Want to Sound Like a Football Expert Before the Super Bowl? Here's Our Handy Guide

Katherine Stinson - Author

Feb. 10 2022, Published 5:06 p.m. ET

Football players in a team huddle/
Source: Getty images

Are you pre-gaming your Valentine's Day plans with a Super Bowl party? Do you want to sound knowledgeable about first downs, touchdowns, and everything in between? Are you secretly more into Super Bowl snacks than quarterbacks? Don't fret. We've got you covered!

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We've compiled a handy guide on how to sound smart about football. Impress fellow Super Bowl party guests with your football expertise. Who knows? You might find yourself actually enjoying the game after learning more about it!

Joe Burrow, quarterback for the Bengals.
Source: Getty Images
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What two teams are playing in Super Bowl 2022?

The two teams facing off in Super Bowl 2022 are the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals have made it to the Super Bowl twice in the past. In 1981 and 1988 the Bengals lost the Super Bowl to the San Francisco 49ers. The Rams won one Super Bowl in 2000, against the Tennessee Titans.

You might've heard the name Joe Burrow in the news recently. Joe is the quarterback for the Bengals. The quarterback for the Rams is Matthew Stafford.

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What is a first down? Why do teams want to get a first down?

Every football team's primary goal is to advance across the field so they have a chance to score a touchdown. However, a team doesn't have an infinite number of attempts to advance across the field.

When a team has possession of the football, they have four chances (downs) to advance the ball. If they advance the ball 10 yards or more on any of those four downs, the count restarts, and they go back to a first down. If they don't make it to 10 yards after four attempts, the other team gets the ball. Then they get their chance to advance!

Extra note: The team possessing the ball has a chance to punt the ball on their fourth down.

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A football goal post
Source: Getty Images

Why are football games so long?

Every football game has four 15-minute quarters. So how does that translate to games that sometimes last two or three hours? In addition to commercial breaks from the broadcasters, teams get three timeouts per half.

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So the Rams and Bengals will each get three chances for timeouts in the first 30 minutes of the game, and then again in the second 30 minutes of the game. However, if a team doesn't use all three timeouts in the first half, they are not allowed to carry them over to the second half. Timeouts are two minutes each.

What's the deal with penalties?

You've probably witnessed at least one instance of someone watching a football game and getting angry when a referee penalizes a team. Penalties can cost teams yards on the field. So why would a player get a penalty?

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One of the easiest ways for a player to get a penalty is by engaging in unnecessary roughness. Typically, this occurs when one player makes helmet-to-helmet contact with another player. Basically, striking a fellow player in the head, even on accident, is a huge no-no.

Players can be fined or even ejected from the game for this! Another way to get a penalty? If a player takes his helmet off mid-game (maybe to celebrate scoring a touchdown), they can get flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.

A football player attempts to catch the ball.
Source: Getty Images
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What does a quarterback actually do?

Everyone automatically thinks of the quarterback as the leader of a football team, but what are their actual responsibilities? Think of the quarterback as the captain of a football team's ship. When a team huddles before engaging in a play, the quarterback will call what play the team is about to make.

You've probably heard something along the lines of, "Blue, 42, HIKE." During the team's play, the ball is hiked to the quarterback, who then decides who to pass the ball or run to complete the play.

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What are the other positions on the team? There is the left tackle (an offensive role), the center (offense), the middle linebacker (a defensive role), the safety (defense), the defensive end (defense), and the wide receiver (offense).

At the end of the day, don't worry about sounding like a football expert. As long as you get these basic facts down, you'll certainly sound smart at a Super Bowl party! And remember, football games are meant to be fun.

The L.A. Rams face off against the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday, Feb. 13 on NBC. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. EST.

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