About the NFL
The National Football League (NFL) is the top professional football league in the United States. Not only is the NFL the most popular of all the sports leagues in America, but it is also the biggest betting sport in the nation.
The season runs from September to February, culminating in the Super Bowl, where the winner gets the Lombardi Trophy and is the champion for the season.
Online Football Betting
The NFL is just as popular with sports betting enthusiasts as it is with pure football fans. For that reason, there is no lack of betting action on the sport. All online sportsbooks post odds for NFL games, and there are multiple betting markets to take advantage of.
On top of that, with the popularity of NFL games, most online sportsbooks will also offer bonuses and promotions for the NFL. This is especially common when the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl take place.
NFL Rules and Gameplay
In an NFL game, there are 11 players on the field for each team on the offense and the defense. The goal of the game is to score more points than the other team.
There are a series of downs, which are short individual plays from the line of scrimmage, which is where the ball is placed. The offensive team with the ball tries to score by getting in the end zone of the opposing team or kicking a field goal, which is kicking the ball through the uprights, which is a set of goalposts.
Substitutions can be made by each team after every down.
The offense can move the ball by running it or passing it, or they can kick it away to the other team, referred to as a punt, or attempt a field goal. The offensive team has four downs, or plays, to advance the ball 10 yards, and if they are successful, it is called a first down. The four plays to get 10 yards are then reset, starting at the point on the field where the team advanced to.
On the last play of the series, called the fourth down, the offensive team can go for the first down or punt the ball to the other team or attempt the field goal if they are close enough.
If the offensive team advances past the 10 yards on fourth down, they receive a first down, and the downs are reset again. If they do not, the opposing team takes over on offense at the point where the other team advanced the ball.
That is why many teams choose to punt on fourth down, as they can kick the ball deeper in the opponent's territory further away from the end zone, making it harder for that team to score.
The offensive team scores by advancing the ball into the opponent's end zone, where they are awarded six points. After a touchdown, the team that scores has the option to kick an extra point, which is kicking the ball through the vertical goalposts and is worth one point.
Or they can go for the two-point conversion, worth two points. They get one play from the two-yard line to try to get the ball into the end zone.
The defensive team attempts to keep the offensive team from scoring and advancing the ball 10 yards so that they can get the ball back to attempt to score. The defensive team can score a touchdown if the offensive team fumbles the ball and the defense recovers it and runs it into the end zone. The defense can also intercept a pass and run it into the end zone.
The defense can also score on a safety, which is tackling an offensive player while they are in the offense's own end zone. A safety is worth two points.
The defensive players stop the offensive players by tackling the offensive player with the ball or making them have their knee touch the ground. They also stop the offensive team by keeping them from catching the ball or catching it in the field of play.
There are many positions in the NFL on offense and defense. On offense, the skill positions are:
- Quarterback – Player that passes the ball.
- Running back – Player that runs with the ball
- Wide Receiver and Tight End – Player that catches the ball.
On defense, there is the defensive front and the secondary. The defensive front is the players near the line of scrimmage, while the secondary is the players that are further back.
On offense, there are the offensive lineman up near the line of scrimmage that protect their quarterback and try to open up holes in the defense so the running back can run the ball forward.
There are also the kickers, who attempt the field goals and extra points and kick the kickoffs, and the punters who kick the ball away to the opposing team after a set of downs is over.
After every score, the team that scored kicks off to the opposing team.
Every play starts with the two teams opposing each other, and the play begins when the center, part of the offensive line, hikes the ball to the quarterback.
There are many penalties, or fouls, that can be committed in the NFL by both the offensive and defensive teams. Depending on the penalty, the offensive or defensive team will be accessed a penalty of five, 10, or 15 yards.
After an offensive team commits a penalty, they are assessed the yards for the penalty and then start again, but the play may be replayed. For example, if a team is assessed a penalty of 10 yards on first down, the next play is also a first down, but now the team must advance the ball 20 yards to get another first down.
There are some penalties where there is a loss of down as well, so the team will assessed the penalty yardage, but they do not get to replay the down.
If a defensive team commits a penalty, the offensive team is given the yardage of the penalty. The ball movement forward may give the offensive team a first down, or the penalty may come with an automatic first down for the offense, depending on the penalty.
A pass interference penalty by the defense can be a costly one, as the defensive team can give up many yards. Pass interference is a penalty where the defensive player makes contact with the player trying to catch the ball downfield.
For example, if a player tries to catch the ball 25 yards from the line of scrimmage and the defensive player is called for pass interference, the offensive team gets the ball at the point of the foul, so 25 yards from the line of scrimmage.
Here are some of the more common penalties in the NFL:
|False Start||When an offensive player moves before the ball is hiked to the quarterback.|
|Encroachment||When a defensive player moves over the line of scrimmage before the ball is hiked by the opposing team.|
|Offside||When any player's body is past the line of scrimmage when the ball is hiked.|
|Offensive Holding||When an offensive player holds a defensive player.|
|Defensive Holding||When a player on defense holds or tackles an offensive player that does not have the ball.|
|Delay of Game||Going past the allotted amount of time to run a play.|
|Unintentional Face Mask||Touching an opposing player's face mask unintentionally.|
More Serious Penalties
The harshest penalties for 15 yards are given on plays where a player's health is at risk. Some of these penalties are as follows:
|Roughing the Passer||When a defensive player hits the quarterback of the opposition when they have pased the ball.|
|Roughing the Kicker||As Roughing the Passer, but against the Kicker.|
|Face Mask||Intentionally grabbing an opposing player's face mask.|
|Personal Foul||An illegal or flagrant foul putting another player at risk. This is usually a late hit or illegal hit.|
|Helmet-to-Helmet Collision||A player using their helmet to hit another player's helmet.|
|Horse Collar Tackle||Grabbing a player by the shoulder pads, as well as jersey, from behind and yanking them down.|
NFL Game Duration
Games in the NFL are 60 minutes long with four-15 minute quarters. After two quarters, there is a halftime of 12 minutes.
The team that kicked off first to start the game gets the ball kicked off to them after halftime to begin the third quarter. Every team has 40 seconds to run a play, or down, and if they go past that, they are given a delay of game penalty.
In NFL games, the field of play is rectangular and is 120 yards long, 100 yards from goal line to goal line, with each end zone measuring 10 yards, with the width of the field 160 feet.
There are 32 teams in the league, with 16 in the National Football Conference (NFC) and 16 in the American Football Conference (AFC). The top teams from each conference meet in the Super Bowl at the end of the year.
In each conference, there are four divisions of four teams apiece. Each team in the NFL plays 16 games in the regular season, playing each team in its own division twice and then 10 other games.
Here are all the teams in the NFL with conferences and divisions:
|Buffalo Bills||Houston Texans||Baltimore Ravens||Denver Broncos|
|Miami Dolphins||Indianapolis Colts||Cincinnati Bengals||Kansas City Chiefs|
|New England Patriots||Jacksonville Jaguars||Cleveland Browns||Los Angeles Chargers|
|New York Jets||Tennessee Titans||Pittsburgh Steelers||Las Vegas Raiders|
|Dallas Cowboys||Atlanta Falcons||Chicago Bears||Arizona Cardinals|
|New York Giants||Carolina Panthers||Detroit Lions||Los Angeles Rams|
|Philadelphia Eagles||New Orleans Saints||Green Bay Packers||San Francisco 49ers|
|Washington Football Team||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Minnesota Vikings||Seattle Seahawks|
After the regular season is played, the teams that won their respective divisions qualify for the playoffs. There are then three Wild Card teams that advance to the playoffs. These are the three teams that did not win their divisions but have the next best records in the conference.
For the NFL playoff schedule, 14 teams make the playoffs, with seven from each conference. There is then a single-elimination series of games, one for AFC and one for NFC, where the winners then face off in the Super Bowl.
In the NFL playoff schedule, the teams with the best records in the AFC and NFC receive byes in the first round of the playoffs. Typically, a team with the better record hosts the playoff games up to the Super Bowl, which is always held at a neutral site.