The Super Bowl–and the postseason leading up to it–is one of the most exciting times of the year for football fans. This is where months of hard work finally are cashed in over the course of 60 minutes of playing time. One team walks away the Super Bowl Champion and the other team walks away as the team that played the champs.
Watching the Super Bowl is the peak of the NFL fan’s season, but it’s just a tiny part of the overall picture. There is something going on in the NFL starting the moment the Super Bowl ends, going through preseason, and extending to the postseason and the big game itself. And while the Super Bowl might be the most visible and highly publicized part of the season, there are a lot of things and events that lead up to it. Let’s start by looking at the beginning of the playoff structure.
Wild Card Games
Every season, more teams make the postseason than will ever make it to the Conference Championship games. The first step is the Wild Card games. These are held in both the AFC and NFC and consist of the teams that just barely made it out of the regular season. These are good teams, but sometimes they had a rough patch in their season, or perhaps it took them a little bit longer to find their groove working together. Either way, the Wild Card weekend is the first big step toward the Super Bowl. It’s always exciting to think that these teams will have a shot at winning it all.
There are a couple weekends of playoff games before the two teams going up for each conference championship positions are decided. These are tense games and upsets can happen with ease. This is the point in the year where casual fans find themselves being drawn back to the game.
The top two remaining teams from each conference square off in the Conference Championship. Traditionally, these teams have been pretty equal in talent, but once in a while you will have a team that’s a huge favorite. The favorite doesn’t always win, though, and that’s part of what makes playoffs so exciting. Because it’s such a small sample size, variance can play a huge role in the outcome of the game. A big underdog can win and go to the Super Bowl, or the favorite can just do what they’re supposed to do. The home team typically has a 3 point advantage, but that’s over a large number of games. This is just one game–60 minutes–and the winner takes all. There’s no series in football, just the best team for that given game. And the winner of each game, one from the AFC and one from the NFC, go on to the Super Bowl to see who is the king of the NFL that year.
This is what everything is geared toward. Even people that despise football watch this game. Two teams face off, and one walks away with a trophy. Your favorite team might not make it this year, but that doesn’t make the game any less exciting. It’s not only an exciting ball game, but it’s a huge media event. Journalists spend the week before the game in the city that the game is being held that year for a series of events leading up to the game. There’s a pre-game show, epic commercials, a halftime show with big name performers, and some of the best football of the year. What’s not to love?
And if your favorite team does make the Super Bowl, it makes the game that much more exciting and enjoyable.