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Your 2014 NFL Cheat Sheet

You've seen the tweets, the fantasy drafts and the football jerseys. Grown men are yelling at TV's and bars are busting out their best specials on wings and drinks. This is a rundown of how to survive, maybe even thrive, during the 2014 NFL season.

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Join a Fantasy Football League

Via epguides.com

Just because you aren't glued to the couch on Sundays does't mean you aren't competent enough to run your own fantasy football team. Fantasy football is designed to incorporate every type of fan, not just the ones who spend their weeks attached to their phones, combing the waiver wires.

Owning a fantasy football team is a great way to make your Sunday's much more personal. If your roommates are going to commandeer the TV all day, it takes some of the sting away knowing that every big play that Calvin Johnson or Tom Brady makes helps you out.

Whether you're playing with friends, family or co-workers, fantasy football is a great way to get everybody involved. Your grandma, your weird neighbor Steve or Alice from accounting may not be the next Vince Lombardi, but taking them down in a fantasy matchup may feel just as satisfying.

Bonus: Choosing your team's name gives you access to a bevy of puns, alliterations and onomatopoeias.

Pick A Team

Via cdn.fansided.com

Sundays become a lot better (and more nerve-wracking) if you have a team to root for. Plenty of people watch football without any particular loyalties, but it certainly feels a lot more real if you're wrapped in the action.

You don't have to pick the local team, your significant other's team, or even a good team. If you have some trouble picking, here is a quick guide to some of the NFL's teams.

New England Patriots: Tom Brady and Bill Belicheck are the NFL's Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine. They win a lot, are viewed by many to be the source of all evil, and don't mind that most people love to root against them.

Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars are the NFL's running punchline. Despite finishing near the the bottom of the standings for the past five years, things are looking up in Jacksonville. The team has benefitted from all their high draft picks in recent years and are finally putting together a talented roster. They are only a year or two away from getting back into the playoffs.

Seattle Seahawks: Seahawks fans, who affectionally call themselves "12's" for the way their crowd noise affects their home games, are only yelling that loud so they don't have to talk football. A team with about as much history as the Jaguars may not have the lifelong fans that other franchises do, but Mackelmore and the rest of Seattle are making up for lost time. Much like the ice bucket challenge, the Seahawks are currently trending.

Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers have some of the most loyal and diehard fans in football. The team is often successful and has a fan-base that people can mostly tolerate. They frantically wave their yellow Terrible Towels every home game and have a two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger. As long as you don't google him, you may feel like rooting for the Steelers.

Green Bay Packers: The Packers, the only franchise in pro sports that is publicly owned, are America's feel good story. The entire "city's" population can fit into Lambeau Field and they pack it to the gills every Sunday. Their quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the best in the league and is a real treat to watch. You better get started now on buying tickets, though—the waiting list for season tickets is about 50 years long.

Dallas Cowboys: "America's Team" were the darlings of the 1990's, but have gone into an epic cold streak that has left Cowboys fans everywhere with their head in their hands. Eccentric owner Jerry Jones' decision to hire himself as Cowboy's general manager has run the team into the ground, but he seems to be too proud to do anything but keep spending money. If you enjoy hearing lots and lots of coverage about your team, then maybe the Cowboys are one to root for.

Denver Broncos: For years, Peyton Manning has been dominating opposing defenses, while also leaving plenty of time to film commercials. Last year's MVP is hoping to improve on last year's ending, where the aforementioned Seahawks discarded of the Broncos like a box of stale Papa John's pizza. America has a soft spot for Peyton; feel free to jump right on the bandwagon.

New York Giants: Peyton's younger brother, Eli, has turned himself into something of an enigma. He is either throwing interceptions or winning Super Bowls. Dealing with the New York media is a job in itself, but Eli has managed to take his up-and-down team on two hot streaks that ended with parades in downtown Manhattan.

New York Jets: If you live in New York but also enjoy being grumpy, then maybe the Jets are for you. Their head coach Rex Ryan brags about his guys more than a mother at a PTA meeting, but they still haven't found a way to win. Every year they overhaul the roster and Ryan makes a new set of promises, only to yet again come up short. If you enjoy commiserating about sports in a public setting, root for the constantly underachieving Gang Green.

Philadelphia Eagles: It's great to be from Philly because no matter how well their team is doing, Philadelphians always believe their team to be the best. Sure they booed Santa and have been known to throw batteries at opposing players, but how about those cheesesteaks? The Eagles, led by head coach Chip Kelly, seem to have righted the ship and should give their fans some things to cheer about.

2014 NFL Scuttlebutt

Johnny Manziel: Johnny Manziel is an undersized rookie quarterback out of Texas A&M whose collegiate heroics and highlight reel scrambles made him must-see TV. Now on the Cleveland Browns, Manziel's every move has been documented and discussed by sports media pundits around the country. "Johnny Football" has his own celebration, commercial deals and is becoming a brand, but he is currently backing up a career journeyman named Brian Hoyer.

Roger Goodell: Roger Goodell, the NFL's commissioner, is always in the headlines. Nobody is benefitting from America's love of football like he is; in 2014 he made over $44 million running the league. The man in the middle of every NFL conversation, Goodell is often at the front of controversy. He is currently enforcing a flawed disciplinary system and has received plenty of criticism for it—he suspended Ray Rice for two games after a domestic assault charge, but has suspended players twice that amount of time for failing a drug test. Goodell is pushing for a more streamlined version of the game, one that is safer for its players and more entertaining for the fans. People question his sincerity about player safety—he is a proponent of extending the 16 game schedule be to 18 games, something that certainly wouldn't help lower injury rates.

Michael Sam: Michael Sam made history when he became the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL. Originally thought to be a 2nd or 3rd round talent, Sam's poor workouts before the draft dropped him all the way to the 7th round, where he was picked by the St. Louis Rams. From there, the media coverage only grew. Sam was in talks with The Oprah Winfrey Network to film his experience with the Rams and he was the top story on ESPN, regardless of the day. All the hype failed to get Sam a place on the roster, though; he was cut by the Rams and has subsequently signed with the Dallas Cowboy's Practice Squad. Jerry Jones never shies away from a chance at a story.

Ray Rice: Ray Rice's ongoing saga was the only thing that could compete with Johnny Football and Michael Sam this summer. Rice was arrested in Atlantic City after video footage surfaced of him dragging his unconscious fiancé out of an elevator. He apologized publicly before being lightly slapped on the wrist with a two game suspension. Criticism rained down on Commissioner Goodell, and he admitted weeks after that he didn't handle the situation properly. In light of the situation, the NFL has increased the severity of punishment for any incidents of domestic violence. Footage from inside the elevator was released on September 8th, confirming that Rice punched his fiancé in the face and knocked her out. Public outcry increased tenfold, demanding a stricter punishment. The Ravens and the NFL took swift action, as Ray Rice has been released and suspended indefinitely.

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