The National Football League (NFL) is made up of two conferences, the National Football Conference (NFC) and its counterpart the American Football Conference (the AFC). Both conferences contain sixteen teams that are organized into four divisions. The two conferences were created when the original NFL merged with its rival, the American Football League (AFL). All of the former teams in the AFL plus three of the original NFL teams joined together to form the American Football Conference. Meanwhile, the other thirteen teams all formed the National Football Conference.
However, since the original 1970 merger, there have been several league expansions and division realignments. Now, there are sixteen clubs in each conference, making it easier to create equal divisions.
The 2021 NFC champions are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who beat the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Conference Championship game, making it a second conference win for the team.
Facts About the NFC
- The National Football Conference Logo is a blue ‘N’ with four white stars.
- It is part of The National Football League playing Pro American Football.
- The NFC was formerly known as the National Football League before its 1970 merger.
- The NFC as it is currently was originally founded in 1970.
- There are 16 teams in the National Football Conference.
- The most recent NFC Champions are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – making it the second win.
- The team that has won the NFC championship the most is the Dallas Cowboys (NFC East), who have won it 8 times.
Current NFL Teams
Since its final expansion in 2002, both the NFC and the AFC have consisted of sixteen teams, broken down into a further four divisions (North, South, East and West) all with four teams each.
- 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 Football Team Landover, MD FedEx Field
- North Chicago Bears Chicago, IL Soldier Field
- Detroit Lions Detroit, MI Ford Field
- Green Bay Packers Green Bay, W Lambeau Field
- Minnesota Vikings Minneapolis, MN U.S. Bank Stadium
- South Atlanta Falcons Atlanta, GA Mercedes-Benz Stadium
- Carolina Panthers Charlotte, NC Bank of America
- New Orleans Saints New Orleans, LA Caesars Superdome
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tampa, FL Raymond James
- West Arizona Cardinals Glendale, AZ State Farm Stadium
- Los Angeles Rams Inglewood, CA SoFi Stadium
- San Francisco 49ers Santa Clara, CA Levi’s Stadium
- Seattle Seahawks Seattle, WA Lumen Field
NFC Season Structure
As it stands, there is a pre-determined formula that sets the schedule for the fourteen opposing teams that each team will face through the course of the 17-week regular season.
Every team in the National Football Conference will play the other teams that are in the same conference division as them twice (once at home and once away) during the regular season. There will also be a further eleven games assigned to them, which will be determined by the NFL. Three of those games will be assigned based on the team’s previous season final division standing. The other eight games will be split between the roster of two other NFL divisions. These will change each year based on the standard cycle.
If we look at the 2021 season as an example, every East Division NFC team plays every team in the NFC South Division and each team in the NFC West division. As such, non-divisional competition will generally be against common opposition teams. The only exception would be the three games that have been assigned based on the divisional standing of the team in the previous season.
At the end of every regular season, the four teams that have won their division, plus three wild card teams (those that didn’t win their division but finished with the best regular-season record) will then qualify for the NFL playoffs. The NFC playoffs culminate in the NFC Championship Game, where the teams are playing to lift the George S Halas Trophy plus a place in the Super Bowl game to face the champions of the AFC.
The History of the NFC
The National Football Conference and the American Football Conference were both created after the merger of the National Football League merged with the American Football League in 1970. The AFL originally began with eight teams in 1960. Meanwhile, the NFL had thirteen clubs. However, by 1969 both leagues had expanded in size, with the AFL consisting of ten teams and the NFL growing to 16 teams. When the two leagues merged, there was a rebalance required so the ten original former AFL teams were joined by three NFL teams – the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers to form the original AFC, and the remaining original NFL teams became the NFC.
Although the new AFC had already managed to agree upon and set up their divisional alignment plan based on geography, unfortunately, this was not the case with the NFC as team owners struggled to come up with a plan to align the clubs. Several alignment proposals were then narrowed down to the five final proposals – all kept in a sealed envelope. They then planned to pick the plan from a glass bowl by Thelma Elkjer, the secretary of the then NFL Commissioner, Pete Rozelle.
because of the size of the conferences, they were originally to be split into three divisions – and the five plans that made it to the glass bowl were:
- Plan A
- Eastern Division: Atlanta, Minnesota, New York, Philadelphia and Washington
- Central Division: Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay and New Orleans
- Western Division: Dallas, Los Angeles, St Louis, San Francisco
- Plan B
- Eastern Division: Minnesota, New York, Philadelphia and Washington
- Central Division: Atlanta, Dallas, New Orleans and St Louis
- Western Division: Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Green Bay and San Francisco
- Plan C
- Eastern Division: Minnesota, Philadelphia, New York, Washington and St Louis
- Central Division: Chicago, Atlanta, Green Bay and Detroit
- Western Division: New Orleans, Dallas, San Francisco and Los Angeles
- Plan D
- Eastern Division: Minnesota, Detroit, Philadelphia, New York and Washington
- Central Division: Dallas, Chicago, St Louis and Green Bay
- Western Division: Los Angeles, Atlanta, San Francisco and New Orleans.
- Plan E
- Eastern Division: Dallas, New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Washington
- Central Division: Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay and Minnesota
- Western Division: Atlanta, Los Angeles, New Orleans and San Francisco
It was the last plan that was eventually chosen to be the original format of the NFC. However, since the original merger, three expansion teams have joined the NFC, which now means there are 16 teams in total. Originally, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks joined the NFL in 1976, they were put in the AFC and NFC respectively. However, after one season they switched conferences. However, when the conferences realigned in 2002, the Seahawks returned to the NFC, joined by the Carolina Panthers in 1995.
The teams in the NFC are much more equally matched compared to the AFC – and 15 of the 16 NFC teams have made the Super Bowl, with the only team never making it being the Detroit Lions. In fact, since the final NFC division realignment in 2002 12 of the NFC’s teams have made it to the Super Bowl – compared to only 7 different AFC teams.:
- Baltimore Ravens – once
- Las Vegas Raiders – once
- Kansas City Chiefs – twice
- Denver Broncos – twice
- Indianapolis Colts – twice
- Pittsburgh Steelers – three times
- New England Patriots – nine times
In comparison, the only NFC team to make it into two consecutive Super Bowls is the Seattle Seahawks.
The original NFC logo, which was used between 1970 and 2009 was a blue capital N with three white stars – the three stars represented the three divisions at that time. However, after the realignment of the conference and the division structure, the logo was updated to include four stars to represent the four divisions.
National Football Conference FAQs
Which Teams Have Been Division Champions the Most?
When looking at the most titles won by the teams, the most successful of all NFL teams are the Green Bay Packers of the NFL North Division, having won 13 titles. This is followed by the Chicago Bears of the NFC North Division who have won 9 times. The third most successful team is the New York Giants of the NFC East Division who has won 8 times.
Which Teams are the 2021 Regional Divisions Champions?
The 2021 regional division champions in the NFC are: NFC East – Washington Football Team, NFC North – Green Bay Packers, NFC South – New Orleans Saints and NFC West – the Seattle Seahawks.
Have the Los Angeles Rams won the Super Bowl?
Yes, the Los Angeles Rams, part of the NFC West Division have won the Super Bowl Championship once – Super Bowl XXXIV in 1999. They have won the NFC West Division thirteen times and have won the NFC Championship four times.
Which NFC Team Hasn’t Won the Super Bowl?
The NFC teams that have never won the Super Bowl are… Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals and the Detroit Lions.