NFL Background, History, Teams, Format, and Championships

By RayPublished on: January 28, 2024 Updated on: March 5, 2024
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The National Football League widely known by its acronym, NFL, is the most popular professional sports league in the United States. The NFL comprises 32 teams divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC).

Although mostly watched in the USA and Canada only, the NFL is the wealthiest professional sports league in the world in terms of revenue. Moreover, it is the sports league with the most valuable teams with each of the 32 teams having a valuation of at least $3.5 Billion.

The NFL also ranks on the top of the list of the highest average attendance of any professional sports league.

NFL Establishment and History

The NFL was established on September 17, 1920, as the American Professional Football Association (APFA). The league was renamed to the National Football League in 1922. The league initially comprised 14 teams, mostly from the Midwest.

The NFL couldn’t gain popularity in the early years since college football was a very popular sport back then. However, following World War II, it started to gain widespread popularity.

The biggest turning point in the league’s history is the NFL Championship game of 1958, which is also known as “The Greatest Game Ever Played.” The match attracted nationwide attention and significantly boosted the league’s popularity.

The National Football League’s merger with the American Football League (AFL) in 1970 was another pivotal moment in the NFL’s history.


The NFL consists of 32 teams divided into two conferences of 16 teams each. Each team can have a maximum of 55 players on its roster from which only 48 are eligible to play on game days. The teams can also have a separate 16-men practice squad.

Conference Division Team City Stadium Capacity First Season
AFC East Buffalo Bills Orchard Park, NY Highmark Stadium 71,608 1960 (AFL)
1970 (NFL)
Miami Dolphins Miami Gardens, FL Hard Rock Stadium 64,767 1966 (AFL)
1970 (NFL)
New England Patriots Foxborough, MA Gillette Stadium 65,878 1960 (AFL)
1970 (NFL)
New York Jets East Rutherford, NJ MetLife Stadium 82,500 1960 (AFL)
1970 (NFL)
North Baltimore Ravens Baltimore, MD M&T Bank Stadium 71,008 1996
Cincinnati Bengals Cincinnati, OH Paycor Stadium 65,515 1968 (AFL)
1970 (NFL)
Cleveland Browns Cleveland, OH Cleveland Browns Stadium 67,895 1946 (AAFC)
1950 (NFL)
Pittsburgh Steelers Pittsburgh, PA Acrisure Stadium 68,400 1933
South Houston Texans Houston, TX NRG Stadium 71,995 2002
Indianapolis Colts Indianapolis, IN Lucas Oil Stadium 63,000 1953
Jacksonville Jaguars Jacksonville, FL EverBank Stadium 67,814 1995
Tennessee Titans Nashville, TN Nissan Stadium 69,143 1960 (AFL)
1970 (NFL)
West Denver Broncos Denver, CO Empower Field at Mile High 76,125 1960 (AFL)
1970 (NFL)
Kansas City Chiefs Kansas City, MO GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium 76,416 1960 (AFL)
1970 (NFL)
Las Vegas Raiders Paradise, NV Allegiant Stadium 65,000 1960 (AFL)
1970 (NFL)
Los Angeles Chargers Inglewood, CA SoFi Stadium 70,240 1960 (AFL)
1970 (NFL)
NFC East Dallas Cowboys Arlington, TX AT&T Stadium 80,000 1960
New York Giants East Rutherford, NJ MetLife Stadium 82,500 1925
Philadelphia Eagles Philadelphia, PA Lincoln Financial Field 69,176 1933
Washington Commanders Landover, MD FedExField 62,000 1932
North Chicago Bears Chicago, IL Soldier Field 61,500 1920
Detroit Lions Detroit, MI Ford Field 65,000 1930
Green Bay Packers Green Bay, WI Lambeau Field 81,441 1921
Minnesota Vikings Minneapolis, MN U.S. Bank Stadium 66,860 1961
South Atlanta Falcons Atlanta, GA Mercedes-Benz Stadium 71,000 1966
Carolina Panthers Charlotte, NC Bank of America Stadium 75,523 1995
New Orleans Saints New Orleans, LA Caesars Superdome 73,208 1967
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tampa, FL Raymond James Stadium 65,618 1976
West Arizona Cardinals Glendale, AZ State Farm Stadium 63,400 1920
Los Angeles Rams Inglewood, CA SoFi Stadium 70,240 1936 (AFL)
1937 (NFL)
San Francisco 49ers Santa Clara, CA Levi’s Stadium 68,500 1946 (AAFC)
1950 (NFL)
Seattle Seahawks Seattle, WA Lumen Field 69,000 1976


NFL is divided into three main segments; the preseason, the regular season, and the postseason.


The NFL preseason takes place in August and serves as a warm-up period. The games played in the preseason are more exhibition games and they do not contribute to the regular season standings. However, the matches are essential for team management as they help in the evaluation of players, team development, and roster decisions.

Regular Season

The regular season is the main event of the NFL season that runs from September to December. The regular season runs through 18 weeks which comprises 17 game weeks and one bye week.

The 32 teams are split into two conferences; the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC) which are further divided into four divisions each. The match schedules are set in such a way that each team plays a mix of games within their division, conference, and against the teams of the other conference.

The NFL governing body ensures that each team plays against all other 31 teams at least once in a four year.

Postseason and Super Bowl

The NFL postseason is an exhilarating single-elimination tournament. It starts with the Wild Card round in January and ends with the Super Bowl in February.

Seven teams from each conference; four division winners and three wild card teams make it to the postseason. The playoffs consist of the Wild Card round, the Divisional round, the Conference Championships, and the Super Bowl.

Wild Card Round

In each conference, four division winners are ranked from 1 to 4 based on their regular season records. The three wild card teams are seeded from 5 to 7. The #1 seeded team in each conference receives a bye i.e., these two teams don’t have to play in the Wild Card round and are directly advanced to the Divisional Round.

The remaining six teams in a conference will participate in this round. The number 2 seed team will play against the number 7 seed team, #3 plays #6, and #4 plays #5. The team having a higher seed will host the game.

Divisional Round

The winners of the Wild Card round games advance to the Divisional round. The number 1 seed team, which received a bye in the Wild Card Round, will play the lowest-seeded team remaining. The remaining two teams will play each other. Like in the Wild Card round, the higher-seeded team will host the game.

Conference Championships

The winners of the Divisional Round will play in the Conference Championship which will determine the best team in each conference. The championship games will be hosted by the higher-seeded team like in the previous rounds.

The winner of this round receive their conference’s championship trophy and advance to the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is the climax of the NFL season. In the Super Bowl, the AFC and NFC champions face off. The venue for the final game of the season is chosen several years in advance. The Super Bowl is one of the most-watched sports events globally.

The winner of the match is declared the NFL champion of the season and receives the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The trophy is named after the late legendary Green Bay Packers coach.

About Author: Ray

As a passionate writer and dedicated NFL enthusiast, Ray brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the world of football. With a focus on NFL players and WAGs, Ray dives deep into the stories, lives, and careers of these incredible athletes. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for storytelling, Ray captures the essence of the NFL world, exploring the lives of players, and their family members.