When Super Bowl Sunday begins this weekend, bars and parties will be filled with football fans, as well as those who come to just watch the commercials and halftime show. Any reason is a good one to celebrate the National Football League’s Championship game, but for those who know more about “Left Shark” than the teams competing this year, a little preparation may be needed to understand what’s happening on the field.

Super Bowl 50

Super Bowl 50 will be a matchup between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers. The Broncos will be the home team wearing white jerseys, while the Panthers will be the away team in black. The Broncos came out of the regular season with a record of 12 wins and 4 losses. The team is led by #18, Peyton Manning, who led the 2007 Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl victory. This is Manning’s second appearance in the Super Bowl with the Broncos and the fourth of his career. The Panthers, who came close to a perfect season, ended with a record of 15 wins and 1 loss. They are led by #1, Cam Newton, in his first Super Bowl appearance. The game will be held at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California and will be aired on CBS.

Football Basics

Football has far too many rules and regulations to learn in one weekend, but knowing the basics can go a long way. The game consists of two teams whose objective is to accumulate points by bringing the football across the field to their opponent’s end zone. Each touchdown consists of six points, with the option to then kick a field goal for one extra point, or to attempt a two-point conversion. In a two-point conversion, the ball is placed at the two yard line and the team has one play to get the ball in the end zone for an extra two points. The field between the two end zones is 100 yards long, but there are rules on how the team can get across the field.

At the beginning of each half and after each scoring play, one team kicks the football off to the other. The receiving team will try to run as far as they can with the ball until they are brought to the ground or out of bounds. The offense then has four attempts, or downs, to get the ball 10 yards, which resets each time the team gets past the 10-yard line. They can do this by carrying the ball or by the quarterback throwing the ball to players down the field. When watching the game on TV, the first down mark is a yellow line. When you hear 1st & 10, that means it’s the teams first attempt for the team to get to the yellow line and the ball is starting 10 yards away from it.

If the offense cannot move the ball to the yellow line after four attempts, the football will be given to the other team. When the offense is on their fourth and final down, they’ll most likely do two specific plays depending on their field position. If they are near the end zone, they will usually attempt a field goal, which consists of kicking the football between the two yellow goal posts inside the end zone. If the team is too far away to attempt a field goal, they will kick the ball down the field to the other team and make the distance between the ball and the end zone longer.

While these are the basics of the game, there are many rules that players need to follow which are policed by the referees. If a player is seen breaking a rule, the ref will throw a yellow flag on the field. The broken rule is announced after the play ends and common punishments consist of resetting the downs for the offense back to a first down or changing the balls position on the field.

With this basic knowledge you should be able to follow the game without asking a question every few seconds. Most importantly, when in doubt, listen to the game’s commentators. Their endless knowledge along with your newfound football savvy will keep you in the loop.