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The NFL - National Football League, is the main professional football league in the US, which is made up of 32 teams that are split equally between two conferences - the AFC (American Football Conference) and the NFC (National Football Conference). The NFL is one of the four North American pro sports leagues - along with the NBA, NHL and MLB and is considered the highest professional level of American football anywhere in the world - and the NFL players are followed by fans from across the globe.

The AFC and NFC are both made up of four divisions - each conference includes its own:

  • North division
  • East division
  • South division
  • West division

It's regular season is eighteen weeks long and runs from the beginning of September until the start of January. Every NFL team plays 17 games and has one bye week. At the end of the regular-season, fourteen teams (seven teams from either conference), consisting of the four division winners in each conference plus three wild card teams from each conference, all advance to the playoffs.

The playoffs is a single-elimination tournament - the combination of which is the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl is a competition between the playoff winners in the AFC and the NFC to crown the overall NFL winner and is normally held on the first Sunday in February. The NFL headquarters are based in New York City.

The Origins of the National Football League

Originally, the NFL was formed back in 1920, then called the American Professional Football Association (AFPA). However, in the 1922 season, it was rebranded as the National Football League. Originally, the champions were determined by the end-of-season standings. However, in 1933, the playoff system was implemented and this was the run-up to the grand finale - the NFL Championship Game, up until 1966. It was then that the NFL agreed to a merger with their main rivals, the American Football League (AFL) and this led to the first Super Bowl, held in 1967, which would determine the winner between the two winning teams from the two big leagues. It has remained the last game of every NFL season since 1970 when the merger was finalised.

Out of all professional sports teams in the world, the NFL enjoys the highest average attendance (of around 67,591) per match and is the United State's most popular sports league. It comes as no surprise then, that the Super Bowl is considered to be one of the biggest club sporting events in the world - and individual NFL games have been some of the most viewed television events in US history. In fact, by 2015, NFL games dominated Nielsen's Top 5 tally of the all-time most-watched US TV broadcasts.

As such, the NFL now has the richest professional sports teams in terms of revenue and it is the sports league with the most valuable sports teams. It even has its own NFL Network on TV. With world recognised NFL shield design and uniform designs, prime time TV slots and other NFL related trademarks recognised globally, it is no wonder that all High School Football players want to sign for the NFL.

To date, the Green Bay Packers have won the most NFL Championships - with thirteen titles. They won nine titles before the Super Bowl and have won four Super Bowls. However, since the Super Bowl was created, the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers have had the most success, with six Championship titles apiece.

NFL History

Back in August 2020, there was a meeting between representatives of the Cleveland Indians, Canton Bulldogs, Akon Pros and Dayton Triangles. This led to the creation of the American Professional Football Conference (APFC) - with the intention of raising the standard of professional football.

Later that year there was another meeting - this time including representatives from teams in four different states:

  • Ohio - Akron, Canton, Cleveland and Dayton
  • Indiana - Hammond Pros and Muncie Flyers
  • New York - Rochester Jeffersons
  • Illinois - Rock Island Independents, Decatur Staleys and Racine (Chicago) Cardinals

This led to the renaming of the team to the American Professional Football Association (APFA). They then elected Jim Thorpe as the first president and it consisted of 14 teams. The Buffalo All-Americans, Chicago Tigers, Columbus Panhandles and Detroit Heralds joined in the year, The Massillon Tigers didn't join up in 1920. Only two of the original teams - the Decatur Staleys (Chicago Bears) and Chicago Cardinals (Arizona Cardinals) are still a part of the NFL.

It was in June 1922 that the AFPA officially rebranded and became known across the US as the National Football League (NFL).

The Season Format

There are three parts to the NFL season -


The preseason starts with the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game. Every team is required to schedule three preseason games. However, teams that take part in the Hall of Fame Game and any team that was part of an American Bowl game will play four. These games are considered exhibition matches as they don't have any bearing on the regular-season results. because of this, the teams don't spend too much time worrying about winning. Instead, the head coach will use the games to evaluate the team and players performance. This has led to criticism of the quality of the fans that still have to pay full price. There are also concerns over players suffering an injury in the preseason.

Regular season

The regular season runs over 18 weeks and consists of 272 games. The season begins on the first Monday in September and ends the week after New Year. The first game is normally the league's defending champions playing a home game - played on a Thursday. However, the majority of games are played on a Sunday although there are normally one Monday night and one Thursday night game held weekly. They are never played on Friday or Saturday as they are prohibited from playing at the same time as High School football games.

In total, all of the teams play seventeen games and they have a bye week - where they don't play. The team's home and away opponents have been decided by the end of the last year's regular season. However, the exact times and dates of those NFL games won't be decided until later as the league has to account for numerous other things - such as the MLB postseason and any other local event that could cause a possible schedule conflict. In any given season, in fact, more than 500,000 potential schedules might be created - with thousands being reviewed by the special NFL scheduling team. When they decide which the best schedule out of the group is, there will be even more potential schedules to make sure that the chosen schedule is the best possible.


When the regular season comes to the end, it's postseason time - the NFL Playoffs. This is a 14 team single-elimination tournament. It consists of seven teams from each conference - the four division winners plus three wild card teams (the three other teams that have the best overall record - possibly with a tiebreaker if two or more teams have the same record). The NFL teams will then be seeded based on their overall record (and tiebreaker if necessary). The Division winners will always have the highest seeding. The top seed from each conference will be given a bye week and the rest of the teams (seeds 2 to 7) from both of the conferences will play in the first round. Seed 2 plays seed 7, seed 3 plays seed 6 and the fourth seed team will take on the fifth seed team. The three winning teams of that round (named the wild card round) will then move forward to the Divisional round. In this round, the lowest remaining seed will take on the top seed and the other two teams will play each other. The two winners will then go on to play in the Conference Championship - with the highest seeded team playing at home. When the winners of each conference have been decided, they will compete in the Super Bowl to determine who will be crowned the league champion.

Aside from the playoffs and Super Bowl, the only other postseason event that is hosted by the NFL is the Pro Bowl - the NFL all-star game. In recent years, the Pro Bowl has taken place one week before the Super Bowl. It used to be the week after, but it was moved to the previous week in a bid to boost the viewing figures. For this reason, the players that are from the teams competing in the Super Bowl are exempt from the game. The Pro Bowl is deemed to be not as competitive as regular-season games because they are careful to avoid unnecessary player injuries.

NFL Teams

As mentioned, there are 32 teams in the NFL. These are divided into two conferences of sixteen teams. Then, both of these conferences are divided further into four divisions and each division has four teams. During any regular-season, a team is allowed a maximum of 55 players on the roster, but only 48 can be eligible to play on match day. Additionally, every team can have a 12-player squad that is entirely separate from its main player roster.

Every NFL club is given a franchise - which is the league's authorisation to play and operate in its home city. The franchise covers 75 miles around the city limits - or should the team be less than 100 miles from another NFL league city then it is half the distance between the two. It also granted a Home Marketing Area. Every NFL member is given the exclusive rights to host their games within the home territory and has exclusive rights to promote, advertise and host events within its Home Marketing Area - so only within this area can they offer advertising services. The only exceptions to this are those teams that reside in close proximity to each other, teams that operate in the same city - which share the rights to the City Home Territory, or teams that operate in the same state - that share the state's Home Marketing Area.

Every one of the NFL clubs is based within the United States - and unlike other pro-American sports, there is none based outside of the country. However, as part of the NFL International Series in 2013, the Jacksonville Jaguars played one home game a year at Wembley Stadium, London, UK which was extended to 2020. Additionally, the Las Vegas Raiders and both the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers have played there a handful of times.

Additionally, the Buffalo Bills played one game each season in Toronto, Canada between 2008-2013. Mexico has also hosted an NFL regular-season game way back in 2005 as well as 39 international preseason games between 1986 and 2005.

According to publications and specific NFL personalized content, the most valuable NFL franchise - and the most valuable sports team in the world is the Dallas Cowboys, worth about $5 billion. Moreover, 26 out of the 32 clubs are ranked in the top 50 sports teams in the world in terms of value. Meanwhile, 16 of the NFL owners are listed in the Forbes 400, which is the highest number for any sporting league or organisation. So apart from sheer entertainment, the NFL has other uses - making a lot of money.

Team Divisions

These 32 teams are split into eight geographic divisions, with four teams in each. Each division is a part of one of the two conferences - the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference. The two conference structure started back in the time when there were two independent pro-American Football leagues - the National Football League and its younger brother, the American Football League. In 1970, these two leagues merged and took on the older league's name and reorganised to make sure that both conferences had the same number of teams.

Here are the teams and how they are split up...

American Football Conference

  • Division Team Names City Stadium
  • North Baltimore Ravens Baltimore, Md M&T Bank Stadium
  • North Cincinnati Bengals Cincinnati, Oh Paul Brown Stadium
  • North Cleveland Browns Cleveland, Oh First energy Stadium
  • North Pittsburgh Steelers Pittsburgh, Pa Heinz Field
  • East Buffalo Bills Orchard Park, NY Highmark Stadium
  • East Miami Dolphins Miami Gardens, FL Hard Rock Stadium
  • East New England Patriots Foxborough, Ma Gillette Stadium
  • East New York Jets East Rutherford, NJ MetLife Stadium
  • South Houston Texans Houston, Tx NRG Stadium
  • South Indianapolis Colts Indianapolis, In Lucas Oil Stadium
  • South Jacksonville Jaguars Jacksonville, F TIAA Bank Field
  • South Tennessee Titans Nashville, Tn Nissan Stadium
  • West Denver Broncos Denver, Co Empower Field
  • West Kansas City Chiefs Kansas City, Mo Arrowhead Stadium
  • West Las Vegas Raiders Paradise, Nv Allegiant Stadium
  • West Los Angeles Chargers Inglewood, Ca SoFi Stadium

National Football Conference

  • North Chicago Bears Chicago, Il Soldier Field
  • North Detroit Lions Detroit, Mi Ford Field
  • North Green Bay Packers Green Bay, Wi Lambeau Field
  • North Minnesota Vikings Minneapolis, Mn U.S. Bank Stadium
  • East Dallas Cowboys Arlington, Tx AT&T Stadium
  • East New York Giants East Rutherford, NJ MetLife Stadium
  • East Philadelphia Eagles Philadelphia, Pa Lincoln Financial Field
  • East Washington FT Landover, Md FedEx Field
  • South Atlanta Falcons Atlanta, Ga Mercedes-Benz Stadium
  • South Carolina Panthers Charlotte, NC Bank of America Stadium
  • South New Orleans Saints New Orleans, La Caesars Superdome
  • South Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tampa, Fl Raymond James Stadium
  • West Arizona Cardinals Glendale, Az State Farm Stadium
  • West Los Angeles Rams Inglewood, Ca SoFi Stadium
  • West San Francisco 49ers Santa Clara, Ca Levi's Stadium
  • West Seattle Seahawks Seattle, Wa Lumen Field