It is a dangerous time in America. Fall television shows are on hiatus. The holidays are nearly over. American Idol won’t start up for another week. The country might look away from the televised circus and notice the bakeries are aflame. There might be riots or angry tweets or folks withholding donations to political campaigns. Red Alert! Red Alert!

I’m just kidding. Thankfully we have the National Football League to keep our attention fully occupied.

Football is ‘America’s Pastime’. Sorry, baseball. You had a good run, but repeated concussive hits and brain damage explains the current world situation better than steroids ever could.

Football is a complicated sport with complicated rules, complicated strategy, and complicated television and stadium agreements, complicated by many egocentric owners, players, sportscasters, and lawyers. Even writing about it is complicated!

Let’s start with the basics. There are teams named after the city or region which they are located in. Football enthusiasts, called fans, have a complicated relationship with their team. On any given Sunday they will sell their children’s vital organs to afford game tickets, and then curse them because they played so poorly. They will repeat this up to twenty-four times a year. Thank goodness you can buy anything with Bitcoin.

Football fans have extremely long memories. If you ask a Pittsburgh Steelers fan about Super Bowl XL, played in 2005, it will be the best game ever. Ben Roethlisberger put an old-fashioned butt-whooping on the hapless Seattle Seahawks. Ask a Seahawks fan the same question and you’ll receive a terse response: That was the one where the refs gave the Stealers a touchdown for crossing the 2-yard line. After seeing the replay.

Not that they are still bitter about it.

Fans get their team the same way they get their politics and religion: they inherit it from their parents. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. My father was a Seattle Seahawks fan. Therefore, I am a Seattle Seahawks fan, and have been since the team was formed in 1976. Thankfully, it is easy to change your loyalties. You must buy official NFL merchandise to signal to your fellow fans that you are serious about your new team. Watch any NFL game and the sort of gear you’ll need to buy will be prominently featured in advertisements. Repeatedly.

The game itself can be divided into three distinct phases. There is pre-game angst, game angst, and post-game angst. If your husband is more concerned about J.R. Sweezy’s concussion than your labor pains, he is experiencing NFL-related angst. Without knowing when he developed this emotional baggage in relation to game time, I can’t narrow it down further. You’ll just have to suck on those ice chips and ask the nurse what time kickoff happens. Or happened.

A complete breakdown of football strategy and how each play unfolds is beyond the scope of this article. In fact it is beyond the scope of most Bachelor’s Degrees. I can say that the team will generally move the ball downfield via one of three methods: on the ground, through the air, and with FedEx. The Carolina Panthers are a “ground team” because each week they do a lot of running plays. The New England Patriots are an “air team” because each week they throw a lot of passes. The San Francisco 49ers are a “FedEx team” because each week they mail it in.

Women are an important and growing segment of the NFL audience. The players are now dressing in female-friendly colors. Half the time they are wearing pink. They also wear single, cheerful colors. One recent game featured a team dressed in solid yellow and their opponent wore solid red. It became known as the “condiment bowl”. The NFL clearly knows how to market itself. Women had an easy transition out of the kitchen and into the bleachers. This is a trend that will continue. Next year a game will be played with one team in solid white, their opponent in solid green, and the referees will wear solid red. It will become known as the vegan-approved “three-bean salad bowl.”

Since NFL fans still had some time during their week for non-NFL-related activities, they invented fantasy football. If the appeal of football itself eludes you, don’t go wandering into that quagmire. Just be grateful your loved one has an inexpensive hobby! Fantasy football is in no way at all like gambling or related to gambling. The NFL lawyers want to make that abundantly clear to everyone, but particularly state attorney generals, lawmakers, and governors.

This Sunday will mark the end of the 2015 season. Most of the post-season questions have generally been answered, but details remain. The number one seed in the NFC is still waiting on the outcomes of the games. The teams for the fifth and sixth positions are known; but not which fits into which slot. Nobody cares about the AFC. Of course, the big question: which hapless team will be forced to move to Los Angeles during the off-season? Clearly, the stakes are high on that one. Look for the Chargers, Browns, and Titans to give it their all. The loser moves.

Normally I could safely say that the team scoring the most points will advance to the next round of the playoffs. Not this year. Clearly the referees will be deciding the outcome. If it happens to benefit his fantasy football team, then that is mere coincidence. Hey, they have a tough job of selectively enforcing the rules and ignoring replay footage. They deserve to get something from the sport they give up so much for.

Well, enough procrastination. The Seahawks are playing in Arizona and I need to come up with a liver if I’m going to make it to the game. I’m not going to lie: Codex is not gonna be happy come Saturday morning.