A bluffer’s guide to the Super Bowl

Super Bowl XLVI, or 46 for those who don’t do as the Romans do, sees the New York Giants take on the New England Patriots.

Sunday night’s game will be one of the most watched sporting events in the world. Millions of people across the globe will burn the midnight oil and jump on the Super Bowl bandwagon.

So how can a novice bluff their way through the bowl? Well, the first step is to learn the basics. The Super Bowl is the culmination of the American Football season.The American Football Conference champions take on the National Football Conference champions to decide who is champion of the National Football League.  The Patriots represent the AFC while the Giants represent the NFC. Merely knowing that there are two conferences is enough to convince most die-hard fans that you’re one of them.

Like any other game, the objective of American football is to get more points on the board and beat the other team. “The team with the ball have four attempts called downs, in which to advance the ball down the field toward their opponent’s end zone,” explains NFL fan Conor McKenna. “If they get those ten yards they get a first down and another four attempts. If they don’t, the other team gets the ball.”

When it comes to scoring, don’t confuse a touchdown with a try. It’s worth six points and is usually followed by a one-point kick or an attempt to run or pass the ball into the end zone for a two-point conversion. Field goals are worth 3 points and are generally taken if a team is within the opposition’s half and has made it all the way to fourth down.

The clock stops after an incomplete pass, when a player is tackled or when a player runs out of bounds. And as if that wasn’t enough, each team has three timeouts per half, which slow the game down even more. That’s why it can often take almost three hours to play a 60-minute game.

Got all that? Thought not. And to think, some people compare this game to rugby.

Educate yourself in the specifics of this year’s game. Nothing says “I’m an expert” like pointing out the obvious. The New York Giants and the New England Patriots met in February 2008 for Super Bowl XLII and underdogs New York walked away with the Vince Lombardi, America’s answer to Sam Maguire. The Giants have already played and beaten the Patriots this season.

Depending on whom you support, Super Bowl XLVI is the NFL’s alternative to The Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi.

George Morahan says that throwing in random statistics can also add to the air of expertise. “There are so many that nobody will be able to call your bluff,” he says. He’s a die-hard American football fan so he should know. Mention the fact that this season has been NY Giants quarterback Eli Manning’s best in 8 years. Drop the odd comment about Patriots wide receiver Chad Ochocinco playing so much better when he was still with the Cincinnati Bengals.

There’s nothing you can’t learn by typing some key words into a search engine.

Don’t ask where Tim Tebow is. The man and his post touchdown celebrations set Twitter alive this season, but the Denver Broncos were defeated by the Patriots in the playoffs. Leave the Miami Dolphins to Ace Ventura and don’t dare confuse the Giants with the New York Jets.

On Super Bowl Sunday it’s great to be American but this year’s Bowl isn’t without its Irish connections, especially in Boston and New York. It’s no surprise that New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin is an Irish-American. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady can also trace his Irish roots to Cork and Cavan and apparently even has the cúpla focal.

Game-time etiquette is also important. Always maintain a straight face when an unwitting commentator uses the word penetration. This is vital, especially when watching a game that’s all about getting the ball deep in the end zone.

Cheryl Flood has some idea as to what’s going on but in keeping with the rules of football etiquette, she always makes sure to shout “go all the way” at the top of her voice whenever there’s a run for a touchdown. All the way where? It doesn’t particularly matter.

And if all else fails just say you’re in it for eye candy. If you want something to look at then you should apparently look no further than Tom Brady, the NFL’s resident pretty boy. There’ll be bums in tight trousers and testosterone by the bucket load. Your other half will be too busy watching the game to notice you oogling the offensive line.

So learn a few facts, scream the word defence several times, mimic Denzel Washington in Remember the Titans and twenty-two, forty-three, HUT, you’re good to go on any given Sunday.

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