What Are the NFL Conference Standings?
The NFL conference standings are a way of classifying each conference by win success rate. Teams are ranked in order, from first to worst within their conference, according to their wins-to-losses ratio, which in the end, decides the seedings for the NFL playoffs.
The NFL standings also often show points for and points against, as well as win streaks and home/away performance. The NFL standings boards are regularly updated each week, so teams are able to ascend and descend the board depending on their form.
How Many Conferences are in the NFL?
There are two conferences in the NFL; the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC).
The two conferences came about in 1970 when the American Football League (AFL) merged with their rivals the National Football League (NFL) . The NFL name remained with the teams previously in the NFL competing in the NFC and the teams from the AFL competing in the AFC.
The two conferences are split into four divisions, with the winner of each of the divisions making the playoffs along with three Wild Card teams. The Wild Card are the teams highest up their NFL conference standings at the end of the season that did not win their respective divisions. The standings also allocate the seedings of those teams in the playoffs ranked 1 through 7. The No. 1 seed gets an automatic bye in the Wild Card Round, the first round of NFL playoff action.
The American Football Conference (AFC) encompasses four divisions; the AFC East, AFC North, AFC South, and the AFC West. The winners of each division, along with the three Wild Card teams, qualify for the playoffs and play against each other to make it to the Super Bowl. The AFC Championship Game has the teams compete for the Lamar Hunt Trophy and the right to play the winner of the NFC conference in the Super Bowl. The 2022 AFC champions were the Kansas City Chiefs, who went on to win the Super Bowl and lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
The National Football Conference (NFC) also has four divisions. They are the NFC East, NFC North, NFC South, and the NFC West. The playoff format for the NFC is identical to that in the AFC, with teams competing for the George S. Halas Trophy in the NFC Championship Game and the winner progressing to that year’s Super Bowl. Last year’s NFC champions were the Philadelphia Eagles, who narrowly missed out on their second Super Bowl victory.
History of NFL Conferences in the NFL
Both the NFC and AFC began in 1970 after the merger of the National Football League (NFL) and the American Football League (AFL). The AFL was a competitor to the NFL, which was the most popular and superior football league. Many start-up leagues had attempted to rival the dominance of the NFL, and the AFL was the only one to seriously compete.
As the AFL grew in popularity with both fans and players, a merger was agreed in 1966 before the unification happened in 1970. The NFL name would be kept and all existing franchises would remain. The NFL was split into the two conferences that still remain today, the AFL teams made up the AFC and the NFL teams made up the NFC.
There have been several changes to the division format since 1970, with expansion teams entering, team relocations, and divisional shake-ups. But, the current conference divisional format has been in place since 2002.