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A Beginners Guide to the NFL

We're just days away from "the greatest show on turf", so we have broken down everything you need to know about American Football, including key rules, player positions and the aim of the game.

What is the NFL Championship?

The NFL Championship is a yearly event and is known as one of the biggest sporting fixtures in the world. It is the annual Championship game for the National Football League (NFL) and is the culmination of the 17-game regular season and the post-season playoffs.

Since the merger of the AFL and NFL, the NFL Championship pits the champions of the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC) against each other.

What are the rules of American Football?

If you are new to the sport of American Football, then do not worry. Such is the fanfare surrounding the NFL Championship, you can still enjoy the action with limited knowledge.

For those that want to understand a little more, we will make it as simple as possible ahead of February's battle in Arizona.

Each game usually consists of four 15-minute quarters, but unlike in football, the clock is paused with each stoppage in play, effectively meaning there is no need for stoppage time at the end of the game.

However, if the game is level after the full-time hooter, then overtime is played for an additional 15 minutes to decide the winner. Each team is split into three units; an attacking unit, a defensive one, each consisting of 11 players and a special team outfit.

The team that has possession will try to move down the field and score points, either via touchdowns or field goals.

The defensive unit will try to stop this from happening, either by tackling the ball carrier, intercepting passes, or causing the opposition to fumble the ball.

The team in attack has to travel a minimum of 10 yards with the ball every time they have possession, and they will get four attempts to do so.

Each attempt is known as a "down". In a nutshell, if a team makes 10 yards, they then get more four downs to progress further down the field.

Throughout the TV coverage, you may notice on the screen it will say "1st and 10". That means they are on their first down and have 10 yards to make.

Should they make five yards, it will then say "2nd and five", and so on. If they fail in their quest, most teams would then kick the ball to the opposition on their fourth down to preserve field position, using their special teams unit to do so.

How do teams score points in American Football?

The aim of American Football is, like most team sports, to simply score more points than the other team.

A touchdown is worth six points and is scored when a team crosses the opposition's goal line into the end zone, either via a pass or a run.

Should they score a touchdown, they can then try to add an extra point via a field goal, which means they kick the ball through the uprights, which is the exact same process in rugby.

Two points can be earned if a team carries or throws the ball into the end zone again. If a team feels they can reach the uprights with a kick but not score a touchdown, they may opt for a field goal which is worth three points.

Teams can also secure points via a safety, which occurs when a member of the defensive unit tackles an offensive player in their own end zone. These are uncommon, but anything can happen in American Football, so watch out for them!

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Key positions to watch out for in American Football...

The quarterback is known as the team leader, and he will be the one throwing the ball or handing it off to his team-mates in case they decide to run with possession.

Some quarterbacks are known to "stand in the pocket" before they pass the ball, but to do this, they need to be protected by their offensive line.

Five offensive linemen will stand in formation and try to block the defence, allowing the quarterback more time to throw the ball. Alongside the quarterback, there is then a running back, who can either advance with the ball as a runner or receive the ball from a pass.

Tight Ends line up next to the offensive line, and they can either be used as extra blockers for the running back or become options for a pass.

The job of a wide receiver is simple, evade your marker and get free to catch the ball. The wide receivers often stand towards the touchline, hence their name.

On defence, the bigger players are known as defensive linemen, and it is their job to try and sack the quarterback as long as they advance past the offensive line.

Linebackers play just behind this line, and they are usually the leaders of the defence as they can see the field. They have two jobs, tackle the opposition and intercept the ball should it be thrown. In the last line of defence, there are cornerbacks and safeties.

The cornerbacks often try to man-mark the wide receivers, while safeties stand further back and assess the field before making their decision.

As well as offensive and defensive units, each team will have a special team lineup.

This unit steps onto the field for kick-offs, extra point tries, field goals and punts. While they may be on the field for a limited time, they can often make the difference in a close game.

When is the NFL Championship 2023?

The 2023 edition of the NFL Championship will take place in Arizona on Sunday, 12th February 2023.

What time does the NFL Championship start?

This year's NFL Championship will start at 23:30 GMT, while in the USA, fans can tune in from 18:30 Eastern Standard Time.

Where is the NFL Championship and who will compete in this year's event?

The 2023 NFL Championship will take place at State Farm Stadium in Phoenix, Arizona. It is the home of the Arizona Cardinals, who failed to reach the 2023 playoffs this season.

The Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles will compete for this year's NFL Championship in Arizona.

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