FanPost

Sunday OT/AFC/NFC Championship GDT (Unless Adam trumps me) 01/19/14

AFC

Both the AFC and the NFC were created after the NFL merged with the American Football League (AFL) in 1970.[1] The AFL began play in 1960 with eight teams, and added two more expansion clubs (the Miami Dolphins in 1966 and the Cincinnati Bengals in 1968) before the merger. In order to equalize the number of teams in each conference, three NFL teams that predated the AFl's launch (the Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, and the then-Baltimore Colts) joined the ten former AFL teams to form the AFC. The two AFL divisions AFL East and AFL West were more or less intact, while the AFC Central was transplanted from the old NFL where it was called the NFL Century Division where the Browns and Steelers had played since 1967.

Since the merger, five expansion teams have joined the AFC and two have left, thus making the current total 16. When the Seattle Seahawks and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers joined the league in 1976, they were temporarily placed in the NFC and AFC respectively. This arrangement lasted for one season only before the two teams switched conferences. The Seahawks eventually returned to the NFC as a result of the 2002 realignment. The expansion Jacksonville Jaguars joined the AFC in 1995.

Due to the relocation controversy of the Cleveland Browns, a new AFC franchise called the Baltimore Ravens was officially established in 1996 while the Browns were reactivated in 1999.

The Houston Texans were then added to the league in 2002, joining the AFC.

Between 2000 and 2012, the AFC had sent either the Baltimore Ravens, the Indianapolis Colts, the New England Patriots, or the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Super Bowl, with one exception. In the 2002 NFL season, the Oakland Raiders lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII. By contrast, the NFC sent a different team each year save for the 2011 NFL season, when the New York Giants made it to their second Super Bowl in that same time span, Super Bowl XLVI.

NFC

Both the AFC and NFC were created after the NFL merged with the American Football League (AFL) in 1970.[1] When the AFL began play in 1960 with eight teams, the NFL consisted of 13 clubs. By 1969, the AFL had expanded to ten teams and NFL to 16 clubs. In order to balance the merged league, all ten of the former AFL teams along with the NFL's Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Baltimore Colts formed the AFC, while the remaining 13 NFL teams formed the NFC.

However, team owners could not agree to a plan on how to align the clubs in the NFC. The alignment proposals were narrowed down to five finalists, and then the plan that was eventually selected was picked out of a glass bowl by then-NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle's secretary, on January 16, 1970.[2]

The five alignment plans for the NFC in 1970 were as follows, with Plan 3 eventually selected:

  • Plan 1
    • Eastern - Atlanta, Minnesota, New York Giants, Philadelphia, Washington
    • Central - Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, New Orleans
    • Western - Dallas, Los Angeles Rams, St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco
  • Plan 2
    • Eastern - Minnesota, New York Giants, Philadelphia, Washington
    • Central - Atlanta, Dallas, New Orleans, St. Louis Cardinals
    • Western - Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco
  • Plan 3
    • Eastern - Dallas, New York Giants, Philadelphia, St. Louis Cardinals, Washington
    • Central - Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Minnesota
    • Western - Atlanta, Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans, San Francisco
  • Plan 4
    • Eastern - Minnesota, New York Giants, Philadelphia, St. Louis Cardinals, Washington
    • Central - Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay
    • Western - Dallas, New Orleans, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco
  • Plan 5
    • Eastern - Detroit, Minnesota, New York Giants, Philadelphia, Washington
    • Central - Chicago, Dallas, Green Bay, St. Louis Cardinals
    • Western - Atlanta, Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans, San Francisco

Three expansion teams have joined the NFC since the merger, thus making the current total 16. When the Seattle Seahawks and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers joined the league in 1976, they were temporarily placed in the NFC and AFC, respectively, for one season before they switched conferences. The Seahawks returned to the NFC as a result of the 2002 realignment. The Carolina Panthers joined the NFC in 1995.

Since the 2002 realignment, no NFC team has made back-to-back Super Bowl appearances. Since 2001--when the St. Louis Rams lost Super Bowl XXXVI to the New England Patriots--the NFC has sent 11 of 16 teams to the Super Bowl, with only Atlanta (which appeared in Super Bowl XXXIII just three years prior), Dallas (last appeared in Super Bowl XXX), Detroit (never appeared in a Super Bowl), Minnesota (last appeared in Super Bowl XI, currently the longest such drought in the NFC), and Washington (last appeared in Super Bowl XXVI) having not appeared for the conference, although the Falcons and Vikings have appeared in the NFC Championship Game in that span. By contrast, the AFC have sent either the Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, or the Pittsburgh Steelers in every year in that same span except for 2002, when the Oakland Raiders lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII, and 2012, when the Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.

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