Throughout its history, the National Football League (NFL) and other rival American football leagues have used several different formats to determine their league champions, including a period of inter-league matchups determining a true national champion.
Following its founding in 1920, the NFL first determined champions through end-of-season standings, but switched to a playoff system in 1933. The rival All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and American Football League (AFL) have since merged with the NFL (the only two AAFC teams that currently exist joined the NFL in 1950—the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers), but AAFC championship games and records are not included in NFL record books. The AFL began play in 1960 and, like its rival league, used a playoff system to determine its champion.
From 1966–1969 prior to the merger in 1970, the NFL and the AFL agreed to hold an ultimate championship game, first called the AFL-NFL World Championship Game and later renamed the Super Bowl after 1968. Following the merger in 1970, the Super Bowl name continued as the game to determine the NFL champion. The most important factor of the merger was that all ten AFL teams joined the NFL in 1970 and every AFL championship game and record is included in NFL record books. The old NFL Championship Game became the NFC Championship Game, while the old AFL Championship Game became the AFC Championship Game. The NFL lists the old AFL/NFL championship games with "new" AFC/NFC championship games in its record books. The Green Bay Packers have won the most championships with 13 total (9 NFL championships pre-merger, four (4) Super Bowl championships). The Packers are also the only team to win three consecutive championships, having done so twice (1929–1931, 1965–1967). The Chicago Bears have won the second most overall championships with nine (9) (eight NFL championships, one Super Bowl championship).
At its inception in 1920, the NFL had no playoff system or championship game: the champion was the team with the best record during the season as determined by winning percentage, with ties excluded. This sometimes led to very unusual results, as teams played anywhere from six to twenty league games in a season, and not all teams played the same number of games or against league talent.
As a result, in the league's first six seasons, four league titles were disputed and had to be resolved by the league's executive committee. In 1920, the Akron Pros went undefeated, tying three games, but two teams that had won more games (and who had both tied Akron), the Buffalo All-Americans and Decatur Staleys, petitioned the league for a share of the title; both teams' petitions were denied, and Akron was awarded the first (and only) Brunswick-Balke Collender Cup. According to modern tie-breaking rules, Akron and Buffalo would be co-champions. Akron and Buffalo both awarded their team members with gold medallions.
The next was in the 1921 NFL season, between the same All-Americans and Staleys (with the latter now being based in Chicago). Buffalo had insisted that the last matchup between the two was an exhibition game not to be counted toward the standings, however, Chicago owner George Halas and league management insisted the game be counted in its standings (the league, at the time, did not recognize exhibition matches). The result was that although the two teams were effectively tied in the standings, the disputed game, having been played later, was given more weight and thus ended up being considered a de facto championship game. Chicago also had one fewer tie game.
A nearly identical situation recurred in 1924, when Chicago tried the same tactic of a final game against the Cleveland Bulldogs, but the league ruled the opposite and declared the last game "post-season", giving the Bulldogs their third consecutive league title.
The fourth and final disputed title was the 1925 NFL Championship controversy between the Pottsville Maroons and the Chicago Cardinals. The Maroons had been controversially suspended by the league at the end of the 1925 NFL season for an unauthorized game against a non-NFL team, allowing the Cardinals to throw together two fairly easy matches (one against a team consisting partly of high school players, also against league rules) to pass Pottsville in the standings. The league awarded the Cardinals the title, one of only two in the team's history, but the Cardinals declined the offer and the championship was vacated.
Only in 1933, when the Bidwill family (which still owns the Cardinals) bought the team, did the Cardinals reverse their decision and claim the title as their own, a decision that continues to be disputed, with the Bidwills opposing any change in the record and the two current Pennsylvania teams in favor. The league recognized the Bidwills' claim to the title and has taken no other action on the issue, although a self-made championship trophy from the Maroons sits in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Ironically, it was Pottsville's win in that game against the Notre Dame All-Stars that gave professional football legitimacy over college football.
Part of the controversy over these stems from the criteria the league used to determine its champion. The league used a variation of win percentage as its criterion, in which the number of wins is divided by the sum of wins and losses, and ties were excluded. The league began considering ties in its standings in 1972, counting them as half a win and half a loss, but this was not applied retroactively. Had it been, it would have changed the outcome of four 1920-1931 championships: the Buffalo All-Americans would have tied the Akron Pros for the 1920 title, the Duluth Kelleys would have tied the Cleveland Bulldogs for the 1924 title, the Pottsville Maroons would have won in 1925, and the New York Giants would have won in 1930.
Had win-loss differential (the standard method in baseball) been used, the Decatur Staleys would have won the 1920 title by virtue of being one game ahead of Buffalo, and the 1924 title would have been won by the Frankford Yellow Jackets, who were four games ahead of actual champion Cleveland in the standings by that measure.
At the end of the 1932 season, the Chicago Bears and the Portsmouth Spartans were tied with the best winning percentage at .857, with the Spartans record of 6–1–4 and the Bears record of 6–1–6 taken to be six wins, one loss, while the Green Bay Packers finished 10–3–1. Had pure win-loss differential or the current (post-1972) system of counting ties as half a win, half a loss been in place in 1932, the Packers' record of 10–3–1 (.750, +7) would have won them a fourth consecutive championship, ahead of the Spartans' 6–1–4 (.727, +5) and the Bears' 6–1–6 (.692, +5).
To determine the champion, the league, reportedly at the behest of George Preston Marshall, voted to hold the first official playoff game in Chicago at Wrigley Field. Because of severe winter conditions before the game, and fear of low turnout, the game was held indoors at Chicago Stadium which forced some temporary rule changes. The game was played on a modified 80-yard dirt field, and Chicago won 9–0, winning the league championship. Since the game counted in the standings, Portsmouth finished third behind Green Bay.
A number of new rule changes were instituted, many inspired by the 1932 indoor championship game: the goal posts were moved forward to the goal line, every play started from between the hash marks, and forward passes could originate from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage (instead of five yards behind).
The playoff game proved so popular that the league reorganized into two divisions for the 1933 season, with the winners advancing to a scheduled championship game.
Starting in 1933, the NFL decided its champion through a single postseason playoff game, called the NFL Championship Game. During this period, the league divided its teams into two groups, through 1949 as divisions and from 1950 onward as conferences.
Home field for the 1933 title game was determined by the won-lost percentage in use at the time; the Western Division champion Chicago Bears (10–2–1, .833), having a better record that the Eastern Division champion New York Giants (11–3–0, .786), won the right to host the first title playoff. Thereafter, from 1934 onward, the divisions alternated the site of the playoff, with the East/American hosting in even years and the West/National in odd years. If there was a tie for first place within the conference, an extra playoff game decided who would go to the NFL Championship Game, with a coin toss deciding where the game would be played. (This occurred nine times in these 34 seasons: 1941, 1943, 1947, 1950 (both conferences), 1952, 1957, 1958, and 1965.)
This last occurred during the 1965 season, when the Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Colts tied for first place in the Western Conference at 10–3–1. Green Bay had won both its games with Baltimore during the regular season, but because no tie-breaker system was in place, a conference playoff game was held on December 26 (what was scheduled to be an off-week between the end of the regular schedule and the NFL Championship Game). The Cleveland Browns, the Eastern champion at 11–3–0, did not play that week. The championship game was then held on its originally-scheduled date, January 2, 1966—the first time the NFL champion was crowned in January. Green Bay won both post-season games at home, beating the injury-riddled Colts (with third-string QB Tom Matte) in overtime by a controversial field goal, and taking the title 23–12 on a very muddy field (in what turned out to be Jim Brown's final NFL game).
For the 1960 through 1969 seasons, the NFL staged an additional postseason game called the "Playoff Bowl" (aka the "Bert Bell Benefit Bowl" or the "Runner-up Bowl"). These games matched the second-place teams from the two conferences; the CBS television network advertised them as "playoff games for third place in the NFL." All ten of these consolation games were played in the Orange Bowl in Miami in January, the week after the NFL championship game. The NFL now classifies these contests as exhibition games and does not include the records, participants, or results in the official league playoff statistics. The Playoff Bowl was discontinued after the AFL–NFL merger; the final edition was played in January 1970.
Starting with the 1934 game the winning team received the Ed Thorp Memorial Trophy. The trophy was named after Ed Thorp, a noted referee, rules expert, and sporting goods dealer. Thorp died in 1934 and a large, traveling trophy was made that year, passed along from champion to champion each season with each championship team's name inscribed on it. Teams would also receive a replica trophy. The trophy was last awarded to the Minnesota Vikings in 1969. The actual trophy, however, is now missing.
Late in the 1940 season, NFL President Carl Storck announced that sudden death periods would be authorized for any playoff game needed to decide either division title. It was emphasized that this did not apply to the final championship game, which would crown co-champions in the event of a tie. While a shared championship was deemed an acceptable solution, it must have become obvious that an elimination game leading to the championship must necessarily produce a winner. Commissioner Elmer Layden approved a similar arrangement for the 1941 season, with the same limitation. A coin toss would decide possession of the Ed Thorp trophy that accompanied the league title should the championship game result in a tie.
Sudden death overtime was finally approved for the NFL championship game in 1946 and has remained in effect ever since. The first playoff game requiring overtime was the 1958 NFL Championship Game.
The 1955 and 1960 NFL championship games were played on Monday afternoons, Christmas having fallen on a Sunday in those years.
For a list of AAFC Championship Games and winners, see List of AAFC champions
The All-America Football Conference was created in June 1944 to compete against the NFL. Even though the league outdrew the NFL in attendance, the continuing dominance of the Cleveland Browns led to the league's downfall.
For its first three seasons, the league was divided into two divisions: Eastern and Western (1946–1948). The league had no divisions in 1949. The site of the championship game during the first three was determined just as it was in the NFL—a divisional rotation. In 1949, the league held a four-team playoff, with home field based upon won-lost record.
The Browns, led by Quarterback Otto Graham, won all four of the league championship games.
A tiebreaker playoff game was played in 1948 to break a tie between the Baltimore Colts and Buffalo Bills (AAFC) for the Eastern Division championship. Semifinal playoff games were held in 1949, setting up a championship final between the first-place Browns and the second-place San Francisco 49ers.
In 1948, the Browns became the first professional football team to complete an entire season undefeated and untied — 24 years before the 1972 Miami Dolphins of the NFL would accomplish the task, but this feat is not recognized by NFL record books. Unlike the AFL statistics which are treated as NFL statistics, records of the AAFC and its teams (most of which folded) are not recognized. However, individual AAFC player statistics are included in Pro Football Hall of Fame records, and the defunct conference is memorialized in the Hall.
With its creation in 1960, the AFL determined its champion via a single playoff game between the winners of its two divisions, the Eastern and Western. The AFL Championship games featured classics such as the 1962 double-overtime championship game between the Dallas Texans and the defending champion Houston Oilers. At the time it was the longest professional football championship game ever played. Also in 1963, an Eastern Division playoff was needed to determine the division winner between the Boston Patriots and Buffalo Bills.
In 1966, the success of the rival AFL, the spectre of the NFL's losing more stars to the AFL, and concern over a costly "bidding war" for players precipitated by the NFL's Giants' signing of Pete Gogolak, who was under contract to the AFL's Buffalo Bills, led the two leagues to discuss a merger. Pivotal to this was approval by Congress of a law (PL 89-800) that would waive jeopardy to anti-trust statutes for the merged leagues. The major point of the testimony given by the leagues to obtain the law was that if the merger were permitted, "Professional football operations will be preserved in the 23 cities and 25 stadiums where such operations are presently being conducted." The merger was announced on June 8, 1966, and became fully effective in 1970.
After expanding to enfranchise the New Orleans Saints in 1967, the NFL split its 16 teams into two conferences with two divisions each: the Capitol and Century Divisions in the Eastern Conference, and the Coastal and Central Divisions in the Western Conference. The playoff format was expanded from a single championship game to a four-team tournament, with the four divisional champions participating. The two division winners in each conference met in the "Conference Championships", with the winners advancing to the NFL Championship Game. Again, the home team for each playoff game was determined by a yearly divisional or conference rotation.
The AFL on the other hand, raised its total franchise number to ten with the Miami Dolphins joining the Eastern Division in 1966 and the Cincinnati Bengals joining the Western Division in 1968. The league until 1969 kept using the one-game-playoff format except when division tie-breakers were needed. In its final season, 1969, the AFL adopted a four-team playoff to determine its champion.
Following the NFL and AFL Championship Games for the 1966 through 1969 seasons, the NFL champion played the AFL champion in Super Bowls I through IV, the only true inter-league championship games in the history of professional football. The first two of these games were known as the AFL-NFL Championship Game, as the title Super Bowl was not chosen until 1968. Thus the third AFL-NFL matchup was dubbed "Super Bowl III" and the first two matches were retronamed as Super Bowls I and II. The first two games were convincingly won by the NFL's Packers, the last two by the AFL's New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs, leaving the leagues even at 2-2 in "Championship" competition when they subsequently merged.
All participants in those four AFL-NFL championship games were either AFL champions or NFL champions in the record books, no matter the outcome of the Super Bowl. Three of the four league champions who lost one of the first four Super Bowls would eventually win at least one. The exception is the Minnesota Vikings which went to three others and lost all of them.
After the 1969 season and Super Bowl IV, the AFL and NFL fully merged and underwent a re-alignment for the 1970 season. Three of the pre-merger NFL teams were transferred to the AFC (Browns, Colts, and Steelers) to level the conferences (AFC and NFC) at 13 teams each; each conference split into three divisions.
With only six division winners in the newly merged league, the NFL designed an eight-team playoff tournament, with four clubs from each conference qualifying. Along with the three division winners in each conference, two wild card teams (one from each conference), the second-place finishers with the best records in each conference, were added to the tournament. The first round was named the "Divisional Playoffs", the winners advancing to the "Conference Championships" (AFC & NFC). Two weeks later, the AFC and NFC champions met in the Super Bowl, now the league's championship game. Thus, Super Bowl V in January 1971 was the first Super Bowl played for the NFL title.
With the introduction of the wild card, a rule was instituted to prohibit two teams from the same division (champion and wild card) from meeting in the first-round (Divisional Playoffs). This rule would remain in effect through the 1989 season. More significantly, the home teams in the playoffs were still decided by a yearly divisional rotation, not on regular-season records (excluding the wild-card teams, who would always play on the road). This lack of "home-field advantage" was most evident in the 1972 playoffs, when the undefeated Miami Dolphins played the AFC Championship Game at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh against the Steelers, who were undefeated at home during the regular season, but had three losses on the road.
Beginning in 1972, tie games were included in the computing of each team's winning percentage. Each tie was then counted as half of a win and half of a loss, rather than being omitted from the computation. Previously, the NFL disregarded any tie games played when they computed the standings, basing it on winning percentage with any ties thrown out and ignored. Overtime games were not played during the regular season until 1974.
In 1975, the league modified its 1970 playoff format by instituting a seeding system. The surviving clubs with the higher seeds were made the home teams for each playoff round. The three division champions in each conference were seeded first through third based on their regular-season records, with the wild-card team in each conference as the fourth seed.
Teams that earned the top seed became known as clinching "home-field advantage" throughout the playoffs, since they played all of their playoff games at their home stadium (except for the Super Bowl, played at a neutral site).
However, the league continued to prohibit meetings between teams from the same division in the Divisional Playoffs. Thus, there would be times when the pairing in that round would pit the first seed versus the third, and the second versus the fourth.
The league expanded the playoffs to 10 teams in 1978, adding a second wild-card team (a fifth seed) from each conference. The two wild-card teams from each conference (the fourth and fifth seeds) played each other in the first round, called the "Wild Card Playoffs." The division winners (the first three seeds) would then receive a bye to automatically advance to the Divisional Playoffs, which became the second round of the playoffs. In the divisional round, much like the 1970 playoff format, teams from the same division were still prohibited from playing each other, regardless of seeding. Under the 1978 format, teams from the same division could meet only in the wild-card round or the conference championship. Thus, as before, a divisional champion could only play a divisional foe in the conference championship game.
A players' strike shortened the 1982 season to nine games. The league used a special 16-team playoff tournament for that year. The top eight teams from each conference qualified (ignoring the divisional races—there were no division standings, and in some cases 2 teams from the same division did not play each other at all that season). The playoffs reverted to the 1978 format in the following year.
In 1990, the NFL expanded the playoffs to twelve teams by adding a third wild-card team (a sixth seed) from each conference. The restrictions on intra-division playoff games during the Divisional Playoffs were removed. However, only the top two division winners in each conference (the 1 and 2 seeds) received byes and automatically advanced to the Divisional Playoffs as host teams. The 3 seed, the division winner with the worst regular season record in each conference, would then host the 6 seed in the Wild Card Playoffs.
In 2002, the NFL realigned into eight divisions, four per conference, to accommodate a 32nd team, the Houston Texans. The playoffs remained a 12-team tournament, with four division winners (the 1, 2, 3, and 4 seeds) and two wild cards (the 5 and 6 seeds) from each conference advancing to the playoffs. Again, only the top two division winners in each conference would automatically advance to the Divisional Playoffs, while everybody else had to play in the Wild Card round. Furthermore, the league still maintains the names "Wild Card Playoffs", "Divisional Playoffs", and "Conference Championships" for the first, second, and third rounds of the playoffs, respectively.
A proposal to expand the playoffs to 14 teams by adding a third wild card team (a seventh seed) from each conference, and only giving the 1 seeds the bye in the first round, was tabled by the league owners in 2013.
Below is a list of professional football champions per season as recognized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
For the first thirteen seasons, the APFA/NFL did not hold a championship game, except in 1932, when a playoff game was held. Played indoors on a reduced-size field, it was the precursor to the championship game (though the losing team finished in third place in the final standings). For the 51 seasons from 1921–1971, the NFL did not officially include tie games in the winning percentage, they were omitted from the calculation.
|1920||APFA||Akron Pros (1)||8||0||3||1.000|
|1921||APFA||Chicago Staleys (1)||9||1||1||.900|
|1922||NFL||Canton Bulldogs (1)||10||0||2||1.000|
|1923||NFL||Canton Bulldogs (2)||11||0||1||1.000|
|1924||NFL||Cleveland Bulldogs (1)||7||1||1||.875|
|1925||NFL||Chicago Cardinals (1)||11||2||1||.846|
|1926||NFL||Frankford Yellow Jackets (1)||14||1||2||.933|
|1927||NFL||New York Giants (1)||11||1||1||.917|
|1928||NFL||Providence Steam Roller (1)||8||1||2||.889|
|1929||NFL||Green Bay Packers (1)||12||0||1||1.000|
|1930||NFL||Green Bay Packers (2)||10||3||1||.769|
|1931||NFL||Green Bay Packers (3)||12||2||0||.857|
|1932||NFL||Chicago Bears (2)||7||1||6||.875|
Click on column heading to sort by teams, venue or attendance.
|Season||League||Winning Team||Score||Losing Team||Venue||Attendance|
|1933||NFL||Chicago Bears (3)||23–21||New York Giants||Wrigley Field||26,000|
|1934||NFL||New York Giants (2)||30–13||Chicago Bears||Polo Grounds||35,059|
|1935||NFL||Detroit Lions (1)||26–7||New York Giants||University of Detroit Stadium||15,000|
|1936||NFL||Green Bay Packers (4)||21–6||Boston Redskins||Polo Grounds||29,545|
|1937||NFL||Washington Redskins (1)||28–21||Chicago Bears||Wrigley Field||15,870|
|1938||NFL||New York Giants (3)||23–17||Green Bay Packers||Polo Grounds||48,120|
|1939||NFL||Green Bay Packers (5)||27–0||New York Giants||Dairy Bowl||32,279|
|1940||NFL||Chicago Bears (4)||73–0||Washington Redskins||Griffith Stadium||36,034|
|1941||NFL||Chicago Bears (5)||37–9||New York Giants||Wrigley Field||13,341|
|1942||NFL||Washington Redskins (2)||14–6||Chicago Bears||Griffith Stadium||36,006|
|1943||NFL||Chicago Bears (6)||41–21||Washington Redskins||Wrigley Field||34,320|
|1944||NFL||Green Bay Packers (6)||14–7||New York Giants||Polo Grounds||46,016|
|1945||NFL||Cleveland Rams (1)||15–14||Washington Redskins||Cleveland Municipal Stadium||32,178|
|1946||NFL||Chicago Bears (7)||24–14||New York Giants||Polo Grounds||58,346|
|1947||NFL||Chicago Cardinals (2)||28–21||Philadelphia Eagles||Comiskey Park||30,759|
|1948||NFL||Philadelphia Eagles (1)||7–0||Chicago Cardinals||Shibe Park||36,309|
|1949||NFL||Philadelphia Eagles (2)||14–0||Los Angeles Rams||Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum||27,980|
|1950||NFL||Cleveland Browns (1)||30–28||Los Angeles Rams||Cleveland Municipal Stadium||29,751|
|1951||NFL||Los Angeles Rams (2)||24–17||Cleveland Browns||Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum||57,522|
|1952||NFL||Detroit Lions (2)||17–7||Cleveland Browns||Cleveland Municipal Stadium||50,934|
|1953||NFL||Detroit Lions (3)||17–16||Cleveland Browns||Briggs Stadium||54,577|
|1954||NFL||Cleveland Browns (2)||56–10||Detroit Lions||Cleveland Municipal Stadium||43,827|
|1955||NFL||Cleveland Browns (3)||38–14||Los Angeles Rams||Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum||85,693|
|1956||NFL||New York Giants (4)||47–7||Chicago Bears||Yankee Stadium||56,836|
|1957||NFL||Detroit Lions (4)||59–14||Cleveland Browns||Briggs Stadium||55,263|
|1958||NFL||Baltimore Colts (1)||23–17 (OT)||New York Giants||Yankee Stadium||64,185|
|1959||NFL||Baltimore Colts (2)||31–16||New York Giants||Memorial Stadium||57,545|
|1960||NFL||Philadelphia Eagles (3)||17–13||Green Bay Packers||Franklin Field||67,325|
|1961||NFL||Green Bay Packers (7)||37–0||New York Giants||"New" City Stadium||39,029|
|1962||NFL||Green Bay Packers (8)||16–7||New York Giants||Yankee Stadium||64,892|
|1963||NFL||Chicago Bears (8)||14–10||New York Giants||Wrigley Field||45,801|
|1964||NFL||Cleveland Browns (4)||27–0||Baltimore Colts||Cleveland Municipal Stadium||79,544|
|1965||NFL||Green Bay Packers (9)||23–12||Cleveland Browns||Lambeau Field||50,777|
(The creation of Super Bowl was the first sign of AFL–NFL merger. The first four Super Bowls served as inter-league championship games because of these inter-league championship games this created some confusion amongst football fans that there was a special World Championship series in the pre-merger era. After the merger, the Super Bowl became the NFL's championship game.
The number in the parentheses is the total number of Super Bowl championships and the bolded number in parentheses is the total number of NFL championships.)
|Season||League||Game||Winning team||Score||Losing team||Venue||Attendance|
|I||Green Bay Packers (1) (10)||35–10||Kansas City Chiefs||Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum||61,946|
|II||Green Bay Packers (2) (11)||33–14||Oakland Raiders||Miami Orange Bowl||75,546|
|III||New York Jets (1) (1)||16–7||Baltimore Colts||Miami Orange Bowl||75,389|
|IV||Kansas City Chiefs (1) (1)||23–7||Minnesota Vikings||Tulane Stadium||80,562|
|1970||NFL||V||Baltimore Colts (1) (3)||16–13||Dallas Cowboys||Miami Orange Bowl||79,204|
|1971||NFL||VI||Dallas Cowboys (1) (1)||24–3||Miami Dolphins||Tulane Stadium||81,023|
|1972||NFL||VII||Miami Dolphins (1) (1)||14–7||Washington Redskins||Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum||90,182|
|1973||NFL||VIII||Miami Dolphins (2) (2)||24–7||Minnesota Vikings||Rice Stadium||71,882|
|1974||NFL||IX||Pittsburgh Steelers (1) (1)||16–6||Minnesota Vikings||Tulane Stadium||80,997|
|1975||NFL||X||Pittsburgh Steelers (2) (2)||21–17||Dallas Cowboys||Miami Orange Bowl||80,187|
|1976||NFL||XI||Oakland Raiders (1) (1)||32–14||Minnesota Vikings||Rose Bowl||103,438|
|1977||NFL||XII||Dallas Cowboys (2) (2)||27–10||Denver Broncos||Louisiana Superdome||76,400|
|1978||NFL||XIII||Pittsburgh Steelers (3) (3)||35–31||Dallas Cowboys||Miami Orange Bowl||79,484|
|1979||NFL||XIV||Pittsburgh Steelers (4) (4)||31–19||Los Angeles Rams||Rose Bowl||103,985|
|1980||NFL||XV||Oakland Raiders (2) (2)||27–10||Philadelphia Eagles||Louisiana Superdome||76,135|
|1981||NFL||XVI||San Francisco 49ers (1) (1)||26–21||Cincinnati Bengals||Pontiac Silverdome||81,270|
|1982||NFL||XVII||Washington Redskins (1) (3)||27–17||Miami Dolphins||Rose Bowl||103,667|
|1983||NFL||XVIII||Los Angeles Raiders (3) (3)||38–9||Washington Redskins||Tampa Stadium||72,920|
|1984||NFL||XIX||San Francisco 49ers (2) (2)||38–16||Miami Dolphins||Stanford Stadium||84,059|
|1985||NFL||XX||Chicago Bears (1) (9)||46–10||New England Patriots||Louisiana Superdome||73,818|
|1986||NFL||XXI||New York Giants (1) (5)||39–20||Denver Broncos||Rose Bowl||101,063|
|1987||NFL||XXII||Washington Redskins (2) (4)||42–10||Denver Broncos||Jack Murphy Stadium||73,302|
|1988||NFL||XXIII||San Francisco 49ers (3) (3)||20–16||Cincinnati Bengals||Joe Robbie Stadium||75,129|
|1989||NFL||XXIV||San Francisco 49ers (4) (4)||55–10||Denver Broncos||Louisiana Superdome||72,919|
|1990||NFL||XXV||New York Giants (2) (6)||20–19||Buffalo Bills||Tampa Stadium||73,813|
|1991||NFL||XXVI||Washington Redskins (3) (5)||37–24||Buffalo Bills||Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome||63,130|
|1992||NFL||XXVII||Dallas Cowboys (3) (3)||52–17||Buffalo Bills||Rose Bowl||98,374|
|1993||NFL||XXVIII||Dallas Cowboys (4) (4)||30–13||Buffalo Bills||Georgia Dome||72,817|
|1994||NFL||XXIX||San Francisco 49ers (5) (5)||49–26||San Diego Chargers||Joe Robbie Stadium||74,107|
|1995||NFL||XXX||Dallas Cowboys (5) (5)||27–17||Pittsburgh Steelers||Sun Devil Stadium||76,347|
|1996||NFL||XXXI||Green Bay Packers (3) (12)||35-21||New England Patriots||Louisiana Superdome||72,301|
|1997||NFL||XXXII||Denver Broncos (1) (1)||31–24||Green Bay Packers||Qualcomm Stadium||68,912|
|1998||NFL||XXXIII||Denver Broncos (2) (2)||34–19||Atlanta Falcons||Pro Player Stadium||74,803|
|1999||NFL||XXXIV||St. Louis Rams (1) (3)||23–16||Tennessee Titans||Georgia Dome||72,625|
|2000||NFL||XXXV||Baltimore Ravens (1) (1)||34–7||New York Giants||Raymond James Stadium||71,921|
|2001||NFL||XXXVI||New England Patriots (1) (1)||20–17||St. Louis Rams||Louisiana Superdome||72,922|
|2002||NFL||XXXVII||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1) (1)||48–21||Oakland Raiders||Qualcomm Stadium||67,603|
|2003||NFL||XXXVIII||New England Patriots (2) (2)||32–29||Carolina Panthers||Reliant Stadium||71,525|
|2004||NFL||XXXIX||New England Patriots (3) (3)||24–21||Philadelphia Eagles||Alltel Stadium||78,125|
|2005||NFL||XL||Pittsburgh Steelers (5) (5)||21–10||Seattle Seahawks||Ford Field||68,206|
|2006||NFL||XLI||Indianapolis Colts (2) (4)||29–17||Chicago Bears||Dolphin Stadium||74,512|
|2007||NFL||XLII||New York Giants (3) (7)||17–14||New England Patriots||University of Phoenix Stadium||71,101|
|2008||NFL||XLIII||Pittsburgh Steelers (6) (6)||27–23||Arizona Cardinals||Raymond James Stadium||70,774|
|2009||NFL||XLIV||New Orleans Saints (1) (1)||31–17||Indianapolis Colts||Sun Life Stadium||74,059|
|2010||NFL||XLV||Green Bay Packers (4) (13)||31–25||Pittsburgh Steelers||Cowboys Stadium||103,219|
|2011||NFL||XLVI||New York Giants (4) (8)||21–17||New England Patriots||Lucas Oil Stadium||68,658|
|2012||NFL||XLVII||Baltimore Ravens (2) (2)||34–31||San Francisco 49ers||Mercedes-Benz Superdome||71,024|
|2013||NFL||XLVIII||Seattle Seahawks (1) (1)||43–8||Denver Broncos||MetLife Stadium||82,529|
|2014||NFL||XLIX||New England Patriots (4) (4)||28–24||Seattle Seahawks||University of Phoenix Stadium||70,288|
|2015||NFL||50||Denver Broncos (3) (3)||24–10||Carolina Panthers||Levi's Stadium||71,088|
|2016||NFL||LI||New England Patriots (5) (5)||34–28 (OT)||Atlanta Falcons||NRG Stadium||70,807|
|2017||NFL||LII||Philadelphia Eagles (1) (4)||41–33||New England Patriots||U.S. Bank Stadium||67,612|
|2018||NFL||LIII||New England Patriots (6) (6)||13–3||Los Angeles Rams||Mercedes-Benz Stadium||73,019|
In the sortable table below, teams are ordered first by number of appearances, then by number of wins, and finally by year of first appearance. Does not include the AFL or NFL championships won during the same seasons as the AFL–NFL Super Bowl championships before the 1970 AFL–NFL merger. Does not include AFL titles won from 1960–1965 or AAFC titles won from 1946–1949. Does not include folded NFL teams with zero "Appearances/Top 2 Finishes." In the "Seasons" column, bold years indicate NFL championships won.
|Current NFL Team||Folded Team|
|Appearances/Top 2 Finishes||Franchise||Wins||Losses/Runner-Ups||Win %||Seasons|
|22||New York Giants||8||14||.364||1927, 1929, 1930, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1938, 1939, 1941, 1944, 1946, 1956, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1986, 1990, 2000, 2007, 2011|
|19||Chicago Bears||9||10||.474||1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1926, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1937, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1946, 1956, 1963, 1985, 2006|
|18||Green Bay Packers||13||5||.722||1927, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1936, 1938, 1939, 1944, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1996, 1997, 2010|
|11||New England Patriots||6||5||.545||1985, 1996, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018|
|11||Washington Redskins||5||6||.455||1936, 1937, 1940, 1942, 1943, 1945, 1972, 1982, 1983, 1987, 1991|
|9||Cleveland Browns||4||5||.444||1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1957, 1964, 1965|
|9||Cleveland/St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams||3||6||.333||1945, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1955, 1979, 1999, 2001, 2018|
|8||Pittsburgh Steelers||6||2||.750||1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1995, 2005, 2008, 2010|
|8||Dallas Cowboys||5||3||.625||1970, 1971, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1992, 1993, 1995|
|8||Denver Broncos||3||5||.375||1977, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1997, 1998, 2013, 2015|
|7||Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts||4||3||.571||1958, 1959, 1964, 1968, 1970, 2006, 2009|
|7||Philadelphia Eagles||4||3||.571||1947, 1948, 1949, 1960, 1980, 2004, 2017|
|6||San Francisco 49ers||5||1||.833||1981, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1994, 2012|
|6||Detroit Lions||4||2||.667||1931, 1935, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1957|
|5||Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders||3||2||.600||1967, 1976, 1980, 1983, 2002|
|5||Miami Dolphins||2||3||.400||1971, 1972, 1973, 1982, 1984|
|4||Chicago/Arizona Cardinals||2||2||.500||1925, 1947, 1948, 2008|
|4||Minnesota Vikings||0||4||.000||1969, 1973, 1974, 1976|
|4||Buffalo Bills||0||4||.000||1990, 1991, 1992, 1993|
|3||Seattle Seahawks||1||2||.333||2005, 2013, 2014|
|2||Canton Bulldogs||2||0||1.000||1922, 1923|
|2||Baltimore Ravens||2||0||1.000||2000, 2012|
|2||Frankford Yellow Jackets||1||1||.500||1926, 1928|
|2||Kansas City Chiefs||1||1||.500||1966, 1969|
|2||Cincinnati Bengals||0||2||.000||1981, 1988|
|2||Carolina Panthers||0||2||.000||2003, 2015|
|2||Atlanta Falcons||0||2||.000||1998, 2016|
|1||Providence Steam Rollers||1||0||1.000||1928|
|1||New York Jets||1||0||1.000||1968|
|1||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1||0||1.000||2002|
|1||New Orleans Saints||1||0||1.000||2009|
|1||Los Angeles Chargers||0||1||.000||1994|
|Current NFL championship system||Inter-league/world championship system||Defunct league championship system|
|League||Official name||Common name||First year||Last year||Trophy name|
(No championship game played)
|NFL Champion||1920||1932||Brunswick-Balke Collender Cup, 1920 |
|NFL Championship Game||NFL Championship||1933||1969||Ed Thorp Memorial Trophy|
|AFL||AFL Championship Game||AFL Championship||1960||1969||AFL Trophy|
|AFL-NFL World Championship Game||World Championship of Pro Football
AFL-NFL World Championship Game
|1966||1969||Vince Lombardi Trophy|
"(Modern) NFL Championship"
(Modern) NFL Championship
|League||Season||Franchise||Regular Season||Post Season Result(s)||Recognition|
|NFL||1920||Akron Pros*||8||0||3||1.000||1st NFL||No Post-Season – Championship by league vote.||NFL: No|
|1922||Canton Bulldogs*||10||0||2||1.000||1st NFL||No Post-Season – Championship by standings||NFL: No|
|1923||Canton Bulldogs*||11||0||1||1.000||1st NFL||No Post-Season – Championship by standings||NFL: No|
|1929||Green Bay Packers*||12||0||1||1.000||1st NFL||No Post-Season – Championship by standings||NFL: No|
|1934||Chicago Bears||13||0||0||1.000||1st NFL West||Lost NFL Championship (Giants) (13-30)||NFL: Yes|
|1942||Chicago Bears||11||0||0||1.000||1st NFL West||Lost NFL Championship (Redskins) (6-14)||NFL: Yes|
|AAFC||1948†||Cleveland Browns||14||0||0||1.000||1st AAFC West||Won AAFC championship (Bills) (49-7)||NFL: No|
|NFL||1972†||Miami Dolphins||14||0||0||1.000||1st AFC East||Won Divisional Playoffs (Browns) (20-14)
Won Conference Championship (Steelers) (21-17)
Won Super Bowl VII (Redskins) (14-7)
|NFL||2007||New England Patriots||16||0||0||1.000||1st AFC East||Won Divisional Playoffs (Jaguars) (31-20)
Won Conference Championship (Chargers) (21-12)
Lost Super Bowl XLII (Giants) (14-17)
(*) Because the NFL did not count tied games in league standings until 1972 (when ties were added to past standings retroactively), these seasons were considered to be "perfect" at the time they finished. Because the rules existing at the times of those championships did not give the teams involved any incentive to avoid tie games in order to maintain a "perfect" season, the accuracy of calling these seasons "imperfect" is still disputed.
The 1960 National Football League championship game was the 28th NFL title game. The game was played on Monday, December 26, at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.In addition to the landmark 1958 championship game, in which the Baltimore Colts defeated the New York Giants in sudden death overtime, the 1960 game has also been called a key event in football history. The game marked the lone playoff defeat for Packers coach Vince Lombardi before his Packers team established a dynasty that won five NFL championships, including the first two Super Bowls, in a span of seven seasons. The victory was the third NFL title for the Philadelphia Eagles, and their final championship until the team won Super Bowl LII in 2018, ending a 57-season championship drought.The American Football League was in its first season and held its inaugural title game less than a week later. First-year NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle convinced owners to move the league's headquarters from Philadelphia to New York City, and with Congressional passage of the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961 received an antitrust exemption that allowed the league to negotiate a common broadcasting network representing all of its teams, helping cement football's ascendancy as a national sport.This was the second and last NFL championship game played in Philadelphia, and the only one at Franklin Field. A dozen years earlier, the 1948 title game was held in the snow at Shibe Park and was also an Eagles' victory.
Ticket prices for the game were ten and eight dollars.1961 NFL Championship Game
The 1961 National Football League Championship Game was the 29th title game. It was played at "New" City Stadium, later known as Lambeau Field, in Green Bay, Wisconsin on December 31, with an attendance of 39,029.The game was a match-up of the Eastern Conference champion New York Giants (10–3–1) and the Western Conference champion Green Bay Packers (11–3). The home team Packers were a 3⅓-point favorite.Packers Ray Nitschke, Boyd Dowler, and Paul Hornung, were on leave from the U.S. Army. Hornung scored 19 points (a touchdown, three field goals, and four extra points) for the Packers and was named the MVP of the game, and awarded a 1962 Chevrolet Corvette from Sport magazine.The victory was the first of five NFL titles won in a seven-season span by the Packers and their head coach, Vince Lombardi. It was the Packers' seventh league title and their first in 17 years.1962 NFL Championship Game
The 1962 National Football League Championship Game was the 30th NFL title game, played on December 30 at Yankee Stadium in New York City. It matched the New York Giants (12–2) of the Eastern Conference and Green Bay Packers (13–1) of the Western Conference, the defending league champions.The Packers were led by hall of fame head coach Vince Lombardi, in his fourth year, and the Giants by Allie Sherman, in his second season. Green Bay was favored by 6½ points. The attendance for the game was 64,892, and the weather during the game was so cold that television crews used bonfires to thaw out their cameras, and one cameraman suffered frostbite. The conditions also made throwing the ball difficult.
Green Bay won 16–7, behind the performances of game Most Valuable Player linebacker Ray Nitschke, and fullback Jim Taylor. Right guard Jerry Kramer, filling in as placekicker for the injured Paul Hornung, scored ten points with three field goals and an extra point. The Giants fumbled twice, with Nitschke recovering both for the Packers, while the Packers recovered all five of their own fumbles and intercepted a Giants pass.This was the third and final NFL title game played at Yankee Stadium; the others were in 1956 and 1958, with the Giants winning the first. There would not be another NFL title game in greater New York City for 51 seasons until Super Bowl XLVIII, which was played February 2, 2014 at MetLife Stadium and resulted in the Seattle Seahawks defeating the Denver Broncos 43-8. Previous championship games hosted by the Giants in New York were played across the Harlem River at the Polo Grounds in 1934, 1938, 1944, and 1946; the Giants won the first two. An additional title game was played at the Polo Grounds in 1936, hosted by the Boston Redskins and won by the Packers.1963 NFL Championship Game
The 1963 National Football League Championship Game was the 31st annual championship game, played on December 29 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The game pitted the visiting New York Giants (11–3) of the Eastern Conference against the Chicago Bears (11–1–2) of the Western Conference.Originally, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle asked Bears owner/coach George Halas to move the game to Soldier Field for its higher seating capacity and lights, as the game could extend into multiple overtime periods. (Wrigley Field was not lighted until 25 years later, in 1988.) Soldier Field was the home field of the Chicago Cardinals in 1959, and became the home of the Bears in 1971.
When Halas refused, Rozelle moved the game's starting time up an hour to 12:05 p.m. CST for increased daylight, similar to 1960 at Franklin Field. The championship game was played in temperatures under 10 °F (−12 °C).The Giants were in their third consecutive championship game and fifth in the last six seasons. They lost to the Baltimore Colts in 1958 and 1959 and the Green Bay Packers in 1961 and 1962. The Bears were in their first championship game since a loss to the Giants in 1956 at Yankee Stadium, and had last won in 1946, over the Giants at the Polo Grounds.
This was the fifth and final NFL championship game at Wrigley Field, which hosted the first in 1933, as well as 1937, 1941, and 1943. The Bears won four, with the only loss in 1937.
Tickets were $12.50, $10, and $6. NBC paid the league $926,000 for the broadcast rights.1964 NFL Championship Game
The 1964 National Football League Championship Game was the 32nd annual championship game, held on December 27 at Cleveland Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. With an attendance of 79,544, it was the first NFL title game to be televised by CBS.
The game marked the last championship won by a major-league professional sports team from Cleveland until 2016 when the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Finals. As of 2018 this is the last championship ever won by the Cleveland Browns.1965 NFL Championship Game
The 1965 National Football League Championship Game was the 33rd championship game for the National Football League (NFL), played on January 2, 1966, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This was the first NFL championship game played in January, televised in color, and the last one played before the Super Bowl era.
The game matched the Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Browns (11–3), the defending NFL champions, and the Green Bay Packers (10–3–1) of the Western Conference. A week earlier, the Packers defeated the Baltimore Colts in a tiebreaker Western Conference playoff at County Stadium in Milwaukee, while the Browns were idle. The Packers were making their first appearance in the championship game in three years, since their consecutive wins in 1961 and 1962. Green Bay was relegated to the third place Playoff Bowl the previous two seasons, with a victory over the Browns and a loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
The home field for the NFL title game alternated between the conferences; in odd-numbered seasons, the Western team was the host. Home field advantage was not implemented in the NFL playoffs until 1975.
With the 23–12 victory, the Packers won their ninth NFL title, sixth in the championship game era.1966 NFL Championship Game
The 1966 National Football League Championship Game was the 34th NFL championship, played at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. It was the final game of the 1966 NFL season.
It determined the champion of the National Football League (NFL), which met the champion of the American Football League (AFL) in Super Bowl I, then formally referred to as the first AFL–NFL World Championship Game. The Western Conference champion Green Bay Packers (12–2), defending league champions, were hosted by the Dallas Cowboys (10–3–1), the Eastern Conference champions.
The home field for the NFL Championship alternated between the two conferences; even-numbered years were hosted by the Eastern and odd-numbered by the Western. Starting with the 1975 season, playoff sites were determined by regular season record, rather than a rotational basis.
The New Year's college bowl game at the Cotton Bowl for the 1966 season included the SMU Mustangs of Dallas. It was played the day before, New Year's Eve, which required a quick turnaround to transform the natural grass field. The two games were filled to the 75,504 capacity, but both local teams came up short.1967 NFL Championship Game
The 1967 National Football League Championship Game was the 35th NFL championship, played on December 31 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin.It determined the NFL's champion, which met the AFL's champion in Super Bowl II, then formally referred to as the second AFL-NFL World Championship Game.
The Dallas Cowboys (9–5), champions of the Eastern Conference, traveled north to meet the Western champion Green Bay Packers (9–4–1), the two-time defending league champions. It was a rematch of the previous year's title game, and pitted two future Hall of Fame head coaches against each other, Tom Landry for the Cowboys and Vince Lombardi for the Packers. The two head coaches had a long history together, as both had coached together on the staff of the late 1950s New York Giants, with Lombardi serving as offensive coordinator and Landry as defensive coordinator.
Because of the adverse conditions in which the game was played, the rivalry between the two teams, and the game's dramatic climax, it has been immortalized as the Ice Bowl and is considered one of the greatest games in NFL history.
Leading up to the 50th Anniversary of the game, NFL Films released an episode of its Timeline series about the events that day and the lasting impact. The episode is narrated and co-produced by filmmaker Michael Meredith, whose father Don Meredith was the QB for the Cowboys that day.1968 NFL Championship Game
The 1968 National Football League championship game was the 36th annual championship game. The winner of the game represented the NFL in the third AFL-NFL World Championship Game also called the Super Bowl. The NFL title game was held December 29 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio.1969 NFL Championship Game
The 1969 NFL Championship Game was the 37th and final championship game prior to the AFL–NFL merger, played January 4, 1970, at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota, a suburb south of Minneapolis. The winner of the game earned a berth in Super Bowl IV in New Orleans against the champion of the American Football League.The Minnesota Vikings of the Western Conference hosted the Cleveland Browns of the Eastern Conference. It was the Vikings' first appearance in the title game, while the Browns were making their second straight appearance and fourth of the 1960s.
Minnesota had a regular season record of 12–2, including a 51–3 defeat of the Browns eight weeks earlier on November 9. The Vikings defeated the Los Angeles Rams 23–20 in the Western Conference championship a week earlier at Met Stadium. They were coached by Bud Grant and led on offense by quarterback Joe Kapp and wide receiver Gene Washington. The defense allowed only 133 points (9½ per game) during the regular season and their four defensive linemen were known as the "Purple People Eaters."
Cleveland was 10–3–1 during the regular season and had upset the Dallas Cowboys 38–14 at the Cotton Bowl for the Eastern Conference title. The Browns were coached by Blanton Collier; Bill Nelsen was the starting quarterback and Gary Collins and Paul Warfield were star wide receivers for the team.
Although not as severe as the "Ice Bowl" of 1967, the weather conditions were bitterly cold at 8 °F (−13 °C), with a sub-zero wind chill factor. Cleveland linebacker Jim Houston suffered frostbite during the game and was hospitalized.
Minnesota was favored by nine points to win the title game at home, and they won, 27–7.Of the four NFL teams that joined the league during the AFL era (1960s), Minnesota was the sole winner of a pre-merger NFL championship. The Dallas Cowboys entered the league in 1960 and lost two NFL title games to the Green Bay Packers, in 1966 and 1967. The expansion Atlanta Falcons (1966) and New Orleans Saints (1967) did not qualify for the postseason until 1978 and 1987, respectively.
The Vikings would go on to lose Super Bowl IV 23-7 to the AFL champion Kansas City Chiefs. Starting with the 1970 season, the NFL champion was determined in the Super Bowl, beginning with Super Bowl V.History of the National Football League
The National Football League (NFL) was founded in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association (APFA) with ten teams from four states, all of whom existed in some form as participants of regional leagues in their respective territories; it took on its current name in 1922. The NFL was the first professional football league to successfully establish a nationwide presence, after several decades of failed attempts. Only two teams currently in the NFL, the Decatur Staleys (now the Chicago Bears) and the Chicago Cardinals (now the Arizona Cardinals), are founding members. The Green Bay Acme Packers, founded in 1919 (joined the NFL in 1921, now the Green Bay Packers) are the oldest NFL franchise within continuous operation in the same location.
League membership gradually stabilized throughout the 1920s and 1930s as the league adopted progressively more formal organization. The first official championship game was held in 1933. The NFL stopped signing black players in 1927 but reintegrated in 1946 following World War II. Other changes followed after the war; the office of league President evolved into the more powerful Commissioner post, mirroring a similar move in Major League Baseball. Teams became more financially viable, the last team folding in 1952 and the league absorbing teams from the briefly more successful All-America Football Conference in 1950, two of which survive to the present day. By 1958, when that season's NFL championship game became known as "The Greatest Game Ever Played", the NFL was on its way to becoming one of the most popular sports leagues in the United States.
The rival American Football League was founded in 1960. It was very successful, and forced a merger with the older NFL that resulted in a greatly expanded league and the creation of the Super Bowl, which has become the most-watched annual sporting event in the United States. The league continued to expand to its current size of 32 teams. A series of labor agreements during the 1990s and increasingly large television contracts have helped keep the league one of the most profitable in the U.S., and the only major league in the U.S. since 1990 to avoid a work stoppage that resulted in the loss of regular-season games.List of Super Bowl champions
The Super Bowl is the annual American football game that determines the champion of the National Football League (NFL). The game culminates a season that begins in the previous calendar year, and is the conclusion of the NFL playoffs. The contest is held in an American city, chosen three to four years beforehand, usually at warm-weather sites or domed stadiums. Since January 1971, the winner of the American Football Conference (AFC) Championship Game has faced the winner of the National Football Conference (NFC) Championship Game in the culmination of the NFL playoffs.
Before the 1970 merger between the American Football League (AFL) and the National Football League (NFL), the two leagues met in four such contests. The first two were marketed as the "AFL–NFL World Championship Game", but were also casually referred to as "the Super Bowl game" during the television broadcast. Super Bowl III in January 1969 was the first such game that carried the "Super Bowl" moniker in official marketing; the names "Super Bowl I" and "Super Bowl II" were retroactively applied to the first two games. The NFC/NFL leads in Super Bowl wins with 27, while the AFC/AFL has won 26. Twenty franchises, including teams that have relocated to another city, have won the Super Bowl.The New England Patriots (6–5) and Pittsburgh Steelers (6–2) have won the most Super Bowls with six championships, while the Dallas Cowboys (5–3) and the San Francisco 49ers (5–1) have five wins. New England has the most Super Bowl appearances with eleven, while the Buffalo Bills (0–4) have the most consecutive appearances with four (all losses) from 1990 to 1993. The Miami Dolphins (1971–1973) and New England Patriots (2016–2018) are the only other teams to have at least three consecutive appearances. The Denver Broncos (3–5) and Patriots have each lost a record five Super Bowls. The Minnesota Vikings (0–4) and the Bills have lost four. The record for consecutive wins is two and is shared by seven franchises: the Green Bay Packers (1966–1967), the Miami Dolphins (1972–1973), the Pittsburgh Steelers (1974–1975 and 1978–1979, the only team to accomplish this feat twice and have four wins in six seasons), the San Francisco 49ers (1988–1989), the Dallas Cowboys (1992–1993), the Denver Broncos (1997–1998), and the New England Patriots (2003–2004). Among those, Dallas (1992–1993; 1995) and New England (2001; 2003–2004) are the only teams to win three out of four consecutive Super Bowls. The 1972 Dolphins capped off the only perfect season in NFL history with their victory in Super Bowl VII. The only team with multiple Super Bowl appearances and no losses is the Baltimore Ravens, who in winning Super Bowl XLVII defeated and replaced the 49ers in that position. Four current NFL teams have never appeared in a Super Bowl, including franchise relocations and renaming: the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Houston Texans, though both the Browns (1950, 1954, 1955, 1964) and Lions (1935, 1952, 1953, 1957) had won NFL championship games prior to the creation of the Super Bowl.
National Football League Championship Games (1933–present)
|NFL Championship Game|
|AFL Championship Game|
|AFL-NFL World Championship Games |
1 – From 1966 to 1969, the first four Super Bowls were "World Championship" games played between two independent professional football leagues, AFL and NFL, and when the league merged in 1970 the Super Bowl became the NFL Championship Game.
2 – Dates in the list denote the season, not the calendar year in which the championship game was played. For instance, Super Bowl XLI was played in 2007, but was the championship for the 2006 season.