A beginner's guide to American Football

What's all the fuss about? A mobile guide to the Super Bowl...
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A beginner's guide to American Football

Get clued up before Super Bowl 50

In the United States of America, the land of the free and home of the brave, the Super Bowl (annual final of the NFL) is the biggest sporting event of the year. And since the mid-80s, the game has slowly started gaining popularity over here in Old Blighty.

But does the average Brit, swept up in all the excitement, really know what’s going on? If not, we’ve got a few tips to get clued up before the big game.

Before we dive into the rules – this is what’s going on, where you can watch it and who’s playing.

What’s actually happening?

The Denver Broncos are up against the Carolina Panthers (Panthers are favourites with odds at 2/5). The coverage starts at off at 22:50 GMT (14:50 local time at California’s Levi’s Stadium) on 7 February, and you can tune in on the BBC Two. If you’re not at home, or want to enjoy on your mobile or tablet, get the BBC iPlayer app, to watch the game live.

Coldplay will be playing the much anticipated half-time show, with support expected from Beyoncé as she sings on the latest album.

How to play

Right then, sports fans - understanding the game. It’s split into four fifteen-minute quarters, punctuated by a huge half-time show, quarter period stoppages, six time-outs per team, injury time and a handful of ad breaks. That’s a lot to get your head around, we know, but bear with us…

Each team is made up of eleven players. The aim of the game is to get your hands on the ball in the opposition’s end zone, scoring six points. Following a successful touchdown, you get to try for a conversion kick through the goal posts, securing one additional point. You can also score three points from a field goal (which you can choose to take at any time if you don’t think you’re going to get a touchdown), and two points by tackling a player in his own end zone. Got all that? Thought not.

Check out this dummies’ guide in the form of an iOS app to break up our explanation.

To move down the pitch and towards the end zone, the offensive team has four opportunities, or ‘downs’, to advance the ball at least 10 yards. If they manage this, they’ll gain another four downs.

If a player goes to ground, loses control of the ball, or a pass is intercepted, play is stopped. And that’s about the top and bottom of it.

NFL has invested some time in creating a very BuzzFeed-esque video for budding fans of the game, so check that out below for another run down.

Apps to get you in the mood

So, the Bud’s on ice and the chips and dips ready to go – you’re beginning to feel the spirit of our American cousins. But to put the icing on the cake, and really make you see red, white and blue, check out these apps.

Flick kick Flick Kick Field Goal
Free

Fancy yourself as a kicker? Try your hand at this flick to kick mobile game. It’s tougher than just swiping towards the posts, you have to take wind speed and power into account too.

Official NFL appNFL app
Free

To keep up to date with all the latest news stories, games, favrouite team, fixtures and results, check out the official National Football League app.

Madden NFLMadden NFL
Free

John Madden is to American football what Sir Steve Redgrave is to rowing. He’s synonymous with the sport, with his name being attached to the popular EA Sports franchise for decades. Build your own team, take on challenges from opponents and be the playmaker.

So there you go - you’re ready for the Super Bowl. Go America!

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