Don't watch the ball while the center is snapping it back to the quarterback; watch the linemen. Whether they stand up or hunch over is crucial to predict how the play will be made.
That's one of the things I learned from A Sportscaster's Guide to Watching Football. I also have a chart of the line up in the offense and defense positions and information on what each player does - the WR, LT, LG, C, RG, TE, QB, and RB. And don't worry - the book explains what all those initials mean.
Offense, defense, the referees and the rules, what the numbers on the football jerseys mean re their position on the team - the 146 page book covers it all. However, though Mark Oristano did a good job of "Decoding America's Favorite Game," he could not get away completely from using terms/words to explain the same terms/words, which only football fans know. For instance, in the glossary, description of a "punt" is "When it's fourth down and you're too far away to kick a field goal, you punt the ball back to the other guys." Okay, but what is a punt? Sounds silly, but hey, I'm no sports fan.
I did get the basics of the game from the book, though true football fans may enjoy it best. After all, I saw football as a game with guys moving down the football field, running and piling up on top of each other. Now, though, I know better.
A Sportscaster's Guide to Watching Football: Decoding America's Favorite Game by Mark Oristano
Thanks to Phenix & Phenix for a review copy of this book.