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About the NFL

Updated on August 18, 2015

What Is the NFL

The acronym NFL stands for the National Football League, the most popular professional sports league in the entire United States. Many people who are not of American extraction may confuse the term "football" with futbol, or soccer. The NFL started operations in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association and had eleven teams during its inaugural year.

Each team has 11 players and these players generally focus upon either offense or defense. The object of the game is to move the football across the goal line. The field of play is 100 yards in length. Each time that a player crosses the goal line, his team scores 6 points for a touchdown. After a touchdown, the team then tries to kick the ball through an upright goal post that resembles a Y with a flat crossbar. This is an extra point, which will give 7 points. A team gets a set of four plays, called downs, to get ten yards. Otherwise, they have to turn the ball over to the other team. A team can try to kick the ball through the uprights for a field goal and 3 points. A team that is tacked behind their own goal line give up 2 points in what is known as a safety.

Today, the NFL has 32 teams that spread throughout many of the largest cities in America. For the past few years, two teams have played a neutral site regular season game in London, England. Preseason games are frequently held in other locales, but no teams are headquartered outside the continental United States. The League headquarters are housed in Manhattan, New York. One of the coolest things about the NFL is the short season that makes every game very important to a team's playoff hopes.

MetLife Stadium, Home of the New York Giants and New York Jets, as well as Super Bowl XLVII in February 2013
MetLife Stadium, Home of the New York Giants and New York Jets, as well as Super Bowl XLVII in February 2013 | Source

Most Exciting Super Bowl

What was the most exciting Super Bowl ever?

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The NFL Season

The NFL season is spread throughout the year, with spring mini-camps and the annual NFL Draft, which is held in April. Many of the higher draft picks take a while to sign contracts and frequently miss the official start of training camp in July. Each of the teams plays a total of four preseason games before the regular season starts. Fans who attend these games generally see little of their favorite stars as the teams try out their draft picks and free agent signees.

The NFL regular season lasts 17 weeks and has started on a weeknight during the week of Labor Day in September for the past few years. Each team plays 16 games during the regular season, with eight games coming at home and eight on the road. The League is broken into eight divisions with four teams each. Two conferences, the National Football Conference and the American Football Conference, each have four divisions.

The NFL Playoffs generally start the first weekend of January. Six teams in each conference make the playoffs. Each of the division winners is guaranteed a spot. The two teams with the best records that did not qualify for the playoffs as division winners are given "wild card" spots in the playoffs. There are often tie-breakers invoked when determining division winners or wild card qualifiers.

The two wild card teams play the division winners with the worst records in the wild card round. The next week sees the top two seeds play the winners of the wild card games in the divisional playoffs. The third week of the NFL Playoffs pits the winners of the divisional games in the conference championships. Both conferences follow the same pattern, and the winners of the AFC and NFC championships play in the annual Super Bowl, which generally takes place two weeks after the conference championships.

NFL Headquarters in Manhattan
NFL Headquarters in Manhattan | Source

The Super Bowl

One of the most popular aspect about the NFL is the annual Super Bowl. The world champion of the NFL is annually decided in the Super Bowl, which goes back to the period before the merger of the old NFL and the upstart American Football League (which largely became the AFC) in 1970. The Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs played the first AFL-NFL Championship in 1967. NBC and CBS both televised the game, which had nowhere near the fanfare of modern Super Bowls. From this inauspicious start in which Green Bay won 35-10, the Super Bowl was born.

Today, the Super Bowl is usually the most-watched television program in America each year. Some people watch the game for the commercials that companies roll out for the event. The most recent Super Bowl saw the Seattle Seahawks clobber the Denver Broncos for their first ever Super Bowl title. The all-time leading franchise for Super Bowl titles is the Pittsburgh Steelers, with six. The Green Bay Packers have won the most NFL titles at 13, which includes titles earned before the Super Bowl era.

Super Bowl Winners

(click column header to sort results)
Super Bowl  
Winner  
Loser  
Score  
I
Green Bay Packers
Kansas City Chiefs
35-10
II
Green Bay Packers
Oakland Raiders
33-14
III
New York Jets
Baltimore Colts
16-7
IV
Kansas City Chiefs
Minnesota Vikings
23-7
V
Baltimore Colts
Dallas Cowboys
16-13
VI
Dallas Cowboys
Miami Dolphins
24-3
VII
Miami Dolphins
Washington Redskins
14-7
VIII
Miami Dolphins
Minnesota Vikings
24-7
IX
Pittsburgh Steelers
Minnesota Vikings
16-6
X
Pittsburgh Steelers
Dallas Cowboys
21-17
XI
Oakland Raiders
Minnesota Vikings
32-14
XII
Dallas Cowboys
Denver Broncos
27-10
XIII
Pittsburgh Steelers
Dallas Cowboys
35-31
XIV
Pittsburgh Steelers
Los Angeles Rams
31-19
XV
Oakland Raiders
Philadelphia Eagles
27-10
XVI
San Francisco 49ers
Cincinnati Bengals
26-21
XVII
Washington Redskins
Miami Dolphins
27-17
XVIII
Los Angeles Raiders
Washington Redskins
38-9
XIX
San Francisco 49ers
Miami Dolphins
38-16
XX
Chicago Bears
New England Patriots
46-10
XXI
New York Giants
Denver Broncos
39-20
XXII
Washington Redskins
Denver Broncos
42-10
XXIII
San Francisco 49ers
Cincinnati Bengals
20-16
XXIV
San Francisco 49ers
Denver Broncos
55-10
XXV
New York Giants
Buffalo Bills
20-19
XXVI
Washington Redskins
Buffalo Bills
37-24
XXVII
Dallas Cowboys
Buffalo Bills
52-17
XXVIII
Dallas Cowboys
Buffalo Bills
30-13
XXIX
San Francisco 49ers
San Diego Chargers
49-26
XXX
Dallas Cowyboys
Pittsburgh Steelers
27-17
XXXI
Green Bay Packers
New England Patriots
35-21
XXXII
Denver Broncos
Green Bay Packers
31-24
XXXIII
Denver Broncos
Atlanta Falcons
34-19
XXXIV
St. Louis Rams
Tennessee Titans
23-16
XXXV
Baltimore Ravens
New York Giants
34-7
XXXVI
New England Patriots
St. Louis Rams
20-17
XXXVII
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Oakland Raiders
48-21
XXXVIII
New England Patriots
Carolina Panthers
32-29
XXXIX
New England Patriots
Philadelphia Eagles
24-21
XL
Pittsburgh Steelers
Seattle Seahawks
21-10
XLI
Indianapolis Colts
Chicago Bears
29-17
XLII
New York Giants
New England Patriots
17-14
XLIII
Pittsburgh Steelers
Arizona Cardinals
27-23
XLIV
New Orleans Saints
Indianapolis Colts
31-17
XLV
Green Bay Packers
Pittsburgh Steelers
31-25
XLVI
New York Giants
New England Patriots
21-17
XLVII
Baltimore Ravens
San Francisco 49ers
34-31
XLVIII
Seattle Seahawks
Denver Broncos
43-8
XLIX
New England Patriots
Seattle Seahawks
28-24

The AFC

East Division
South Division
North Division
West Division
Buffalo Bills
Indianapolis Colts
Pittsburgh Steelers
Denver Broncos
New England Patriots
Houston Texans
Cincinnati Bengals
Kansas City Chiefs
Miami Dolphins
Jacksonville Jaguars
Baltimore Ravens
Oakland Raiders
New York Jets
Tennessee Ttitans
Cleveland Browns
San Diego Chargers

The NFC

East Division
South Division
North Division
West Division
Washington Redskins
New Orleans Saints
Chicago Bears
San Francisco 49ers
Dallas Cowboys
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Green Bay Packers
Arizona Cardinals
New York Giants
Carolina Panthers
Detroit Lions
St. Louis Rams
Philadelphia Eagles
Atlanta Falcons
Minnesota Vikings
Seattle Seahawks

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    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      This is interesting to read. I watch football with my hubby and recognize many of the teams mentioned here. He did go to the Bengals-49ers superbowl game. That was a game he won't forget. Thanks for the details on the AFC and NFC team divisions. I always wondered about that.

    • cprice75 profile image
      Author

      cprice75 4 years ago from USA

      Glad you enjoyed the hub. Both of the times the Bengals went to the SB, the 49ers beat them. The 1990 game was decided in the final minute, which is pretty rare for most Super Bowls. Which one did he go to? The one in Pontiac or the one where Montana threw a TD in the last minute?

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 4 years ago from Oakland, CA

      I've become a baseball convert in my adult life, but I still can't get my brain around American football. Maybe it's because our local team (the 49ers) are so seriously awful all the time.

    • cprice75 profile image
      Author

      cprice75 4 years ago from USA

      I like baseball ok, but I'm a huge football fan. I tend to like the college game more, because both of the state's I've lived in have had no professional teams. Your local team is being picked by many to make the Super Bowl this year. They came really close after a really bad decade last year.

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 4 years ago from Oakland, CA

      See? I don't even pay attention enough to know when we're actually doing well. Shame on me.

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