National Football League (NFL) | History, Teams, & Facts (2024)

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Also known as: APFA, American Professional Football Association, NFL

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National Football League (NFL), major American professional football organization, founded in 1920 in Canton, Ohio, as the American Professional Football Association. Its first president was Jim Thorpe, an outstanding American athlete who was also a player in the league. The NFL’s present name was adopted in 1922.

History

The league began play in 1920 and comprised five teams from Ohio (Akron Pros, Canton Bulldogs, Cleveland Tigers, Columbus Panhandlers, and Dayton Triangles), four teams from Illinois (Chicago Tigers, Decatur Staleys, Racine Cardinals [the Cardinals were based in Chicago but took the name of a local street], and Rock Island Independents), two from Indiana (Hammond Pros and Muncie Flyers), two from New York (Buffalo All-Americans and Rochester Jeffersons), and the Detroit Heralds from Michigan. Of these original franchises, only two remain: the Cardinals left Chicago for St. Louis after the 1959 season and relocated to Arizona in 1988; the Decatur Staleys moved to Chicago in 1921 and a year later changed their name to the Bears.

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The NFL survived many years of instability and competition from rival organizations to became the strongest American professional football league. The most serious challenge to its leading role came from the American Football League (AFL) in the 1960s. The NFL and AFL completed a merger in 1970, creating a 26-team circuit under the name of the older NFL. Since then the league has expanded four times, adding six new franchises.

For a more complete history of football and the NFL, see American football.

The league’s 32 teams are aligned as follows:

National Football Conference (NFC)
  • NFC East: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Commanders

  • NFC North: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings

  • NFC South: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • NFC West: Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks

American Football Conference (AFC)
  • AFC East: Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Jets

  • AFC North: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers

  • AFC South: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans

  • AFC West: Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers

The league season culminates with an annual 14-team playoff tournament leading to the Super Bowl championship game. Some NFL teams also play regular-season games outside of the United States; these games have been held in England, Mexico, and Germany.

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The NFL has headquarters in New York City and since 1963 has maintained the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

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Super Bowl results

Super Bowl results are provided in the table.

Super Bowl*
season result
*NFL-AFL championship 1966–70. NFL championship from 1970–71 season onward.
**The game was won in overtime.
I 1966–67 Green Bay Packers (NFL) 35 Kansas City Chiefs (AFL) 10
II 1967–68 Green Bay Packers (NFL) 33 Oakland Raiders (AFL) 14
III 1968–69 New York Jets (AFL) 16 Baltimore Colts (NFL) 7
IV 1969–70 Kansas City Chiefs (AFL) 23 Minnesota Vikings (NFL) 7
V 1970–71 Baltimore Colts (AFC) 16 Dallas Cowboys (NFC) 13
VI 1971–72 Dallas Cowboys (NFC) 24 Miami Dolphins (AFC) 3
VII 1972–73 Miami Dolphins (AFC) 14 Washington Redskins (NFC) 7
VIII 1973–74 Miami Dolphins (AFC) 24 Minnesota Vikings (NFC) 7
IX 1974–75 Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC) 16 Minnesota Vikings (NFC) 6
X 1975–76 Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC) 21 Dallas Cowboys (NFC) 17
XI 1976–77 Oakland Raiders (AFC) 32 Minnesota Vikings (NFC) 14
XII 1977–78 Dallas Cowboys (NFC) 27 Denver Broncos (AFC) 10
XIII 1978–79 Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC) 35 Dallas Cowboys (NFC) 31
XIV 1979–80 Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC) 31 Los Angeles Rams (NFC) 19
XV 1980–81 Oakland Raiders (AFC) 27 Philadelphia Eagles (NFC) 10
XVI 1981–82 San Francisco 49ers (NFC) 26 Cincinnati Bengals (AFC) 21
XVII 1982–83 Washington Redskins (NFC) 27 Miami Dolphins (AFC) 17
XVIII 1983–84 Los Angeles Raiders (AFC) 38 Washington Redskins (NFC) 9
XIX 1984–85 San Francisco 49ers (NFC) 38 Miami Dolphins (AFC) 16
XX 1985–86 Chicago Bears (NFC) 46 New England Patriots (AFC) 10
XXI 1986–87 New York Giants (NFC) 39 Denver Broncos (AFC) 20
XXII 1987–88 Washington Redskins (NFC) 42 Denver Broncos (AFC) 10
XXIII 1988–89 San Francisco 49ers (NFC) 20 Cincinnati Bengals (AFC) 16
XXIV 1989–90 San Francisco 49ers (NFC) 55 Denver Broncos (AFC) 10
XXV 1990–91 New York Giants (NFC) 20 Buffalo Bills (AFC) 19
XXVI 1991–92 Washington Redskins (NFC) 37 Buffalo Bills (AFC) 24
XXVII 1992–93 Dallas Cowboys (NFC) 52 Buffalo Bills (AFC) 17
XXVIII 1993–94 Dallas Cowboys (NFC) 30 Buffalo Bills (AFC) 13
XXIX 1994–95 San Francisco 49ers (NFC) 49 San Diego Chargers (AFC) 26
XXX 1995–96 Dallas Cowboys (NFC) 27 Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC) 17
XXXI 1996–97 Green Bay Packers (NFC) 35 New England Patriots (AFC) 21
XXXII 1997–98 Denver Broncos (AFC) 31 Green Bay Packers (NFC) 24
XXXIII 1998–99 Denver Broncos (AFC) 34 Atlanta Falcons (NFC) 19
XXXIV 1999–2000 St. Louis Rams (NFC) 23 Tennessee Titans (AFC) 16
XXXV 2000–01 Baltimore Ravens (AFC) 34 New York Giants (NFC) 7
XXXVI 2001–02 New England Patriots (AFC) 20 St. Louis Rams (NFC) 17
XXXVII 2002–03 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFC) 48 Oakland Raiders (AFC) 21
XXXVIII 2003–04 New England Patriots (AFC) 32 Carolina Panthers (NFC) 29
XXXIX 2004–05 New England Patriots (AFC) 24 Philadelphia Eagles (NFC) 21
XL 2005–06 Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC) 21 Seattle Seahawks (NFC) 10
XLI 2006–07 Indianapolis Colts (AFC) 29 Chicago Bears (NFC) 17
XLII 2007–08 New York Giants (NFC) 17 New England Patriots (AFC) 14
XLIII 2008–09 Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC) 27 Arizona Cardinals (NFC) 23
XLIV 2009–10 New Orleans Saints (NFC) 31 Indianapolis Colts (AFC) 17
XLV 2010–11 Green Bay Packers (NFC) 31 Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC) 25
XLVI 2011–12 New York Giants (NFC) 21 New England Patriots (AFC) 17
XLVII 2012–13 Baltimore Ravens (AFC) 34 San Francisco 49ers (NFC) 31
XLVIII 2013–14 Seattle Seahawks (NFC) 43 Denver Broncos (AFC) 8
XLIX 2014–15 New England Patriots (AFC) 28 Seattle Seahawks (NFC) 24
50 2015–16 Denver Broncos (AFC) 24 Carolina Panthers (NFC) 10
LI 2016–17 New England Patriots (AFC) 34** Atlanta Falcons (NFC) 28
LII 2017–18 Philadelphia Eagles (NFC) 41 New England Patriots (AFC) 33
LIII 2018–19 New England Patriots (AFC) 13 Los Angeles Rams (NFC) 3
LIV 2019–20 Kansas City Chiefs (AFC) 31 San Francisco 49ers (NFC) 20
LV 2020–21 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFC) 31 Kansas City Chiefs (AFC) 9
LVI 2021–22 Los Angeles Rams (NFC) 23 Cincinnati Bengals (AFC) 20
LVII 2022–23 Kansas City Chiefs (AFC) 38 Philadelphia Eagles (NFC) 35
LVIII 2023–24 Kansas City Chiefs (AFC) 25** San Francisco 49ers (NFC) 22

This article was most recently revised and updated by J.E. Luebering.

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