How to Watch an American Football Game on TV - dummies

How to Watch an American Football Game on TV

By Howie Long, John Czarnecki

In a way, television is the best way to watch a football game; you can see up close what’s happening on the football field, and you can watch TV replays of the big plays if you missed them the first time around.

Excellent football analysts add humor and insight to the game. They’re also good with a device known as a telestrator, which allows them to circle players on the screen or demonstrate how a certain play was successful by diagramming it on the screen.

[Credit: © Debenport]
Credit: © Debenport

Here are some tips to help you become a more savvy and informed viewer when you’re watching a game on television:

  • Start at the line of scrimmage. Look wide to see how many receivers you spot and where they’re located. Scan to see how many players are lined up on the defensive line and in the defensive backfield. Where and how the players line up gives you an indication of what the play may be.

  • Keep an eye on the game’s progress. In the upper corner of the television screen, check out what the down is, how far the offense needs to go for the first down, how much time is left on the clock, and what the score is. The score and the time left on the clock often dictate whether a team will run or pass.

  • Check the quarterback. If he’s positioned 5 yards behind the center, he’s in the shotgun formation, meaning there’s a 98 percent chance he’ll pass the ball. The other 2 percent of the time, the quarterback will drop back and then hand off the ball to a running back.

  • Look for movement among the linebackers and defensive backs. If defenders appear to be creeping toward the line of scrimmage, they’re probably going to either blitz the quarterback or fill all the running lanes to neutralize a run play.

  • Look at the defensive fronts, paying particular attention to the defensive tackles. If only three linemen are lined up close to the line of scrimmage, the defense expects the offense to pass the ball. If the defense has four down linemen on the field and the linebackers are within a couple yards of the line of scrimmage, the defense expects the offense to try to run.

  • Count the number of defensive backs. If more than four defensive backs are in the game, the defense is geared toward preventing a pass completion.