It is game day in the NFL, where two teams wage a ferocious battle of wits and brawn, a spectacle that has turned pro football into the most popular sport in North America.

The game itself is the culmination of tireless preparation. Players and coaches have joined forces in the preceding days to plot their strategy and practice their assigned roles.

What you see during those three-plus hours is what makes the NFL so wildly successful. What you don't see are the countless hours that go into getting ready for the drama that is game day.

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The daily meetings.

The weightlifting.

The practices.

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The video study.

It is all part of an incredibly detailed process that all teams go through, a painstaking progression that starts the minute one game ends and the preparation for the next begins.

Although there are some subtle differences from team to team in how the week is planned, they all adhere to a strict regimen that requires time, discipline and commitment from every player who puts on a uniform and every coach who has a role in preparing the team.

Here's a typical week in the life of the NFL:

SUNDAY -- AFTER THE GAME

-- Players and coaches leave the field and gather in the locker room. Head coach speaks briefly to the team, often handing out game balls after a victory and pointing out problem areas after a loss. Most speeches last only a minute or two, and players usually huddle up at the end for a final sendoff.

-- After a 10-minute cooling off period, during which players head to the shower, the equipment staff begins the task of cleaning up a room where discarded tape and papers. Players throw their sweat-soaked uniforms into large bins, and they are removed for cleaning inside industrial-sized washers in a back room. (For road games, uniforms are not laundered until the team returns home . . . yes, it's a smelly situation.)

-- Media interviews begin after the cooling off period. The head coach goes to a separate interview room to speak with reporters from a podium, and players who had a key role in the game usually speak at the podium as well. Reporters are free to interview players around the locker room.

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-- Locker rooms usually empty within 45 minutes or so after the end of the game. For road games, it's often quicker, as players must leave in buses for the airport to return home. For home games, players and coaches often go out for a bite to eat afterward with family members or friends. There are usually no coaches' meetings after games, although there are informal conversations among coaches.

MONDAY

6-9 a.m.: Team cafeteria open to all players, coaches and support staff for breakfast. Depending on meeting/weightlifting schedule, players can eat at their convenience. Full range of food available; most teams post calorie counts for each serving size. Additional nutritional information is posted.

6 a.m. Training room open. Injured players report to the training room at a prescribed time as set forth by the team's medical staff. All players can seek information from training staff.

7-8 a.m. Weightlifting session. Depending on the team, the bigger linemen on both sides of the ball, as well as linebackers, lift weights at a prescribed time. On some teams, the bigger players lift in the morning and the skill position/defensive backs/quarterbacks lift in the afternoon. On other teams, the schedule is flipped. Weightlifting sessions the day after the game can vary. Some teams want players lifting, others allow them to rest.

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7-8 a.m. Coaches meeting. Head coach runs the meeting, going over what he expects from that day's practice and what he is looking for in the week ahead.

8-9 a.m. Special teams meeting. Players who participate on special teams - kickoff coverage and return, punt coverage and return, field goal and extra point kicks and field goal/extra point block. Special teams coach will review strategy for each group, and players look at film of the previous game to examine good and bad plays.

9-9:30 a.m. Team meeting. Head coach reviews game situations from the day before and maps out a plan for the coming week. There is occasional criticism from the coach after a bad loss, but in general, the tone of these meetings is usually straightforward and informative. In some cases, the coach will ask individual players to speak, but this is the exception, not the rule.

10 a.m.-Noon: Offensive/defensive meetings. The team breaks up into offense and defense, with the coordinators and position coaches participating in instructional situations. The offensive and defensive coordinators usually run the meetings, and position coaches and players can provide input and ask questions. Strategy from the previous game is reviewed.

12:30-2 p.m. Practice. Players are usually not put through a strenuous workout the day after the game, since they are generally sore and need recovery time. Practice is often a "walk-through," where players line up without helmets and shoulder pads and go through plays slowly. This allows coaches to explain exactly what they want the players to do on a given play or with a specific formation.

2-3 p.m. Lunch.

2:30-3:15 p.m. Media interviews. Reporters are allowed in the locker room, and players are interviewed. The NFL requires all players to be available to media on a daily basis, although some high-profile players are permitted to be interviewed just once a week in a group setting of reporters.

3:15-4 p.m. Special teams meeting. More film work and meeting time for all special teams units.

3-4 p.m. Weightlifting. Whichever players didn't lift in the morning lift in the afternoon.

4-5 p.m. Offense/defense meeting. Coordinators review any information that they feel needs to be reinforced, whether it pertains to the game just played or the following week's game.

5-6 p.m. Coaches meetings. Coaches meet separately to review any outstanding issues and begin discussing game plan ideas for the following week.

5-7 p.m. Dinner.

TUESDAY

Players' day off.

6 a.m. Training room is open. All injured players must report to the training room at a time determined by the training staff. Depending on the severity of their injuries, players can remain in the facility for several hours.

6 a.m. Cafeteria opens.

7 a.m. Coaches meeting. This is the critical day for game-planning for the next game. Coaches will have looked at film of the opponent during the day on Monday, and ideas are exchanged in an open forum. Coaches break up into offense and defense, and the game plan is formulated. The process takes most of the day, and some coaches work until late in the evening. It's not uncommon for some head coaches or coordinators to sleep at the facility because they work so late on fine-tuning game plans.

WEDNESDAY

6 a.m. Cafeteria open for breakfast and training room open.

7-8 a.m. Weightlifting session for specified players. Some teams have bigger players lift at this time, others have skill position/defensive backs/quarterbacks lift.

7-8 a.m. Coaches meeting. Game planning from the previous day is reviewed, and any changes are made when necessary. The head coach will often go over specific issues related to the opponent, stressing the approach he wants to take on both sides of the ball. A head coach who specializes in offense or defense will generally stick to his area of expertise, but also consults with his coordinators to review plans.

8-9 a.m. Special teams meetings. All special teams players meet to review the upcoming opponent and watch game film.

9-9:30 a.m. Team meeting. The head coach runs the meeting, presenting an outline of the game plan for the upcoming opponent. Regardless of the result of the previous game, the coach usually takes a positive approach in this meeting, pointing out areas where he believes his team can take advantage of an opponent's weakness, and pointing out potential shortcomings of his own team.

9:45-11:15 a.m. Offense/defense meetings. Coaches will meet with their respective players on either side of the ball. Game film is analyzed as it relates to the upcoming opponent. Offense and defense will break up into position-by-position meetings so that more details can be discussed on specific plays. Game film is analyzed with the players.

11:45 a.m.-1:45 p.m. Practice. This is one of the most critical practice sessions of the week, because the game plan on both sides of the ball is installed and the players work on the details in practice. All practices begin with a stretching period for the players. Afterward, the players break into individual units and run warm-up drills specific to their positions. After those drills conclude, the team period commences, where the offense faces the defense to run plays specific to that week's game plan. Contact is very limited in these practices because of strict rules approved in the 2011 collective bargaining agreement. Special teams practice plays are staged at various times during practice; during these times, offensive and defensive players take a break. At the end of practice, the coach will gather his players in a large huddle and address any outstanding issues. The session concludes with a post-practice stretching period.

1:30-2:15. Media session in locker room.

2:30-3:30: Special teams meetings.

3:45-5 p.m. Offensive/defensive meetings.

5-7 p.m. Dinner.

Players can leave the complex at this time. Most players bring their tablet computers home to study game film on their own time.

6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Coaches meeting. Coaches review the day's practice and go over any changes that need to be made to the game plan.

THURSDAY

6 a.m. Cafeteria open for breakfast and training room open.

7-8 a.m. Weightlifting session for specified players.

7-8 a.m. Coaches meeting. The previous day's practice is discussed, and any changes to the game plan are fine-tuned. Game film is analyzed.

8-9 a.m. Special teams meetings. More game film is analyzed, and any issues from the previous day's practice are addressed.

9-9:30 a.m. Team meeting. While not as involved as the Wednesday meeting, the head coach will continue to press ahead with plans for the upcoming game, honing in on specific areas related to the opponent.

9:45-11:15 a.m. Offense/defense meetings. The discussion becomes more specific as it relates to the opponent. Any issues from the previous day's practice are addressed. Positional meetings follow. Game film is analyzed with the players.

11:45 a.m.-1:45 p.m. Practice. As always, practice begins with a stretching period for the players. Players then break into individual units and run warm-up drills specific to their positions. After those drills conclude, the team period commences, where the offense faces the defense to run plays specific to that week's game plan. Red zone plays are often stressed in the Thursday session. Red zone practice (when the offense has the ball inside the opponent's 20-yard line) is critical to a team's success on game day, since possession in the scoring zone can often decide the outcome. Special teams units practice at various times when the regular offense and defense units take a break. The practice session concludes with a post-practice stretching period.

2 p.m. Lunch

2:15-3 p.m. Media session in locker room.

3-3:45 p.m. Special teams meetings.

3:45-5 p.m. Offensive/defensive meetings.

5-7 p.m. Dinner.

6-7 p.m. Coaches meetings.

FRIDAY

6 a.m. Cafeteria and training room open.

7-8 a.m. Weightlifting session for specified players. With game day approaching, the intensity of weightlifting sessions is reduced so that players have adequate time to re-charge in the run-up to the game.

7-8 a.m. Any remaining issues are discussed, although the bulk of the game planning is now complete. Only fine tuning at this point.

8-9 a.m. Special teams meetings. All special teams players meet to review the upcoming opponent and watch game film.

9-9:30 a.m. Team meeting. Individual areas of practice are addressed as the head coach continues to set the tone for the upcoming game.

9:45-11:15 a.m. Offense/defense meetings. Coaches will meet with their respective units on either side of the ball. Game film is analyzed as it relates to the upcoming opponent. Offense and defense will break up into position-by-position meetings so that more details can be discussed on specific plays. Game film is analyzed with the players if necessary.

11:45 a.m.-1:45 p.m. Practice. The practices continue to diminish in intensity as the game approaches. Players continue to run plays that will be used in the game, and more red zone work is done. Special teams units practice as well.

2 p.m. Lunch.

2:15-3 p.m. Media session with reporters.

3-3:45 p.m. Special teams meetings.

3:45-5 p.m. Offensive/defensive meetings.

5-7 p.m. Dinner.

6 p.m. Coaches meetings.

SATURDAY (For a home game)

7 a.m. Cafeteria and training room open

9 a.m. Special teams walk-through practice

10 a.m. Team meeting. A very brief meeting with the players. Any issues relating to the game plan reviewed, but at this point, all the work is done, so there isn't much left to address.

10:30 a.m. Team walk-through practice. Plays are reviewed with the players as they line up on the field.

11 a.m. Offense/defense meetings. Brief review session.

(For road trips, players will assemble at this time and take buses to local airport).

3 p.m. Report to team hotel.

5-7 p.m. Dinner.

7 p.m. Chapel service

7:30-8 p.m. Offensive/defensive meetings. Game plan review.

8 p.m. Special teams meetings.

8:30 p.m. Team meeting. Head coach generally has a specific theme in mind for his pre-game speech. Motivational speakers occasionally are brought in to address the team.

8:45 p.m. Snack.

11 p.m. Curfew/bed check

SUNDAY

7 a.m. Wakeup call/breakfast

9:30 a.m. First bus leaves (for 1 p.m. game). Players can take later buses, but all players must be at the stadium no later than two hours before kickoff.

10 a.m.-1 p.m. Players prepare for game, going through pre-game stretch and positional drills.

1 p.m. Kickoff!