List of NFL champions (1920–69)

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A group of 18 men, 11 standing in back and seven sitting in front. Above the men, centered in the middle of the poster, is text that says "Worlds Champs". Under that is the phrase "Akron Professionals" - the year 1920 is placed between "Akron" and "Professionals".
The 1920 Akron Pros were named the first APFA (NFL) champions.

The National Football League champions, prior to the merger between the National Football League (NFL) and American Football League (AFL) in 1970, were determined by two different systems. The National Football League was established on September 17, 1920 as the American Professional Football Association (APFA). The APFA changed its name in 1922 to the National Football League, which it has retained ever since.[1] From 1920 to 1931, the APFA/NFL determined its champion by overall win–loss record, with no playoff games;[2] ties were not counted in the winning percentage total.[3] Although the APFA did not keep records of the 1920 season, they declared the Akron Pros, who finished the season with an 8–0–3 (8 wins, 0 losses, 3 ties) record, as the league's first champions. The Canton Bulldogs won two straight championships from 1922 to 1923, and the Green Bay Packers won three in a row from 1929 to 1931.[4]

The 1932 NFL season resulted in a tie for first place between the Chicago Bears and Portsmouth Spartans, and could not be resolved by the typical win–loss system. To settle the tie, a playoff game was played; Chicago won the game and the championship. The following year the NFL split into two divisions, and the winner of each division would play in the NFL Championship Game.[2] In 1967, the NFL and the rival AFL agreed to merge, effective following the 1969 season;[5] as part of this deal, the NFL champion from 1966 to 1969 would play the AFL champion in an AFL–NFL World Championship Game in each of the four seasons before the completed merger. The NFL Championship Game was ended after the 1969 season, succeeded by the NFC Championship Game.[2][6] The champions of that game play the champions of the AFC Championship Game in the Super Bowl to determine the NFL champion.[2]

The Green Bay Packers won the most NFL championships before the merger, winning eleven of the fifty championships. The Packers were also the only team to win three straight championships, an achievement they accomplished twice: from 1929–31 and from 1965–67. The Chicago Bears won a total of eight titles, and the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, and New York Giants each won four. The Bears recorded the largest victory in a championship game, defeating the Washington Redskins 73–0 in the 1940 NFL Championship Game; six other title games ended in a shutout as well. The Philadelphia Eagles recorded two consecutive shutouts in 1948 and 1949. New York City hosted the most championship games (eight), while the highest-attended title game was the 1955 NFL Championship Game, where 85,693 fans showed up in Los Angeles to watch the Browns beat the Rams 38–14.[4]

APFA/NFL champions (1920–32)[edit]

Champion determined by win–loss percentage. The number in parentheses indicates the number of championships the franchise had won to that point.

Season Champion Wins Losses Ties[A] Pct. Runner-up Wins Losses Ties[A] Pct. Ref.
1920[B] Akron Pros 8 0 3 1.000 Decatur Staleys 10 1 2 .909 [4]
1921[C] Chicago Staleys 9 1 1 .900 Buffalo All-Americans 9 1 2 .900 [4]
1922 Canton Bulldogs 10 0 1 1.000 Chicago Bears 9 3 0 .750 [4]
1923 Canton Bulldogs (2) 11 0 1 1.000 Chicago Bears 9 2 1 .818 [4]
1924 Cleveland Bulldogs 7 1 1 .875 Chicago Bears 6 1 4 .857 [4]
1925 Chicago Cardinals[D] 11 2 1 .846 Pottsville Maroons 10 2 0 .833 [9]
1926 Frankford Yellow Jackets 14 1 2 .933 Chicago Bears 12 1 3 .923 [9]
1927 New York Giants 11 1 1 .917 Green Bay Packers 7 2 1 .778 [9]
1928 Providence Steam Roller 8 1 2 .889 Frankford Yellow Jackets 11 3 2 .786 [9]
1929 Green Bay Packers 12 0 1 1.000 New York Giants 13 1 1 .929 [9]
1930 Green Bay Packers (2) 10 3 1 .769 New York Giants 13 4 0 .765 [9]
1931 Green Bay Packers (3) 12 2 0 .857 Portsmouth Spartans 11 3 0 .786 [9]
1932[E] Chicago Bears (2) 7 1 6 .875 Green Bay Packers 10 3 1 .769 [9]

NFL champions (1933–69)[edit]

Numbers in parentheses in the table indicate the number of times that team won the NFL championship as of the championship game.

Divisions/Conferences
Eastern Division (1933–49) Western Division (1933–49)^
American Conference (1950–52) National Conference (1950–52)^
Eastern Conference (1953–69) Western Conference (1953–69)^
Season Date Winning team Score Losing team Site Attendance Ref.(s)
1933 December 17, 1933 Chicago Bears (3)^ 23–21 New York Giants Chicago 26,000 [6][9]
1934 December 9, 1934 New York Giants (2) 30–13 Chicago Bears^ New York 35,059 [6][9]
1935 December 15, 1935 Detroit Lions 26–7 New York Giants Detroit 15,000 [6][9]
1936 December 13, 1936 Green Bay Packers (4)^ 21–6 Boston Redskins New York (2) 29,545 [6][9]
1937 December 12, 1937 Washington Redskins 28–21 Chicago Bears^ Chicago (2) 15,870 [6][9]
1938 December 11, 1938 New York Giants (3) 23–17 Green Bay Packers^ New York (3) 48,120 [6][10]
1939 December 10, 1939 Green Bay Packers (5)^ 27–0 New York Giants Milwaukee 32,279 [6][10]
1940 December 8, 1940 Chicago Bears (4)^ 73–0 Washington Redskins Washington 36,034 [6][10]
1941 December 21, 1941 Chicago Bears (5)^ 37–9 New York Giants Chicago (3) 13,341 [6][10]
1942 December 13, 1942 Washington Redskins (2) 14–6 Chicago Bears^ Washington (2) 36,006 [6][10]
1943 December 26, 1943 Chicago Bears (6)^ 41–21 Washington Redskins Chicago (4) 34,320 [6][10]
1944 December 17, 1944 Green Bay Packers (6)^ 14–7 New York Giants New York (4) 46,016 [6][10]
1945 December 16, 1945 Cleveland Rams^ 15–14 Washington Redskins Cleveland 32,178 [6][10]
1946 December 15, 1946 Chicago Bears (7)^ 24–14 New York Giants New York (5) 58,346 [6][10]
1947 December 28, 1947 Chicago Cardinals (2)^ 28–21 Philadelphia Eagles Chicago (5) 30,759 [6][10]
1948 December 19, 1948 Philadelphia Eagles 7–0 Chicago Cardinals^ Philadelphia 36,309 [6][10]
1949 December 18, 1949 Philadelphia Eagles (2) 14–0 Los Angeles Rams^ Los Angeles 27,980 [6][10]
1950 December 24, 1950 Cleveland Browns 30–28 Los Angeles Rams^ Cleveland (2) 29,751 [6][11]
1951 December 23, 1951 Los Angeles Rams (2)^ 24–17 Cleveland Browns Los Angeles (2) 57,522 [11][12]
1952 December 28, 1952 Detroit Lions (2)^ 17–0 Cleveland Browns Cleveland (3) 50,934 [11][12]
1953 December 27, 1953 Detroit Lions (3)^ 17–16 Cleveland Browns Detroit (2) 54,577 [11][12]
1954 December 26, 1954 Cleveland Browns (2) 56–10 Detroit Lions^ Cleveland (4) 43,827 [11][12]
1955 December 26, 1955 Cleveland Browns (3) 38–14 Los Angeles Rams^ Los Angeles (3) 85,693 [11][12]
1956 December 30, 1956 New York Giants (4) 47–7 Chicago Bears^ New York (6) 56,836 [11][12]
1957 December 29, 1957 Detroit Lions (4)^ 59–14 Cleveland Browns Detroit (3) 55,263 [11][12]
1958 December 28, 1958 Baltimore Colts^ 23–17 New York Giants New York (7) 64,185 [11][12]
1959 December 27, 1959 Baltimore Colts (2)^ 31–16 New York Giants Baltimore 57,545 [11][12]
1960 December 26, 1960 Philadelphia Eagles (3) 17–13 Green Bay Packers^ Philadelphia (2) 67,325 [12][13]
1961 December 31, 1961 Green Bay Packers (7)^ 37–0 New York Giants Green Bay 39,029 [12][13]
1962 December 29, 1962 Green Bay Packers (8)^ 16–7 New York Giants New York (8) 64,892 [12][13]
1963 December 29, 1963 Chicago Bears (8)^ 14–10 New York Giants Chicago (6) 45,801 [12][13]
1964 December 27, 1964 Cleveland Browns (4) 27–0 Baltimore Colts^ Cleveland (5) 79,544 [12][13]
1965 January 2, 1966 Green Bay Packers (9)^ 23–12 Cleveland Browns Green Bay (2) 50,777 [12][13]
1966 January 1, 1967 Green Bay Packers (10)[F]^ 34–27 Dallas Cowboys Dallas 74,152 [12][13]
1967 December 31, 1967 Green Bay Packers (11)[G]^ 21–17 Dallas Cowboys Green Bay (3) 50,861 [12][13]
1968 December 29, 1968 Baltimore Colts (3)[H]^ 34–0 Cleveland Browns Cleveland (6) 78,410 [12][13]
1969 January 4, 1970 Minnesota Vikings[I]^ 27–7 Cleveland Browns Bloomington 46,503 [12][13]

Total championships won[edit]

Club Winners Runners-up Winning years
Green Bay Packers 11 4 1929, 1930, 1931, 1936, 1939, 1944, 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1967
Decatur Staleys/Chicago Staleys/Chicago Bears 8 9 1921, 1932, 1933, 1940, 1941, 1943, 1946, 1963
Cleveland Browns 4 7 1950, 1954, 1955, 1964
Portsmouth Spartans/Detroit Lions 4 2 1935, 1952, 1953, 1957
New York Giants 4 13 1927, 1934, 1938, 1956
Baltimore Colts 3 1 1958, 1959, 1968
Philadelphia Eagles 3 1 1948, 1949, 1960
Canton Bulldogs 2 0 1922, 1923
Chicago Cardinals 2 1 1925, 1947
Cleveland Rams/Los Angeles Rams 2 3 1945, 1951
Boston Redskins/Washington Redskins 2 4 1937, 1942
Minnesota Vikings 1 0 1969
Akron Pros 1 0 1920
Frankford Yellow Jackets 1 1 1926
Providence Steam Roller 1 0 1928
Dallas Cowboys 0 2 N/A
Buffalo All-Americans 0 1 N/A
Pottsville Maroons 0 1 N/A

Notes[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ a b Ties were disregarded in the standings.[3]
  2. ^ No official standings were recorded for the 1920 season and teams played games against opponents outside of the league. The championship was awarded to the Akron Pros in an APFA meeting on April 30, 1921.[2]
  3. ^ Chicago beat Buffalo on a controversial tiebreaker.[7]
  4. ^ Chicago was awarded the championship controversially because the Maroons had been suspended from the NFL for playing an exhibition game against a group of Notre Dame All-Stars.[8]
  5. ^ Chicago and Portsmouth finished with identical win–loss records, tying for first place in the NFL. To solve the tie, a playoff game was held between the two, counting towards the regular-season total. Chicago won the game and the championship while Portsmouth's loss dropped them to third place, behind Green Bay.[9]
  6. ^ Green Bay beat the American Football League's Kansas City Chiefs 35–10 in Super Bowl I.[13]
  7. ^ Green Bay beat the AFL's Oakland Raiders 33–14 in Super Bowl II.[13]
  8. ^ Baltimore lost to the AFL's New York Jets 16–7 in Super Bowl III.[13]
  9. ^ Minnesota lost to the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs 23–7 in Super Bowl IV.[13]
Footnotes
  1. ^ "Sept. 17, 1920 – The Founding of the NFL". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved July 9, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "NFL Champions". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved January 15, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Piascik, Andy (2005). "Old and New Style: Winning Percentages". The Coffin Corner (Professional Football Researchers Association) 27 (5). Retrieved January 16, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Past Standings, p. 27
  5. ^ Bell, Jarrett (June 30, 2009). "From upstart to big time, how the AFL changed the NFL". USA Today. Retrieved 15 January 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Playoff Game Summaries, p. 4
  7. ^ Snyder, Gib (January 6, 2012). "Buffalo: A city cursed with bad sports luck". The Observer. Ogden Newspapers. Retrieved January 16, 2013. 
  8. ^ Nelson, Robert (January 11, 2007). "The Curse". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved January 30, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Past Standings, p. 26
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Past Standings, p. 25
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Past Standings, p. 24
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Playoff Game Summaries, p. 3
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Past Standings, p. 22

References[edit]

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