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Super Bowl 411: Your Cheat Sheet to the Game

The latest update for Super Bowl 411 is written by Lindsay Podolak.

You’ve seen the Facebook updates every Sunday. You’ve listened in as your friends argued about the merits of each player, silently nodding in agreement. And now, the big day is finally here — the Super Bowl. More importantly, it’s the day of the Super Bowl party. You can’t wait to settle on your friend’s couch and watch the man with the ball … um … throw it to that other man so that he can kick it somewhere or other.

Okay, you don’t know much about football, do you? You’ve faked it this far — but can you make it through Super Bowl Sunday without stuffing a hot wing in your mouth every time someone asks you a question?

You can, because we’re here to help. Consider this your cheat sheet — a guide to what exactly is happening on the field, as well as some party etiquette tips. Play ball!

(Just kidding. That’s baseball talk.)

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| Rules | Super Bowl LII Teams | Fun Facts | Football Terms | Super Bowl Party Etiquette |


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What’s Going On?

A football game lasts for four quarters, generally about 15 timed minutes each. (The referees stop the clock if there’s a dispute on a play, or whenever there’s an incomplete pass or the ball lands out of play, so no, you will not be on your way home after an hour. More like three and a half hours.) The team with the ball gets four chances — downs — to advance the ball at least 10 yards. If they get to the opposite end of the field, they get the chance to score points. If they don’t move at least 10 yards forward, the other team gets the ball.

Teams score two ways: either by touchdowns, meaning a player runs the ball into the opposing team’s end zone, or catches the ball while in the zone (6 points), or by field goals, meaning a player kicks the ball between the opposing team’s goalposts (3 points). After scoring a touchdown, the team can either try for an extra point by kicking the ball between the goalposts, or try for a two-point conversion, which is more like a regular play. Note: The ball has to go over the lower crossbar and between the uprights on either side in order for a kick to count. Very specific.


Super Bowl LII: Who is Playing?

Once favorites like the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens were eliminated from the playoffs, it became anyone’s game to make it to the Super Bowl. But the February 2nd game — at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida — is now set. It now feature a clash between the top-seeded San Francisco 49ers and the second-seeded Kansas City Chiefs.

If you’re like me, you’re wondering how the heck you will tell the two teams apart? (Both the Chiefs and the 49ers sport red uniforms.) Don’t worry. For the big game the Chiefs are expected to wear their “home” jerseys, which are red; while the 49ers will have to wear their white “away” jerseys.

If Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes can perform like he has been all season– killing it with both his passing and rushing game– the Chiefs may just win their first Super Bowl in half a century. But it won’t be easy, given the 49ers suffocating defense plus a potential offensive explosion from their running back Raheem Mostert, who nabbed four touchdowns in the NFC Championship win over the Green Bay Packers. The 49ers are also suffering from a Lombardi Trophy drought. (The team hasn’t won one since 1994.)


Fun Facts About This Year’s Teams!

To keep those party-time discussions going between plays, here are some fun facts about the teams’ respective hometowns:

Did you know that Kansas City actually spans two states? Parts of the city are in Kansas and parts are in Missouri, including the Chiefs’ Arrowhead Stadium. If you want to be in two states at once, just stand on State Line Road which runs along the border of both states. It was in Arrowhead Stadium in 2014 that the Chiefs broke the Guiness World Record for loudest stadium with 142.2 decibels of noise.

Head 1,800 miles to the west and you’ll arrive at San Francisco, home to the Golden Gate Bridge, lots of fog, and more dogs than children. It’s also home to the infamous Alcatraz prison, which was once the only federal prison to offer hot showers to its inmates. The theory was that if the prisoners were acclimated to the hot water, they wouldn’t be able to survive an escape attempt in the frigid waters surrounding Alcatraz Island.

With two teams that have dominated throughout both the regular season and the playoffs, this Super Bowl has a great chance to be a close game with lots of action. Don’t miss the Halftime Show, either– Jennifer Lopez and Shakira will definitely be bringing it.


What Does It All Mean?

Super Bowl 411You may or may not hear some of these terms during the game (or the pregame, or the halftime analysis, or the postgame), so here’s a quick glossary.

Audible: The quarterback will “call an audible” to change a play at the last second, based on the positions of the defensive players, in order to confuse them. Also: what you do when you change your mind about something at the last second.

Bull rush: Pretty much what it sounds like – a defensive player trying to brute-force his way through the offensive player, instead of ducking around him.

Gridiron: Another name for the playing field. Because it looks like a gridiron. (The kind you cook on.)

Hail Mary: A last-second, last-ditch long throw attempt by a team to keep from losing. Usually doesn’t work, except for Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers.

Pigskin: Another name for the football. The balls were supposedly originally made out of the bladders of pigs and other animals, which appears to be where the name came from. These days, they’re made of cowhide and rubber.

Red zone: The area from the 20-yard line to the end zone, AKA a good spot for a player to try to score from.


What to Do on Super Bowl Sunday?

Super Bowl 4111. Basically, you will spend the day eating and not moving. It’s kind of like Thanksgiving, except no dining room table and (probably) no turkey. Dress comfortably.

2. Under no circumstances are you to walk in front of the TV during game play. That’s grounds for expulsion.

3. People also like to watch the commercials, so don’t block the TV during those either. In short, never walk in front of the TV for any reason.

4. Don’t cheer anything until you figure out which team your host is rooting for. Then cheer for those guys. It’s polite. (If you had a team of your own, of course you’d be cheering for them, but if you did, you wouldn’t be reading this article.)

5. Try not to park yourself right in front of the snacks for the whole game. Everyone deserves a turn.

6. During the halftime game analysis, nod sagely at whatever the announcers are saying, unless everyone else is making snide comments about them, in which case jump right in.

7. You’re not required to watch the halftime show. You’re not even required to like whichever musical act is playing. If you do, feel free to enjoy the show. But don’t sing along.

8. No Facebooking, Tweeting, Instagramming or Pinterest-ing instead of watching the game, unless you are following someone who is talking about the game. Funny cat videos are for later. (The Puppy Bowl and the Kitten Bowl are also for later. DVR them. Or watch them quietly in the bathroom.)

9. The couch today is prime real estate. Do not take up extra space. If you want to sprawl out, bring a beanbag chair along and plop yourself on the floor.

10. If you’re going to go the extra mile and wear a super-official team jersey, cut the tags off first. And scuff it up or something so it doesn’t look like you just bought it 20 minutes before you got there. No one likes a poseur.


What to Eat?

Everything! If you’re stuck on what to bring, remember, food people can eat with their hands without too much fuss optimizes the time they can spend staring at the TV. Like chips and dip, veggie platters, or crackers and cheese slices.