National Football League
The National Football League (NFL) is an American football league. There are 32 teams in the league. The league is one of the major professional sports leagues of the United States and Canada. The players are among the highest-paid athletes in the world. A league is a competition between a number of teams. The teams play other teams, and the results are used to list the teams in order of who is The team at the top of the list (called a league table) is the best team and the team at the bottom is the worst team.
|Current season, competition or edition:
2023 NFL season
|August 20, 1920
|No. of teams
|32, divided into two sixteen-team conferences, each of which consists of four four-team divisions.
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2 titles)
|Green Bay Packers (13 titles)
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It is now the most popular professional league in the United States by number of television viewers. The NFL also has the highest per-game attendance of any professional league in the world; in the most recently completed 2014 season, the average crowd at an NFL game was more than 67,000. Its championship game, the Super Bowl, is an unofficial national holiday in the U.S., and is seen by more people than any other American television program.
In terms of number of players and people involved, the NFL is the largest professional sports league in the world. It is widely considered the top level of competition in the world for American football.
History of the NFL change
In 1920, an American football league was formed. It was called the American Professional Football Association. In 1921 it changed its name to the National Football League. In 1960 another league was formed, called the American Football League. In 1970 the National Football League and the American Football League joined so that the teams from each league could play each other. The league called the National Football League changed its name to the National Football Conference (usually called the NFC) and the league called the American Football League changed its name to the American Football Conference (usually called the AFC). The two conferences together are now called the National Football League. People can also call it by the acronym NFL for short.
Because the U.S. is a big country and it would be hard for teams to travel a long way to play other teams, the teams are separated into smaller regional divisions based on where they are in the country. The teams are separated like this:
Teams in the AFC
- Buffalo Bills (playing in Orchard Park, New York, near Buffalo)
- Miami Dolphins (playing in Miami, Florida)
- New England Patriots (playing in Foxborough, Massachusetts, about halfway between Boston and Providence)
- New York Jets (playing in East Rutherford, New Jersey, near New York City)
- Baltimore Ravens (playing in Baltimore, Maryland)
- Cincinnati Bengals (playing in Cincinnati, Ohio)
- Cleveland Browns (playing in Cleveland, Ohio)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (playing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
- Houston Texans (playing in Houston, Texas)
- Indianapolis Colts (playing in Indianapolis, Indiana)
- Jacksonville Jaguars (playing in Jacksonville, Florida)
- Tennessee Titans (playing in Nashville, Tennessee)
Teams in the NFC
- Dallas Cowboys (playing in Arlington, Texas, near Dallas and Fort Worth)
- New York Giants (playing in East Rutherford, New Jersey in the same stadium as the Jets)
- Philadelphia Eagles (playing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
- Washington Commanders (playing in Landover, Maryland, near Washington, D.C.)
- Chicago Bears (playing in Chicago, Illinois)
- Detroit Lions (playing in Detroit, Michigan)
- Green Bay Packers (playing in Green Bay, Wisconsin)
- Minnesota Vikings (playing in Minneapolis, Minnesota)
- Atlanta Falcons (playing in Atlanta, Georgia)
- Carolina Panthers (playing in Charlotte, North Carolina)
- New Orleans Saints (playing in New Orleans, Louisiana)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (playing in Tampa, Florida)
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The teams in the NFL play games against each other from September to January. This time is called a season. Each team plays 17 games, most recently increased from 16 starting with the 2021 season. This is how which games a team will play are chosen:
- Each team plays a game against all the other teams in their division twice, once at their own stadium (this is called playing "at home") and once at the other team's home stadium (this is called playing "away").
- Each team will also play all the teams in another division in the same conference (AFC or NFC). They will play two of those teams at home and two of the teams away. The other division that they play changes every year. For example, a team in the AFC North will play teams in the AFC South one year, the AFC East the next year, the AFC West the year after that, and then the AFC South again the year after that.
- Each team will also play all the teams in one of the divisions of the other conference. They will play two of these teams at home and the other two teams away. The regional league from the other conference changes every year too. For example, a team in the AFC North will play teams from the NFC North one year, then teams from the NFC South the next year, then teams from the NFC West the next year, then teams from the NFC East the next year, then teams from the NFC North again the next year.
- Each team will also play two teams from the same conference in the division that they are not already supposed to play against. The teams that they play will be the teams that were about as good as they were last season and finished in the same position in their own division. For example, if we look at a team in the AFC North that finished 3rd out of the 4 teams in the AFC North, if this team is going to play all the teams in the AFC West this year anyway, they will play the teams that finished 3rd in the AFC East and the AFC South.
- Finally, each team plays one game against a team in the other conference that finished in the same position within its division. The divisional matchups rotate every year, and each team will alternate home and away games—meaning that if a team played this specific game on the road in one season, it plays that game at home in the next.
- Therefore, during the regular season, each team plays:
- Teams in its own division twice a year
- Teams in other divisions in its own conference at least once every 3 years, but on average once every 2 years
- Teams in the other conference at least once every 4 years
Flexible scheduling change
Since the 2006 season, the NFL has used a "flexible scheduling" system for the last seven weeks of the regular season where there is a Sunday night game. The system is designed so that the league has the flexibility in selecting games to air on Sunday night that will feature the current hottest, streaking teams.
Under the system, all Sunday games in the affected weeks will tentatively have the "early" start time of 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT, except those played in the Pacific or Mountain time zones, which will have the tentative start time of 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT. On the Tuesday 12 days before the games, the league will move one game to the prime-time slot, and possibly move one or more 1 p.m. slotted games to the 4 p.m. slot. During the last week of the season, the league could reschedule games as late as six days before the contests so that as many of the television networks as possible will be able to broadcast a game that has playoff implications.
At the end of every NFL season, the eight teams that finish the season at the top of their divisions and three teams from each conference that were the best teams apart from the eight division winners (these six teams are called Wild Cards) enter a competition to see who is the best team in the whole league. This is called the Playoffs. There are a total of 14 teams in the Playoffs, seven from both the AFC and NFC. The seven teams in each conference are listed in order of how well they played in the season. This is called seeding and it is done to make it easier for the better teams to win. The teams that did not win their leagues (the Wild Cards) are always the bottom three seeds in the list, even if one or more had a better record than a team that won its division.
Wild Card games change
The first round of the playoffs, known as Wild Card Weekend, features six games. The matchups by seed are the same in both conferences.
- The fifth seed visits the fourth seed.
- The sixth seed visits the third seed.
- The seventh seed visits the second seed.
The winners of each game advance to the next round; the losers' seasons end. This leaves 8 teams.
Division playoffs change
The second round, called the Divisional Playoffs, has four games. Again, the matchups by seed are the same in both conferences.
- The lowest seed among each conference's three Wild Card Round winners visits the top seed in its conference.
- The remaining two teams in each conference play, with the team with the higher seed (i.e., the lower number) hosting.
As in the previous round, only the winners advance to the next round.
Conference championships change
The third round, the Conference Championship Games, involves two games.
- The two survivors of the AFC Divisional Round play in the AFC Championship Game, with the winner being AFC Champion.
- Similarly, the two survivors of the NFC Divisional Round play in the NFC Championship Game, with the winner being NFC Champion.
Super Bowl change
The last part of the playoffs is called the Super Bowl. The AFC Champion and the NFC Champion teams play each other to decide who is the best team in the NFL. The team that win the Super Bowl claims the Lombardi trophy.