For many people, fall means more than pumpkin spice lattes and jack-o-lantern carving. It means touchdowns and tailgates and cheering for your home team. Football season is magical for those who follow it, but it can be a bit confusing for the less-sport-inclined. Whether you’re an avid fan or a football newbie, we’ve got you covered in our guide to the season.


Blitz: When some of the defensive players rush at the quarterback before he has a chance to throw the ball.

Down: Begins with the snap and ends when a player has been tackled, a touchdown has been scored or the ball goes out of bounds. Each team has four downs to get a first down.

End zone: The area on either end of the field where touchdowns are scored.

Extra point: You can try for an extra point immediately after your team has scored a touchdown.

Field goal: An attempt to score three points by kicking the ball through the yellow upright poles.

Fumble: When a player accidently drops or loses possession of the ball. Not good.

Hike: The hand-off from the center to the quarterback that begins a play.

Interception: When one team’s quarterback throws the ball and the other team catches it. Also not good.

Line of scrimmage: An imaginary line that players are not allowed to cross until the play has begun. It’s based on where the ball landed when the prior play ended.

Pass Interference: When a defensive player unfairly gets in the way of the receiver catching the ball.

Tackle: The very aggressive move of bringing the player with the ball to the ground to complete a play.

Yard line: The distance from the nearest end zone. The 50-yard line is the middle of the field with numbers decreasing from 50 to 0.

Key Players

Center: The one who spikes it to start the play

Quarterback: Tom Brady, duh.

Running Back: The ones who get the ball from the quarterback and run it down the field until they’re tackled or they score.

Wide Receiver: The ones who catch passes.

Tight end: Act both as linemen (blockers) and receivers. Their job varies based on the play.

Defensive Line: Made up of defensive tackles and defensive ends. These players do the bulk of the tackling.

Linebacker: Have many different responsibilities including covering receivers, rushing the passer and defending against a run.

Cornerback: The player who covers the wide receiver.

Safety: The last line of defense.

Thanksgiving Games

Once the parade ends, the football begins. Be sure to tune into these big games to get your fix of Turkey Day touchdowns.

The day starts with a game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Detroit Lions at 12:30 p.m. in Detroit.

The Panthers and Cowboys are both first in their respective divisions, so make sure to catch the game at 4:30 p.m. It'll definitely get intense. If nothing else, at least pay attention at Cowboys Stadium halftime to watch Mr. Worldwide take the stage. There is nothing like a good Pitbull jam sesh to bring the family together.

The Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers have always been rivals, so they get the last slot at 8:30 p.m. They will be playing in Green Bay.