NFL Conferences & Divisions

Many teams on this blog will appear in multiple divisions if you go strictly by tags.  The conference/division system reflects on the history of football.

For decades there was only the National Football League.  Several leagues tried to take away the NFL’s monopoly on the game of gridiron football and have failed.  In 1960 the last known incarnation American Football League formed.  The AFL was the only one that came close to toppling the NFL.  An intense rivalry formed for players that wanted to enter the draft, free agents that did become available, TV contracts, and practically anything else that could show supremacy.  Both Leagues would play their regular seasons with their own teams, culminating in the playoffs.  The team that was deemed the best of both Leagues would compete to determine the true champion.  A Super Bowl if you will.  Does this format sound awfully familiar to you?

When the two Leagues officially merged in 1970, the Leagues decided to call themselves Conferences.  Each conference had three divisions:  East, Central, and West.  The breakdown was as follows:

American Football Conference
East
Baltimore Colts
Boston Patriots
Buffalo
Miami
New York Jets

Central

Cincinnati
Cleveland
Houston Oilers
Pittsburgh

West

Denver
Kansas City
Oakland
San Diego

National Football Conference
East
Dallas
New York Giants
Philadelphia
Saint Louis Cardinals
Washington

Central

Chicago
Detroit
Green Bay
Minnesota

West

Atlanta
Los Angeles Rams
New Orleans
San Francisco

2001 was the last year of the East, Central, West division format.  Teams moved, dissolved, or were created.  At times there would be an issue of one division being bigger than the others. This made regular season formats and playoff formats confusing.  The wildcard portion of the playoffs were introduced to adjust for the influx of new teams.  NFC Central is the example here.  Here was the final roster:

American Football Conference
East
Buffalo
Indianapolis Colts
Miami
New England Patriots
New York Jets

Central

Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati
Cleveland
Jacksonville
Pittsburgh
Tennessee

West

Denver
Kansas City
Oakland
San Diego
Seattle

National Football Conference
East
Arizona
Dallas
New York Giants
Philadelphia
Washington

Central

Chicago
Detroit
Green Bay
Minnesota
Tampa Bay

West

Atlanta
Carolina
New Orleans
Saint Louis Rams
San Francisco

2002 was the first official season using the current division format: North, South, East and West.  Every division is equal size and had a consistent regular season and playoff system.  As it stands, here is the conference break down:

American Football Conference
North
Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati
Cleveland
Pittsburgh

South

Houston Texans
Indianapolis Colts
Jacksonville
Tennessee

East
Buffalo
Miami
New England Patriots
New York Jets

West

Denver
Kansas City
Oakland
San Diego

National Football Conference
North
Chicago
Detroit
Green Bay
Minnesota

South

Atlanta
Carolina
New Orleans
Tampa Bay

East
Dallas
New York Giants
Philadelphia
Washington

West

Arizona Cardinals
Saint Louis Rams
San Francisco
Seattle

Of course, I still don’t completely agree with this format for pure geographical reasons.  Saint Louis is west of the Mississippi River, but is also towards the north of the United States.  Miami is on the east coast, but is geographically the southernmost city of all of the 32 teams.  But we still have to keep certain teams together for rivalry, legacy, equality and other self-important sports writing terms that end in -y.


What so what is the NFL Coastal tag?
Before the 1970 merger, the NFL had a Coastal Division.  This was a unique division for teams located near, as you guessed it, coasts of the United States.  The NFL Coastal included:

Atlanta Falcons
Baltimore Colts
Los Angeles Rams
San Francisco 49ers

After the NFL-AFL merger in 1970, some teams were shuffled around for divisions.  The NFL Coastal division was renamed the NFC West.  The physical location compared to division named still made no damn sense.  The Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints stayed in the NFC West until 2002.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s