National Football Conference

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National Football Conference
National Football Conference logo.svg
National Football Conference logo (2010–present)
League National Football League
Sport American football
Formerly National Football League, pre 1970 AFL–NFL merger
Founded 1970; 46 years ago (1970)
Teams
No. of teams 16
Championships
Most recent National Football Conference champion(s) Carolina Panthers (2nd title)
Most National Football Conference titles Dallas Cowboys (8 titles)

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 each, making up the 32 teams of the NFL. 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 forming the NFC. A series of league expansions and division realignments have occurred since the merger, thus making the current total 16 clubs per each conference.

Since the 1970 AFL–NFL merger, the Dallas Cowboys lead the NFC with the most conference titles (8). The current NFC title holder is the Carolina Panthers.

Current teams[edit]

Since 2002, the NFC has 16 teams, organized into four divisions each with four teams: East, North, South, and West.

Division Team City Stadium
East Dallas Cowboys Arlington, TX AT&T Stadium
New York Giants East Rutherford, NJ MetLife Stadium
Philadelphia Eagles Philadelphia, PA Lincoln Financial Field
Washington Redskins Landover, MD FedExField
North Chicago Bears Chicago, IL Soldier Field
Detroit Lions Detroit, MI Ford Field
Green Bay Packers Green Bay, WI Lambeau Field
Minnesota Vikings Minneapolis, MN U.S. Bank Stadium
South Atlanta Falcons Atlanta, GA Georgia Dome
Carolina Panthers Charlotte, NC Bank of America Stadium
New Orleans Saints New Orleans, LA Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tampa, FL Raymond James Stadium
West Arizona Cardinals Glendale, AZ University of Phoenix Stadium
Los Angeles Rams Los Angeles, CA Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
San Francisco 49ers Santa Clara, CA Levi's Stadium
Seattle Seahawks Seattle, WA CenturyLink Field

Season structure[edit]

POS AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West
1st Patriots Bengals Texans Broncos
2nd Jets Steelers Colts Chiefs
3rd Bills Ravens Jaguars Raiders
4th Dolphins Browns Titans Chargers
POS NFC East NFC North NFC South NFC West
1st Redskins Vikings Panthers Cardinals
2nd Eagles Packers Falcons Seahawks
3rd Giants Lions Saints Rams
4th Cowboys Bears Buccaneers 49ers
This chart of the 2015 season standings displays an application of the NFL scheduling formula. The Panthers in 2015 (highlighted in green) finished in first place in the NFC South. Thus, in 2016, the Panthers will play two games against each of its division rivals (highlighted in light blue), one game against each team in the NFC West and AFC West (highlighted in yellow), and one game each against the first-place finishers in the NFC East and NFC North (highlighted in orange).

Currently, the thirteen opponents each team faces over the 16-game regular season schedule are set using a pre-determined formula:[1] 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 top six teams in the conference proceeds into the playoff. These teams consist of the four division winners and the top two wild card teams. The NFC playoffs culminate in the NFC Championship Game with the winner receiving the George Halas Trophy. The NFC Champion then plays the AFC Champion in the Super Bowl.

History[edit]

Original National Football Conference logo (1970-2009)

Both the AFC and NFC were created after the NFL merged with the American Football League (AFL) in 1970.[2] 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 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.

However, 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, and then the plan that was eventually selected was picked out of a glass bowl by then-NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle's secretary, on January 16, 1970.[3]

The five alignment plans for the NFC in 1970 were as follows, with Plan 3 eventually selected:

  • Plan 1
    • Eastern - Atlanta, Minnesota, New York Giants, Philadelphia, Washington
    • Central - Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, New Orleans
    • Western - Dallas, Los Angeles Rams, St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco
  • Plan 2
    • Eastern - Minnesota, New York Giants, Philadelphia, Washington
    • Central - Atlanta, Dallas, New Orleans, St. Louis Cardinals
    • Western - Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco
  • Plan 3
    • Eastern - Dallas, New York Giants, Philadelphia, St. Louis Cardinals, Washington
    • Central - Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Minnesota
    • Western - Atlanta, Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans, San Francisco
  • Plan 4
    • Eastern - Minnesota, New York Giants, Philadelphia, St. Louis Cardinals, Washington
    • Central - Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay
    • Western - Dallas, New Orleans, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco
  • Plan 5
    • Eastern - Detroit, Minnesota, New York Giants, Philadelphia, Washington
    • Central - Chicago, Dallas, Green Bay, St. Louis Cardinals
    • Western - Atlanta, Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans, San Francisco

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 realignment, the only time that an NFC team made back-to-back Super Bowl appearances was the Seattle Seahawks in 2013 and 2014. And between 2000 and 2015, the NFC has sent 11 different teams to the Super Bowl, whereas the AFC had sent only six: the Baltimore Ravens (2 times), the Denver Broncos (2 time), the Indianapolis Colts (2 times), the Oakland Raiders (1 time), the New England Patriots (6 times), and the Pittsburgh Steelers (3 times).

[edit]

The original NFC logo, in use from 1970–2009, depicted a blue 'N' with three stars across it. The three stars represented the three divisions that were used from 1970-2001 (Eastern, Central and Western).[4] 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.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "2012 Opponents Determined" (PDF). NFL. January 2, 2012. Retrieved January 23, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Pro Football - History". Retrieved 2009-04-03. 
  3. ^ Stellino, Vito (1999-10-07). "NFL to try realign play". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  4. ^ "National Football Conference Logo". Retrieved 2009-12-29. 
  5. ^ Paul Lukas. "But I Absolutely Refuse to Write About the Draft Caps". Uni Watch blog. Retrieved 2010-04-16.