I couldn't think of a witty beginning to this essay, so I'm just going to jump in and let the facts speak for themselves.
Part One: The Game Itself
According to that same Wall Street Journal article the average football play lasts four seconds, with a maximum of 40 seconds after each play to start a new one. That means 40 seconds of inactivity. The Journal of Applied Physics (2) claims that the average amount of continuous play in hockey is about about 40 seconds (39.7 seconds, to be exact). As in both cases, plays can be longer or shorter than those times, that is just an average.
In football the ball is given to each team, without fail after every score. In hockey the puck is never given to a team, each team must battle for every second they have the puck. After an interception in football, a team is guaranteed the ball and therefore an opportunity to score. An interception in hockey guarantees nothing, and the intercepting team must fight to retain possession.
While big hits happen in both sports, in football if you're about to get clobbered by a hit, you can duck off the field to safety. When a potential hit is coming your way in hockey you only have a wall behind you, thus nowhere to go.
If a scrum/fight breaks out in football the fight isn't really awesome, because a helmet is covering each combatants face. While in hockey the most there is to protect yourself is a visor that only covers the top half of your face.
Part Two: The Season and the Playoffs
An NHL (National Hockey League) season and an NFL (National Football League) season are vastly different. An NHL season is comprised of 82 games from October through April, roughly 26 weeks (28 weeks if it is an Olympic year). An NFL season contains each team playing once a week for 16 games beginning in August and ending in January. That means an NFL team plays one game per week, while an NHL team averages a little over three games a week. In numbers.
NFL team—11 minutes of actual playing per week.
NHL team—Three hours of actual play a week.
If you want to win the Stanley Cup (the championship in hockey) you must win four seven-game series. That means you must play a minimum of 16 games, assuming you don't lose once throughout the entire playoffs (a feat that is extremely rare and unlikely).
Football also uses the four-round system, though each round consists of one game.
That means to win the Super Bowl (the football championship) a team must play and win four games. That is 25 percent of the minimum amount of games a hockey team must win to be crowned champions. Numerically that breaks down as follows (from the averages listed above). In numbers.
To win the Superbowl a team must be the better team through 44 minutes of play.
To win the Stanley Cup a team must be the better team through a minimum of 16 hours of play.
Part Three: Fans
A quick disclaimer, I'm not calling you stupid or think of you an idiot because you watch football, these are merely observations.
While both sports obviously have loyal fans, I think being a football fan is a little easier than being a hockey fan. To a fan following their favorite football team, they must dedicate one game a week to watching their team.
A typical broadcast of an NFL game is roughly three hours. This includes commercials, stoppages of play, half time and what not. A three-hour broadcast for 11 minutes of play. The average telecast devotes 56 percent more time to replays than they do for actual play. The same Wall Street Journal article mentioned before says that about 60 percent of total air time is dedicated to showing huddles, players standing around, and players lining up for a play.
Not unlike an NFL broadcast, an NHL broadcast is about three hours as well. This constitutes at least an hour of actual game play. The numbers, give or take.
Football—11 minutes a week.
Hockey—three hours a week.
I feel like watching football is more about the things surrounding a game than the game itself. After all, the game itself is only 11 minutes. Thing like tail-gating, betting, and eating and drinking are what makes watching football so popular more than the football itself.
So there you have it, my argument on why hockey is a better game than (American) football.