The National Football Conference (NFC) is among the two conferences of the NFL. Together with its counterpart, American Football Conference (AFC), they all have 16 teams organized into four divisions. The creation of the two conventions was part of a merger in 1970 with rival AFL.
AFC was formed by former 3 NFL teams and ten former AFL teams. Since the merger, a series of league division realignments and expansions have occurred, thus making the total of 16 clubs in each conference.
How National Football Conference does work
Currently, each team faces fourteen opponents over the 17 games regular-season schedule. How is the season schedule set? The whole process is done using a pre-determined formula.
In a regular season, each team has to play with other teams in their respective division twice, that is, home and away, on a regular season. NFL assigns eleven other games in each team’s schedule – three games are assigned based on the particular team’s final divisional standing from the previous season. The remaining eight games get split between the roster of two other NFL divisions.
The assignment changes every year and follows a standard cycle. For example, let us use the 2021 season schedule. Each club in the NFC East plays in opposition to each team in both AFC South and West. Thus, non-divisional competition will be mostly among common opponents. However, three games assigned get exempted basing the team’s prior season divisional standing.
At each season end, the four division winners and three non-division winners with the best regular-season record qualify for playoffs. The playoffs culminate in the NFC Championship Game. The winner receives the George S. Halas Trophy. The champion in NFC then proceeds to play with the AFC champion in the Super Bowl.
- In 1970, there was a merger between NFL and AFL, creating both the NFC and AFC.
- In 1960, AFL started with only eight teams while the NFL was made up of 13 clubs.
By 1969, the NFL expanded to 16 clubs while the AFL to ten clubs. To have the merged league balanced, all former AFL clubs that were ten in number and the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Colts, and Cleveland Browns formed the AFC. The remaining 13 NFL teams established the NFC.
The newly formed AFC agreed to set up their divisional alignment plan as per geographic lines. However, team owners never admitted the best strategy for aligning the clubs in the NFC. These alignment proposals got narrowed down to five finalists.
On 16th January 1970, the by-then NFL commissioner secretary, Thelma Elkjer, eventually picked the plan from a glass bowl. Plan 3 got selected.
Since the merger, NFC has been joined by three expansion teams, making the overall total 16.
From 1970 to 2009, the original NFC logo depicted a blue ‘N’ with three stars across it. What did the three stars represent? They represented the three divisions used from 1970 to 2001 (Western, Eastern, and Central).
In 2010, the NFL season brought in an updated NFC logo. The logo is similar to the old logo—however, it has a fourth star representing the four divisions composing the NFC since 2002.
In the 1970 to 1993 season, NFC’s playoff games were aired by CBS, a television network in the United States.
From 1994 to 2013, NFC’s games primary rights holder was Fox. Back in those years, Fox or NBC broadcasted all interconference games in the NFC.
Since 2014, NFC games were allowed to be moved from Fox to CBS.