Side Games to Make Your Next Football Sunday Better

Jeremy Nguyen/Thrillist

While watching two rivals duke it out on Sunday is awesome, there’s nothing like a little competition between friends. If you’re ever wondering what to do with your squad before, between, or after watching the big game, then these side games are for you. There’s everything from prop-bet bingo to the ultimate backyard game gauntlet where the true lawn-game champion will be crowned.


Pass the Hat
First things first: turn on the game and grab a hat (a clean one, you monster). Before the first play from scrimmage, someone throws a dollar into the cap. After the play is dead, the hat gets passed and the next person throws another buck into the pot. The whole thing goes round and round until one team scores a touchdown. The lucky person holding the hat on the scoring play wins the spoils. If, however, you find yourself with your hands on the hat when a team turns the ball over, you have to grab the next round of Bud Lights from the fridge.

Jeremy Nguyen/Thrillist

There’s a Box for Everything
You know boxes from your office Super Bowl pool: guess the second digits of the game’s final score and you win. But for the real die-hards who analyze every play with the intense concentration of a conflict-zone neurosurgeon, consider deploying a set of boxes for every game -- hell, you can do it for every half or every quarter if you want to get really into it. It’s an easy way to entertain those friends who fancy themselves offensive coordinators in waiting.

Who Will Win?
This is score-calling with The Price is Right rules: predict the final score without going over either end of the final result and win the whole enchilada. (E.g. If you called 28-17 and it ends up 27-17, you might have a future as a professional handicapper -- but you still lose this game.) The winner gets first dibs on as many leftovers as they can carry home at the end of the party.


Paper Football Field Goal Competition
You should learn how to make a very good paper football so check this manual out first. Ready? Ok. Have your football-averse friends break into two teams on opposite sides of a table and flip a coin to see which squad kicks off first. Each side takes turns flicking finger field-goals from either end of the table -- yes, the team on “defense” will get hit in the face by good kicks, but this is the price of glory -- with each “kicker” getting three shots each. The player with the lowest total score has to buy beer for the next party.

Prop Bet Bingo
There are absurd things happening constantly on and around a football field during a game. So instead of loading a Bingo card with numbers and letters, fill your card with the absurdities that happen on the gridiron. Some favorites to include: player takes off helmet to talk trash, referee over-explains a simple penalty, fans dance in the stands, and someone gets bonked with an errant pass on the sidelines. First to Bingo gets first dibs on every new snack to come out of the kitchen the rest of the afternoon.

Touchdown Dance-Off
The rules of this competition are simple: each contestant gets 15 seconds to do their best touchdown dance and must incorporate a football and a can of Bud Light in the choreography. (People are allowed to team up for squad-oriented celebrations.) The losing choreographer, based on crowd response, has to make a beer run at halftime.

Jeremy Nguyen/Thrillist


Target Practice
After watching Tom Brady throw 40-yard darts all afternoon, it's only natural that your more athletically inclined friends are going to want to test out their arms in a little friendly competition. Setup a target -- a clean trash can is a favorite since there's nothing more satisfying than the hollow thud of a ball hitting the bottom of a barrel -- and assemble the competitors 20 yards away. (Make sure to grab someone to stand near the target to wrangle errant throws.) Everyone gets 10 tosses; winner gets to pick who's responsible for post-party cleanup.

This game is an underrated classic: grab a few friends, a frisbee, some Bud Light, and a pair of posts on which you can balance a can. Head to the backyard, hammer the posts into the ground, and top each one with a full beer. Each team of two throws the frisbee back and forth trying to either hit the post -- worth 1 point -- or knock the can clean off for 3 points. You’re just like your favorite quarterback, only instead of running to the sideline for some water, you get to grab a sip of beer between throws.

The Backyard Triathlon
You know all the classic yard games: KanJam, Baggo, Spike Ball, Washers, Ladder Ball. But what if you combined them into one epic competition? Pick three of your favorite games, then split your party into two teams. Each squad will play each game one time through. (It’s going to be house rules for all competitions, so make sure you’re clear on tiebreakers and winning scores.) The only concrete rule: every team member has to participate in at least one game. The winning team gets the ultimate trilogy of prizes: bragging rights, first pick of seating for the game, and a case of Bud Light to split.