The 12 Posts of Playoffs : 1 Winner

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Now that the conference championships have been decided, we know the representatives from each conference: the Broncos will be representing the AFC and the Seahawks will be representing the NFC. This is weird because both teams were the #1 seeds for their conference. #1 vs. #1 in the Super Bowl happens practically never.

The Broncos and the Seahawks will face off at MetLife Stadium in NYC next Sunday to determine an ultimate winner. Which conference is most likely to come out on top? It’s a pretty even split. Since the merger in 1970, the NFC has won 25 titles and the AFC has won 22. It’s truly anyone’s game!

Next week is entirely devoted to getting you ready for the Super Bowl. The Surviving the Super Bowl Series is back and better than ever! Starting on Monday, we’ll go over the Basics of Offense, the Basics of Defense, the Basics of Special Teams, and have a quiz to test your knowledge. Then we’ll preview the Super Bowl with everything you’ll need to know about game day.

It’s going to be a wonderful week.

See you all on Monday!

The 12 Posts of Playoffs : 2 Conferences

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The NFL is split into two halves, called conferences: the AFC and the NFC.

Here’s how that works:

There is one league, the National Football League.

I feel like we’re about to say a pledge.

Ok, so one league. And as we just said above, there are two conferences within the National Football League: the AFC (American Football Conference) and the NFC (National Football Conference).

Quick history lesson: the NFC and the AFC used to be the NFL and the AFL (kind of, with different teams) – two separate leagues. True story. Long story short: the AFL joined the NFL in 1970 and the two become one, the NFL. (Now it really sounds like we’re at an official ceremony.) Though changes have been made to the teams and the divisions within each conference since the merger in 1970, the current setup has been in place since the 2002 realignment.

Ok, back to our regularly scheduled programming

Each conference (AFC and NFC) has four geographic divisions: North, South, East, and West. 4 teams x 4 divisions x 2 conferences = 32 teams.

Here’s a handy visual if you need one:

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The 12 Posts of Playoffs : 3 Units

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There are two obvious units on every football team: offense and defense. That’s because the other unit is kind of like the middle child of the family. Special teams is the unit everyone forgets about.

But each unit plays an important role – even special teams! Here’s the lowdown on each one.


Goal: To score. The quarterback gets the ball to a receiver, either by hanging it off or by passing, in an attempt to gain yardage (read about the down system here) and score points (read about scoring here).


Offensive Line (protects the quarterback, opens up lanes for running backs)

  • Left Tackle
  • Left Guard
  • Center
  • Right Guard
  • Right Tackle

Position/Skill Players (advance the ball down the field by running or receiving)

  • Running Backs
  • Tight Ends
  • Wide Receivers

Quarterback (orchestrates the offense, hands the ball off or throws it)


Goal: To score. Defenses score by taking the ball from the offense (read more about turnovers here). Their primary goal is scoring, their next goal is preventing the offense from scoring.


Defensive Line (puts pressure on the quarterback, stops running plays)

  • Defensive Tackles
  • Defensive Ends

Linebackers (defends front and mid sections of field)

Defensive Backs (Secondary) (defends back sections of field)

  • Cornerbacks
  • Safeties


Goal: To execute kicking plays effectively. Special teams is the unit on the play for all kicking plays.

Plays Involved:

  • Kickoffs (kicking off to the other team to start a new drive)
  • Punts (kicking to the other team to end your team’s drive)
  • Field Goals and Extra Points (kicking for points)

(Read more about special teams here.)

It’s wise to note that the offense and defense are comprised of players who play specifically for that unit. Special teams is mostly comprised of players who also play on other units (except for kickers – they only kick).

At the Water Cooler : Conference Championship Sunday

Oh, gang. What a Championship Sunday we had!!! It’s one thing to have two games that are surrounded by legitimate anticipation; it’s completely another thing to have two games that live up to that anticipation. And in my book, both of the games did. Let’s dive right in.

AFC Championship

New England Patriots at Denver Broncos (Broncos won, 26-16)

Really, how can you not be excited for Peyton Manning? Answer me that. The guy has overcome so much just to play again, let alone play again at a record-setting level. He’s one of the good guys, a walk-in Hall of Famer, and it’s just good for football (and football fans!) to have him playing in another Super Bowl. Way to go, 18.

As far as the game goes… it was also all about 18. He had a brilliant game. Plus, the Broncos defense held their own against the Tom Brady and the Patriots, and that’s no easy feat. The Broncos deserve this trip to the Super Bowl in every way.

NFC Championship

San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks (Seahawks won, 23-17)

As predicted, this was a tight race between two division rivals, a hard-hitting game to say the least. The Niners dominated the first half, holding the Seahawks to a mere 3 points at the half. But the Seahawks came back in the second half and caught some breaks from the refs and are on their way to the Super Bowl.

Wondering what to expect on the blog between now and Super Bowl Sunday? Good question! We’ll start by wrapping up the 12 Posts of Playoffs this week, dive headfirst into a hardcore overview of the basics next week, and do a little Super Bowl preview in case you need a quick reference guide for the game. By the time February 2nd arrives you’ll be so full of football wisdom you won’t know what to do with yourself.

Actually, when February 3rd arrives you really won’t know what to do with yourself.

But let’s cross those off-season bridges when we come to them. For now, we have a GREAT Super Bowl to look forward to and lots of learnin’ to do before then! See you all tomorrow!

The 12 Posts of Playoffs : 4 Quarters

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Here’s an easy but essential lesson in how football works.

Games consist of four 15-minute quarters. The 12-minute break in the middle of the game is called halftime (during the Super Bowl, it’s way longer, and it’s called Over the Top Entertainment). There are also two 2-minute breaks that occur at the end of the first and third quarters to allow the players time to switch ends of the field (remember this post about end zones?).

After the sides have rotated at the end of the first and third quarter play resumes as normal – the offense just picks up where they left off but on the opposite end of the field. However, the same is not true after the 2nd and fourth quarters. The end of the second quarter signals the end of the first half of football. After halftime, the team that did not kick off to start the game kicks off a whole new drive. It’s now the third quarter, the start of a new half. It doesn’t matter if you were a yard away from the end zone when time ran out before halftime: you’re out of luck! It’s a brand new half of football.

And, of course, after the 4th quarter the game is over, unless the game ends in a tie and goes into overtime.

Otherwise known as free football.

In overtime, if the team that possesses the ball first scores a touchdown on their first drive, they win. If they score a field goal, the other team gets the ball and has a chance to score. If they don’t, the first team wins. If they score a touchdown, they win. If they also score a field goal, the overtime period continues. If the first team doesn’t score at all on it’s first drive, the first team to score any points at all wins. During the regular season, overtime is one 15-minute quarter in which each team receives two timeouts and no challenges. During the playoffs, overtime will extend into as many quarters as needed until there is a winner.

The 12 Posts of Playoffs : 5 Offensive Linemen

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The offensive linemen are probably the most important and least appreciated group of players on the field. They are absolutely essential to everything that happens on offense! Without a solid offensive line, a team will have a hard time getting any points on the board.


We’ll get to that in a minute. First, let’s show you who these guys are and where they line up on the field.

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Ok, so the offense is on the bottom portion of this graphic, and the orange circles are the offensive linemen.

The offensive line is composed of five players:

The Center (C) is the guy who snaps the ball to the quarterback. He is found in the center (see what they did there?) of the five man offensive line. It’s important to know who the center is because he handles the ball on every play and is usually a key to the whole offensive system. He has to communicate flawlessly with the quarterback so he can communicate play calls and alterations with the rest of the offensive line.

The Left Guard (LG) is the guy who – you guessed it – is to the immediate left of the center. He is usually a good run blocker.

The Left Tackle (LT) is the guy next to the left guard. This is the player who protects the quarterback’s “blind side” – the side his back is toward – if he’s a right-handed passer. The left tackle is extremely important if you want your quarterback to be standing upright for the majority of the game.

The Right Guard (RG) is the guy to the right of the center – and just as a side note, I usually remember guards and tackles positions by remembering that they progress alphabetically from inside out: center > guards > tackles. He has a similar job description to the left guard, a combination of agility and run blocking.

The Right Tackle (RT) is the guy next to the right guard. He is usually another run blocker.

Collectively, these five players form the offensive line. Why are they so important? And what does it have to do with scoring?

First, they protect the quarterback. If there wasn’t an offensive line, the quarterback would be steamrolled every time he touched the ball. There would be no protection, no time for wide receivers to run down the field, no time for the quarterback to make reads and throw passes for touchdowns.

Second, the offensive line also plays a huge role in the running game. Remember how we talked about holes? The spaces in the offensive line where running backs run through? The offensive line opens up those holes as “running lanes” for running back to go through. Without lanes to go through, the running game would be a lot less effective. No running game means no run yardage gained, which means new downs will be a whole lot harder to come by.

For guys who don’t get a lot of credit, the offensive line sure does a lot on the field.