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NFL

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. 

Offense

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. 

Defense

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. 

NFL Positions

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. 

NFL Penalties

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.

Minor Penalties

Here are some of the more common penalties in the NFL: 

False StartWhen an offensive player moves before the ball is hiked to the quarterback.
EncroachmentWhen a defensive player moves over the line of scrimmage before the ball is hiked by the opposing team.
OffsideWhen any player's body is past the line of scrimmage when the ball is hiked.
Offensive HoldingWhen an offensive player holds a defensive player.
Defensive HoldingWhen a player on defense holds or tackles an offensive player that does not have the ball.
Delay of GameGoing past the allotted amount of time to run a play.
Unintentional Face MaskTouching an opposing player's face mask unintentionally.
Minor NHL Penalties

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 PasserWhen a defensive player hits the quarterback of the opposition when they have pased the ball.
Roughing the KickerAs Roughing the Passer, but against the Kicker.
Face MaskIntentionally grabbing an opposing player's face mask.
Personal FoulAn illegal or flagrant foul putting another player at risk. This is usually a late hit or illegal hit.
Helmet-to-Helmet CollisionA player using their helmet to hit another player's helmet.
Horse Collar TackleGrabbing a player by the shoulder pads, as well as jersey, from behind and yanking them down.
More Serious NHL Penalties

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. 

NFL Season 

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:

AFC Teams

EASTSOUTHNORTHWEST
Buffalo BillsHouston TexansBaltimore RavensDenver Broncos
Miami DolphinsIndianapolis ColtsCincinnati BengalsKansas City Chiefs
New England PatriotsJacksonville JaguarsCleveland BrownsLos Angeles Chargers
New York JetsTennessee TitansPittsburgh SteelersLas Vegas Raiders
American Football Conference Teams

NFC Teams

EASTSOUTHNORTHWEST
Dallas CowboysAtlanta FalconsChicago BearsArizona Cardinals
New York GiantsCarolina PanthersDetroit LionsLos Angeles Rams
Philadelphia EaglesNew Orleans SaintsGreen Bay PackersSan Francisco 49ers
Washington Football TeamTampa Bay BuccaneersMinnesota VikingsSeattle Seahawks
National Football Conference Teams

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. 

NFL Betting Lines

Strategy and Tactics 

There are many different strategies and tactics for an NFL game. As stated before, you can pass the ball or run the ball. Some teams are better at those things, or they can be a better defensive team. 

There are also many different strategies and tactics depending on where a team is on the field and how much time is left in the game or the half. The strategies and tactics come from the coaches of a team, mainly the head coach and offensive and defensive coordinators. 

History of the NFL 

In 1920, the American Professional Football Conference was established, and in 1932, it changed its name to the NFL. In the first year of the NFL playoffs in 1932, there were eight teams in the league. These were the Chicago Bears, Chicago Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, Boston Braves (now the Washington Football Team), Portsmouth Spartans, Staten Island Stapletons and Brooklyn Dodgers. 

The NFL's Original 8 in the 1944 season was the Giants, Bears, Cardinals, Packers, Lions, Redskins, Eagles and Steelers. From 1944 to 1969, the Rams, Browns, 49ers, Vikings, Saints, Falcons, Cowboys and Colts joined the league coming from rival leagues. 

AFL Established

In 1960, the American Football League (AFL) was established and rivaled the NFL in popularity. The league got solid TV contracts and drafted some of the best players. 

The two leagues merged in 1966, but it would not take full effect until 1970. In 1966, the first Super Bowl was held between the NFL and AFL. The NFL won the first two Super Bowls, but the AFL won the next three. 

After 1970, the merger took effect, and the NFL was then changed into two conferences, with NFL teams forming the NFC and AFC teams forming the AFC. 

In 1976, the Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were added, so the league had 28 teams. The Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars were awarded franchises in 1993. 

In 1996, the Baltimore Ravens had their first season after owner Art Modell moved his team from Cleveland. While he was allowed to take players, coaches, and staff, he could not take the Browns name and history, and after a three-year hiatus, the Cleveland Browns resumed play in the NFL as an expansion team. 

The Houston Texans joined the league in 2002 after the Houston Oilers had moved to Nashville and become the Tennessee Titans five years earlier. 

Team Performance

In the history of the NFL, the Patriots and the Steelers have the most Super Bowl wins with six apiece. They are followed by the Cowboys and 49ers with five wins apiece, and the Packers and Giants with four Super Bowl wins each. 

As of 2020, the teams that have never won the Super Bowl are the Bengals, Bills, Browns, Cardinals, Chargers, Falcons, Jaguars, Lions, Panthers, Texans, Titans and Vikings. Out of those teams, the Browns, Jaguars, Lions and Texans have never reached the Super Bowl. 

NFL Hall of Fame 

The names of the best NFL players are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which is located in Canton, Ohio. The Hall of Fame opened in 1963, and not only are players enshrined there but also coaches, franchise owners, and front-office personnel. 

Any person that is elected into the Hall of Fame has a golden bust of them at the venue. As of 2020, there are 348 members of the exclusive club. 

While there is much debate over who the greatest player of all time is, many consider quarterback Tom Brady to be that player. He is still active as of 2020 and has six Super Bowl rings, all while a member of the New England Patriots. 

Other players that are often in the conversation of being the GOAT (greatest player of all time) are wide receiver Jerry Rice, running back Jim Brown, quarterback Joe Montana, and linebacker Lawrence Taylor. 

To celebrate the league's 100th season, even though the official NFL did not start until 1932, NFL.com put out the much anticipated NFL 100 All-Time Team. 

Distinctive Elements 

When it comes to distinctive elements, one of them for the NFL has to be the physicality of the game. The NFL is the top football league in the world where some of the best athletes face off in a game that can be quite brutal in its intensity. 

There are hard hits in every game, and injuries are common. In the last 10 years or so, there have been many rules set in place in the NFL to try to ensure the safety of their players and to make the game less dangerous.

Speed and strength are prevalent in NFL games. With many different positions for players on the field, they all have different skill sets. For example, wide receivers are fast and quick players. But offensive linemen are huge guys that are usually over 300 pounds playing in that they call the "trenches."

With football being the most popular sport in America and the NFL being the top football league, the press coverage of the league is extensive. Not only is there coverage of the game itself but on all aspects of the NFL. This includes the NFL draft and NFL playoffs through to NFL rumors and NFL power rankings. 

NFL news is always available, and even in the offseason, the NFL garners huge interest. The emergence of fantasy football has made a whole new way for fans to get involved in the game with the many fantasy leagues across the U.S. and even worldwide. 

Statistics 

There are many statistics in the NFL. Some are used by coaches for the purpose of developing the right strategy for particular opponents. Others are use by sports bettors looking to wager on NFL games.

Both team and player stats can help you out when you are handicapping NFL games for betting purposes. Some of the key team stats in the NFL are win percentage, passing and rushing yards per game, and passing and rushing yards given up per game.

If a team has a great passing attack and plays a team that has a poor pass defense, you can surmise that the team that can air it out will be successful doing it in that game. 

Checking out team stats is easy, as they can be found on sites such as NFL.com and ESPN.com. That goes for player stats as well. Typically the player stats that are key ones are the ones for the skill positions of quarterback, running back, and wide receiver.

The quarterback is the most important player on the field, and some of the key stats at that position are touchdown-to-interception ratio, passing yards per game, and completion percentage. 

For running backs, rushing yards per game and yards per game are key stats. For wide receivers, receiving yards per game and yards after the catch are important. 

There are also many defensive player stats such as tackles and sacks, both overall and per game. Kickers also have stats, and while not as vital as other stats, they can be important such as yards per punt, touchback percentage, and field goal percentage. 

All of the aforementioned stats are just some of the many for the NFL. However, they can be more important, and this can be especially the case when it comes to the betting angle. 

Popularity and Cultural Impact 

The cultural impact of the NFL is huge. Its biggest stars have very high public profiles. So much so that their reach goes beyond football into the world of endorsement deals and support for good causes. 

As a whole, the NFL does its part in helping create a positive cultural impact. For example, there is the NFL Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization representing all 32 NFL teams. The foundation focuses on the issues most important to the game, such as youth football, protecting players, and community involvement. Every team in the league also strives to help their local community. 

The granddaddy of all the NFL games is, obviously, the Super Bowl. The game itself is watched by hundreds of millions worldwide. But it is more than just the game. Super Bowl commercials and the famous halftime show are as eagerly anticipated by some as the play on the field. 

About Ayden Fahlstrom
Ayden Fahlstrom author profile

Ayden loves sports. There is no doubt about that. He is a walking calendar when it comes to the latest events in sports. He has grown into the passion of writing about them, and settled into his role as a writer after many freelancing jobs. He can write about any sport out there! This is the guy!

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