Catch These Puppy Bowl Plays Before Kickoff

Is there anything more pure on this Earth than the Puppy Bowl? The annual Animal Planet extravaganza of adorableness is what actual, unfiltered joy and goodness look like. The Puppy Bowl is a fool-proof crowd-pleasing television event; who doesn't want to watch 49 fur-faces having the time of their puppy lives for two straight hours? Of course to make that dream a reality, you have to know what time the 2016 Puppy Bowl starts. Though it was originally dreamed up as a Super Bowl alternative on a night that most other networks hand over to reruns, Animal Planet has made a scheduling change in recent years that suits football fans who also don't want to miss the doggie action.

The Puppy Bowl airs from 3 to 5 p.m. this Sunday, leaving you plenty of puppy time before the Super Bowl kickoff at 6:30 p.m. A Puppy Bowl pre-show airs at 2:30 p.m. The event also reruns at 9:06 p.m., in case you've had enough of the Super Bowl by then and would rather relive your favorite puppy moments.

The premise of the Puppy Bowl is simple: on Super Bowl Sunday, two "teams" of puppies go snout-to-snout on a regulation-size (dog-regulation) football field littered with toys. The training is minimal. The scoring is pretty arbitrary. (Though a "Most Valuable Puppy" is crowned each year!) And the winners are the audience and all the adoptable shelter animals the participating pets represent.

The Puppy Bowl is also a terrific excuse to start your Super Bowl party early. Here are just a few of the standard plays you and your guests can expect to see in this year's match-up.

The Flying Leap

This guy totally clears one of his puppy teammates, like a majestic jungle cat. It's a rare show of athleticism in a sporting event where it's not unusual for the participants to lay down and take a nap on the field.

The Camera Sniff

Puppy Bowl trivia: according to the Washington Post, the people behind the puppies will line a camera lens in peanut butter to entice noses like these to come over and check this out. P.S. Dog owners, you've woken up to a similar image many times in your life, yes?

The Steal

Human staff and veterinary support are on-hand to make sure the animals are happy, healthy, and taken care of. But a little playful roughhousing is nothing to worry about, even if the forlorn ear flap of the puppy in the green scarf might be the most traumatizing thing I've ever seen.

The "Why Am I Here?"

Well, little guy, you're here because you're available for adoption, just like the rest of Teams Ruff and Fluff. In a press release, Animal Planet announced that this year's competitors represent 44 shelters and rescue programs from 25 states and Puerto Rico. The kittens bringing you your half-time entertainment are all looking for forever homes too, so feel free to let them steal your heart. But don't get too attached to assistant referee Stanley The Skunk. He's not the kind of cute you want to take home, for obvious reasons.

Super Bowl Sunday makes me proud to be an American, because I live in the country that made an unofficial holiday about football into an unofficial holiday that's about football and puppies. USA!

Images: Animal Planet; Giphy (4)