The National Football Conference (NFC) is one of the two conferences of the National Football League (NFL), the highest professional level of American football in the United States. This conference and its counterpart the American Football Conference (AFC), currently contain 16 teams organized into 4 divisions. Both conferences were created as part of the 1970 merger with the rival American Football League (AFL), with all ten of the former AFL teams and three NFL teams forming the AFC while the remaining thirteen NFL clubs formed the NFC. A series of league expansions and division realignments have occurred since the merger, thus making the current total of 16 clubs in each conference. The current NFC champions are the Los Angeles Rams, who defeated the New Orleans Saints in the 2018 NFC Championship Game for their fourth conference championship.
|National Football Conference|
National Football Conference logo (2010–present)
|League||National Football League|
|Formerly||National Football League (NFL), pre 1970 AFL–NFL merger|
|No. of teams||16|
|Most recent National Football Conference champion(s)||Los Angeles Rams (4th title)|
|Most National Football Conference titles||Dallas Cowboys (8 titles)|
|East||Dallas Cowboys||Arlington, Texas||AT&T Stadium|
|New York Giants||East Rutherford, New Jersey||MetLife Stadium|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||Lincoln Financial Field|
|Washington Redskins||Landover, Maryland||FedExField|
|North||Chicago Bears||Chicago, Illinois||Soldier Field|
|Detroit Lions||Detroit, Michigan||Ford Field|
|Green Bay Packers||Green Bay, Wisconsin||Lambeau Field|
|Minnesota Vikings||Minneapolis, Minnesota||U.S. Bank Stadium|
|South||Atlanta Falcons||Atlanta, Georgia||Mercedes-Benz Stadium|
|Carolina Panthers||Charlotte, North Carolina||Bank of America Stadium|
|New Orleans Saints||New Orleans, Louisiana||Mercedes-Benz Superdome|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Tampa, Florida||Raymond James Stadium|
|West||Arizona Cardinals||Glendale, Arizona||State Farm Stadium|
|Los Angeles Rams||Los Angeles, California||Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum|
|San Francisco 49ers||Santa Clara, California||Levi's Stadium|
|Seattle Seahawks||Seattle, Washington||CenturyLink Field|
|POS||AFC East||AFC North||AFC South||AFC West|
|POS||NFC East||NFC North||NFC South||NFC West|
Currently, the thirteen opponents each team faces over the 16-game regular season schedule are set using a pre-determined formula. Each NFC team plays the other teams in their respective division twice (home and away) during the regular season, in addition to 10 other games assigned to their schedule by the NFL. Two of these games are assigned on the basis of a particular team's final divisional standing from the previous season. The remaining 8 games are split between the roster of two other NFL divisions. This assignment shifts each year and will follow a standard cycle. Using the 2012 regular season schedule as an example, each team in the NFC West plays against every team in the AFC East and NFC North. In this way, non-divisional competition will be mostly among common opponents – the exception being the two games assigned based on the team's prior-season divisional standing.
At the end of each season, the four division winners and two wild cards (non-division winners with best regular season record) in the NFC qualify for the playoffs. The NFC playoffs culminate in the NFC Championship Game with the winner receiving the George S. Halas Trophy. The NFC Champion then plays the AFC Champion in the Super Bowl.
Both the AFC and NFC were created after the NFL merged with the American Football League (AFL) in 1970. When the AFL began play in 1960 with eight teams, the NFL consisted of 13 clubs. By 1969, the AFL had expanded to ten teams and the NFL to 16 clubs. In order to balance the merged league, all ten of the former AFL teams along with the NFL's Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Baltimore Colts formed the AFC, while the remaining 13 NFL teams formed the NFC.
While the newly-formed AFC had already agreed upon and set up their divisional alignment plan along almost purely geographic lines, team owners could not agree to a plan on how to align the clubs in the NFC. The alignment proposals were narrowed down to five finalists (each one sealed in an envelope), and then the plan that was eventually selected was picked out of a glass bowl by then-NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle's secretary, Thelma Elkjer, on January 16, 1970.
The five alignment plans for the NFC in 1970 were as follows, with Plan 3 eventually selected:
Three expansion teams have joined the NFC since the merger, thus making the current total 16. When the Seattle Seahawks and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers joined the league in 1976, they were temporarily placed in the NFC and AFC, respectively, for one season before they switched conferences. The Seahawks returned to the NFC as a result of the 2002 realignment. The Carolina Panthers joined the NFC in 1995.
Parity is generally greater among NFC teams than AFC teams. The only NFC team that has never made a Super Bowl appearance is the Detroit Lions. Since the 2002 division realignment, the NFC has sent 12 different teams to the Super Bowl, whereas the AFC has only sent 6: the Baltimore Ravens (1 time), the Oakland Raiders (1 time), the Denver Broncos (2 times), the Indianapolis Colts (2 times), the Pittsburgh Steelers (3 times) and the New England Patriots (8 times). The only NFC team to make back to back super bowls since 2002 are the Seattle Seahawks.
As of 2018, the only pre-merger team that does not play in its 1969 market is the St. Louis Cardinals, who moved in 1988 to Phoenix, Arizona. The Los Angeles Rams moved to St. Louis in 1995, but moved back to Los Angeles in 2016. None of the expansion teams added after 1970 have relocated.
With the exception of the aforementioned relocations since that time, the divisional setup established in 2002 has remained static ever since.
The original NFC logo, in use from 1970 to 2009, depicted a blue 'N' with three stars across it. The three stars represented the three divisions that were used from 1970 to 2001 (Eastern, Central and Western). The 2010 NFL season brought an updated NFC logo. Largely similar to the old logo, the new logo has a fourth star, representing the four divisions that have composed the NFC since 2002.
The 1971 NFL season was the 52nd regular season of the National Football League. The season ended with Super Bowl VI when the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Miami Dolphins 24–3 at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans. The Pro Bowl took place on January 23, 1972, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum; the AFC beat the NFC 26–13.1972 NFL season
The 1972 NFL season was the 53rd regular season of the National Football League. The Miami Dolphins became the first (and to date the only) NFL team to finish a championship season undefeated and untied when they beat the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII.1973 NFL season
The 1973 NFL season was the 54th regular season of the National Football League. The season was highlighted by O.J. Simpson becoming the first player to rush for 2,000 yards in one season.
The season ended with Super Bowl VIII when the Miami Dolphins repeated as league champions by defeating the Minnesota Vikings 24–7 at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas. The Pro Bowl took place on January 20, 1974, at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri; the AFC beat the NFC 15–13.1974 NFL season
The 1974 NFL season was the 55th regular season of the National Football League. The season ended with Super Bowl IX when the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Minnesota Vikings. Players held a strike from July 1 until August 10, prior to the regular season beginning; only one preseason game (that year's College All-Star Game) was canceled, and the preseason contests were held with all-rookie rosters.1975 Dallas Cowboys season
The 1975 Dallas Cowboys season was the team's sixteenth season in the National Football League (NFL) and their sixteenth under head coach Tom Landry. They finished second in the National Football Conference (NFC) East division with a 10–4 regular season record and advanced through the playoffs to Super Bowl X, where they were defeated by the Pittsburgh Steelers. They were also the first wild card team to reach the Super Bowl.1975 NFL season
The 1975 NFL season was the 56th regular season of the National Football League. It was the first NFL season without a tie game. The league made two significant changes to increase the appeal of the game:
The surviving clubs with the best regular season records were made the home teams for each playoff round. Previously, game sites rotated by division.
The league pioneered the use of equipping referees with wireless microphones to announce penalties and clarify complex and/or unusual rulings to both fans and the media.Instead of a traditional Thanksgiving Day game hosted by the Dallas Cowboys, the league scheduled a Buffalo Bills at St. Louis Cardinals contest. This was the first season since 1966 that the Cowboys did not play on that holiday.
The season ended with Super Bowl X when the Pittsburgh Steelers repeated as champions by defeating the Dallas Cowboys 21–17 at the Orange Bowl in Miami.1976 NFL season
The 1976 NFL season was the 57th regular season of the National Football League. The year 1976 was also the Bicentennial of the United States although the NFL did not issue its own Bicentennial patch. The Dallas Cowboys did modify their helmet (red, white and blue stripes) to honor the year, and were the only NFL team to recognize the Bicentennial.The league expanded to 28 teams with the addition of the Seattle Seahawks and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This fulfilled one of the conditions agreed to in 1966 for the 1970 AFL–NFL merger, which called for the league to expand to 28 teams by 1970 or soon thereafter.
For this season only, the Seahawks played in the NFC West while the Buccaneers played in the AFC West. The Seahawks would return to the NFC West with the realignment prior to the 2002 season. The Buccaneers would set a record of futility, becoming the first NFL team to finish a season 0–14. The Buccaneers would go on to lose their first 26 games as a franchise before finally winning against the New Orleans Saints and St. Louis Cardinals to finish the 1977 season.
The New York Giants finally opened their new Giants Stadium after spending two seasons at the Yale Bowl and one season at Shea Stadium.
The season ended with Super Bowl XI when the Oakland Raiders defeated the Minnesota Vikings 32–14 in the Rose Bowl.1978 NFL season
The 1978 NFL season was the 59th regular season of the National Football League. The league expanded the regular season from a 14-game schedule to 16. Furthermore, the playoff format was expanded from 8 teams to 10 teams by adding another wild card from each conference. The wild card teams played each other, with the winner advancing to the playoff round of eight teams.
The season ended with Super Bowl XIII when the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Dallas Cowboys at the Orange Bowl in Miami.
The average salary for a player in 1978 was under $62,600, up 13.2 percent over the previous year. Fran Tarkenton was the highest-paid quarterback at $360,000 and running back O. J. Simpson was the highest paid player, at just under $733,400.1979 NFL season
The 1979 NFL season was the 60th regular season of the National Football League. The season ended with Super Bowl XIV when the Pittsburgh Steelers repeated as champions by defeating the Los Angeles Rams 31–19 at the Rose Bowl. The Steelers became the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls twice. It was also the 20th anniversary of the American Football League.1980 NFL season
The 1980 NFL season was the 61st regular season of the National Football League.
Prior to the season in March 1980, fellow NFL owners voted against the proposed move by the Raiders from Oakland, California to Los Angeles. Raider team owner Al Davis along with the Los Angeles Coliseum sued the NFL charging that they had violated antitrust laws. A verdict in the trial would not be decided until before the 1982 NFL season; however, the planned move to Los Angeles went through that very season.
Meanwhile, the season ended at Super Bowl XV played on January 25, 1981, in New Orleans, Louisiana, with these same Oakland Raiders defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 27–10, making them the first Wild Card team ever to win the Super Bowl.1983 NFL season
The 1983 NFL season was the 64th regular season of the National Football League. The season ended with Super Bowl XVIII when the Los Angeles Raiders defeated the Washington Redskins 38–9 at Tampa Stadium in Florida.1997 NFL season
The 1997 NFL season was the 78th regular season of the National Football League. The Oilers relocated from Houston, Texas to Nashville, Tennessee. The newly renamed Tennessee Oilers played their home games during this season at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee while construction of a new stadium in Nashville started. Houston would rejoin the NFL with the expansion Texans in 2002.
This was the last season to date that TNT broadcast NFL games, as well as the last for NBC until 2006. When the TV contracts were renewed near the end of the season, Fox retained the National Football Conference package, CBS took over the American Football Conference package and ESPN won the right to televise all of the Sunday night games.
Due to Game 7 of the 1997 World Series, the Chicago Bears–Miami Dolphins game at Pro Player Stadium was delayed one day to Monday, October 27.
The Denver Broncos and Tampa Bay Buccaneers both changed their uniforms, and the new uniforms for both teams were introduced during this season.
The season ended with Super Bowl XXXII when the Denver Broncos defeated the Green Bay Packers 31–24 at Qualcomm Stadium. This broke the National Football Conference's streak of thirteen consecutive Super Bowl victories, the last American Football Conference win having been the Los Angeles Raiders defeating the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII.List of NFC Championship Game broadcasters
The following is a list of the television and radio networks and announcers who have broadcast the National Football Conference Championship Game throughout the years. The years listed concentrate on the season instead of the calendar year that the game took place. The forerunner to the NFC Championship Game (prior to the 1970 AFL–NFL merger) was the NFL Championship Game.List of Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees
The Pro Football Hall of Fame includes players, coaches, and contributors (e.g., owners, general managers and team or league officials) who have "made outstanding contributions to professional football". The charter class of seventeen was selected in 1963. As of 2019, 326 individuals have been elected.Enshrinees are selected by a 48-person selection committee which meets each year at the time and location of the Super Bowl. Current rules of the committee stipulate that between four and eight individuals are selected each year. Any person may nominate an individual to the hall, provided the nominee has not played or coached for at least five seasons prior to the nomination. Not including the charter class, 76 players have been inducted in their first year of eligibility.In addition to the regular selection committee, which primarily focuses on contributions made over the past approximately thirty seasons, a nine-member seniors committee (which is a subset of the larger committee) submits two nominees each year whose contributions came prior to 1985. These nominees are referred as "seniors nominees" (formerly "old-timer" nominees).NFC Championship Game
The NFC Championship Game is the annual championship game of the National Football Conference (NFC) and one of the two semi-final playoff games of the National Football League (NFL), the largest professional American football league in the United States. The game is played on the penultimate Sunday in January by the two remaining playoff teams, following the NFC postseason's first two rounds. The NFC champion then advances to face the winner of the American Football Conference (AFC) Championship Game in the Super Bowl.
The game was established as part of the 1970 merger between the NFL and the American Football League (AFL), with the merged league realigning into two conferences. Since 1984, each winner of the NFC Championship Game has also received the George Halas Trophy, named after the founder and longtime owner of the NFL's Chicago Bears, George Halas.NFC East
The National Football Conference – Eastern Division or NFC East is one of the four divisions of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL). It currently has four members: the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Washington Redskins.
The division was formed in 1967 as the National Football League Capitol Division, keeping with the theme of having all of the league's divisions starting with the letter "C." The division was so named because it was centered on the capital of the United States, Washington, D.C. In 1967 and 1969 the teams in the NFL Capitol Division were Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington and the expansion team New Orleans Saints, which had been replaced by the New York Giants for the 1968 season. As of 2018, the NFC East is the only division in the league in which all four current teams have at least one Super Bowl win.NFC North
The National Football Conference – Northern Division or NFC North is one of the four divisions of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL). Nicknamed the "Black & Blue Division" for the rough and tough rivalry games between the teams, it currently has four members: the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, and Minnesota Vikings. The NFC North was previously known as the NFC Central from 1970 to 2001. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were previously members, from 1977, one year after they joined the league as an expansion team, until 2001 when they moved to the NFC South.
The division was created in 1967 as the Central Division of the NFL's Western Conference and existed for three seasons before the AFL–NFL merger. After the merger, it was renamed the NFC Central and retained that name until the NFL split into eight divisions in 2002. The four current division teams have been together in the same division or conference since the Vikings joined the league in 1961. The Bears, Lions and Packers have been in the same division or conference since the NFL began a conference format in 1933. Largely because the four teams have played each other at least twice a year, with the exception of the strike-shortened 1982 season, for more than half a century (more than 80 years in the case of the Bears, Lions and Packers), the entire division is considered one very large rivalry.
Based on the combined ages of its current teams, the NFC North is the oldest division in the NFL, at a combined 344 years old. The Bears are 99 years old (founded in 1919 in Decatur, Illinois; moved to Chicago in 1921), the Packers are also 99 years old (founded in 1919, but turned professional in 1921), the Lions are 89 years old (founded 1929 in Portsmouth, Ohio; moved to Detroit in 1934), and the Vikings are 57 years old (founded 1961). The division has a total of 11 Super Bowl appearances. The Packers have the most appearances in the Super Bowl with 5, the most recent happening at the conclusion of the 2010 season. The Bears and the Packers have the only Super Bowl wins of this division, a total of 5 (4 for the Packers and 1 for the Bears). Of the top 10 NFL teams with the highest winning percentage throughout its franchise history, three of them are in the NFC North (the Bears, the Packers, and the Vikings). The Lions however, have one of the lowest winning percentages in the NFL, including the first winless 16-game season in NFL history, in 2008.Entering 2018 the Bears led the division with an overall record of 752–581–42, victory in Super Bowl XX and eight pre-Super Bowl league titles; Chicago's overall playoff record is 17–18. The Packers hold an overall record of 740–564–38 with an overall playoff record of 34–22, four Super Bowl titles in five Super Bowl appearances, and nine pre-Super Bowl league titles - bringing the Packers to a total of 13 World Championships, currently the most in the NFL. The Lions hold a record of 555–651–32, four league championships, and a 7–13 playoff record. As the youngest (in terms of franchise age) team in the division, the Vikings hold a record of 473–392–11, a playoff record of 20-29, and had won a league title the season before the merger (although they subsequently lost Super Bowl IV).
This division earned the moniker "Black and Blue Division" due to its intense rivalries and physical style of play, and this nickname is still used regularly today. It is also known as the "Frostbite Division" as all teams played home games in late season winter cold until the mid-1970s. The division is also humorously called the "Frozen North", although Detroit has played its home games indoors since 1975, and Minnesota also did so from 1982 to 2013 and returned to indoor home games at U.S. Bank Stadium in 2016. ESPN sportscaster Chris Berman often refers to this division as the "NFC Norris" because of its geographical similarity to the National Hockey League's former Norris Division.NFC South
The National Football Conference – Southern Division or NFC South is one of the four divisions of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL). It was created prior to the 2002 NFL season, when the league realigned divisions after expanding to 32 teams. The NFC South currently has four member clubs: the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Prior to the 2002 season, the Buccaneers belonged to the AFC West (1976) and NFC Central (1977–2001), while the other three teams were part of the geographically inaccurate NFC West. As a matter of fact, the South has more multiple-season members of the old NFC West than the current NFC West does (the Seattle Seahawks are in the current West, but they only played in that division during their inaugural season).
The NFC South is the only division since the 2002 realignment to have each of its teams make a conference championship game appearance as well as a Super Bowl appearance: Tampa Bay (2002), Atlanta (2004, 2012, and 2016), Carolina (2003, 2005 and 2015), and New Orleans (2006, 2009, and 2018). Also since 2002, each team has won at least three division titles, the only such division in the league. It is also the only NFL division to have zero division sweeps by any of its member teams.
Entering 2016, the Saints have the most wins among division members. The Saints record is 356–435–5; their win in Super Bowl XLIV is the highlight of an 8–9 playoff record. The Falcons record is 330–432–6 with a playoff record of 9–13; the Falcons lost in Super Bowls XXXIII and LI, the latter in overtime. The Buccaneers record is 241–386–1 with a victory in their only Super Bowl appearance, Super Bowl XXXVII, and an overall playoff record of 6–9. The Panthers have the best playoff record (9–8) of any team in the division with losses in Super Bowls XXXVIII and 50 and the best overall record in the division (166–169–1).
The NFC South is the only NFC division not to have any teams that predate the 1960 launch of the American Football League, the NFL’s former rival league. The oldest team is the Falcons, who began play in 1966, and the Saints began play only a year later in 1967. Each of the other NFC divisions has 3 teams that began play earlier than 1960, while the remaining three such teams are in the American Football Conference.
The NFC South became the second division in five years to have a champion with a losing record, as the 2014 Carolina Panthers won the division with a 7–8–1 record. (The 2010 Seattle Seahawks won the NFC West with a 7–9 record.) Additionally, Carolina became the first team to repeat as NFC South champions since the creation of the division. The Panthers are the only team to win the NFC South three consecutive times from 2013 to 2015. On January 7, 2018 two NFC South teams (Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints) met in the NFL playoffs for the first time since the division was created in 2002.NFC West
The National Football Conference – Western Division or NFC West is one of the four divisions of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL). It currently has four members: the Arizona Cardinals, the Los Angeles Rams, the San Francisco 49ers, and the Seattle Seahawks.
The division was formed in 1967 as the National Football League Coastal Division, keeping with the theme of having all of the league's divisions starting with the letter "C." The division was so named because its teams were fairly close to the coasts of the United States, although they were on opposite coasts, making for long travel between division rivals. The NFL Coastal Division had four members: Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Colts, Los Angeles Rams, and San Francisco 49ers. Los Angeles and San Francisco occupied the West Coast, while Baltimore and Atlanta occupied the East Coast.
After the AFL–NFL merger in 1970, the division was renamed the NFC West. The Baltimore Colts moved to the AFC East and were replaced by the New Orleans Saints. In 1976, the newly formed Seattle Seahawks spent one season in this division before moving to the AFC West. Except for that one year, the division remained the same until 1995 with the addition of the new Carolina Panthers team. The Rams moved to St. Louis before that same season, making the division geographically inaccurate. Ten of the fifteen NFC teams were based west of Atlanta, and twelve of them were based west of Charlotte.
The 2002 re-alignment changed the entire look of the NFC West. The Falcons, Panthers, and Saints moved into the NFC South; while the Cardinals moved in from the NFC East and the Seahawks returned from the AFC West. The Rams remained in the West, preserving the historical rivalry with the 49ers that has existed since 1950, and thus had been the only team in the division that was located east of the Rocky Mountains until 2015. With the Rams' return to Los Angeles in 2016, the entire NFC West is now located west of the Rockies for the first time in its history.
In 2010, the NFC West became the first division in NFL history to have a champion with a losing record, after the 2010 Seattle Seahawks won the division title with a record of 7–9. They were joined in this distinction in 2014 by the Carolina Panthers, who won the NFC South with a record of 7–8–1.
Since the end of the 2016 NFL regular season, the 49ers lead the division with a record of 560–464–16 (107–132–1 since re-alignment) with five Super Bowl titles and an overall playoff record of 31–21. The Rams hold a record of 544–554–21 (87–152–1 since re-alignment) with three Super Bowl appearances and one win to go with a 19–24 overall playoffs record. The Cardinals hold a 111–128-1 record since joining the NFC West (542–732–40 overall) and a loss in Super Bowl XLIII, currently with a 7–9 playoff record, 5-4 as a member of the NFC West. The Seahawks hold a record of 137–102-1 since joining the NFC West (325–318-1 overall), with three Super Bowl appearances, winning Super Bowl XLVIII to go with a playoff record of 16–14; they are currently 13–9 in the playoffs as a member of the NFC West, having gone 3–5 while in the AFC West. Since re-alignment, the Seahawks have led the division in wins, division titles, and playoff appearances.