something he wants his team to take notice of, he'll use those audibles for that, too. That's why you'll hear someone like Andrew Luck yell out a bunch of numbers and then one of his players will suddenly run behind him to the other side of the field. Luck just changed up his play. And they can use those crazy numbers and terms to trick the defense as well.
WHEN CAN WE STOP TALKING ABOUT DELFATEGATE?!
N E V E R. That subject will never die. People who hate Tom Brady and the Patriots will always bring it up, and Pats fans will never let anyone forget that Brady was the victim.
What are some things I can yell at refs to make it seem like I'm into the game?
"Damn it, ref! You suck!"
"Oof. That guy felt that tackle in his bones."
"Run, damn it. Run!"
"Throw the freaking ball!"
"What kind of tackle was that?!"
"That dude is overrated."
"That dude is so underrated."
"Nice balls, Brady!" (Deflategate jokes will go over well with anti-Brady/Pats people. Or you can just compliment his testicles. Either one.)
So hopefully you know enough about a game of football so that when you watch it with people, you aren't totally lost. But the best way to learn what the hell is going on is to watch lots of games and ask your buddies. If you have a willing teacher, just ask them whenever you don't understand something and they'll happily explain it.
Just be careful of your teacher. If they want to watch the game in peace, they will throw a bowl of nachos at you for asking too many questions. Not that we know anything about that…
(And Go Colts!)