The AFL and NFL merger is the driving factor for where the NFL is today. The NFL had always had rival leagues try and take over, and many failed due to financial reasons. The NFL absorbed the AAFC, but ten years later, the AFL came about. In 1960 there were eight franchises. You had teams in Boston, Buffalo, New York City, Houston, Denver, Dallas, Oakland, and Los Angeles. Some of these shared markets with already NFL teams, but it is credited to the expansion of football in America. The AFL did end up moving teams to Kansas City and San Diego.
Between these two leagues, there was a lot of clashing, as the AFL was financially sturdy in comparison to the other leagues. They would also go up against NFL teams in bidding for players coming out of college. The NFL eventually sat down and discussed a merger. This would bring the league to 24 teams, and was to be increased by two over the next few seasons. The agreement included the addition of a few new teams, as well as established franchises be able to keep their place in their location.
In the end, the NFL came out as winners, but what we know as the NFL today has a lot to do with the AFL pushing the NFL boundaries and taking in teams in cities that may not have ever seen one under the NFL. We also see all the new stadiums and locations with franchises, like Jacksonville and Carolina. Smaller markets are more in play, despite people talking about them having a disadvantage in comparison to bigger market teams. The 32 team NFL we see today has a lot to do with the AFL-NFL merger.
NFL Relocation History
After the AFL and NFL merger back in 1970, we have seen plenty of moves around the league for teams. Some were going from one city to another, and then back to their original city. In 1982 the Oakland Raiders moved to Los Angeles after the team won the right to move in a court case with the NFL. The Raiders played in Los Angeles for 13 years before returning to Oakland in 1995. The Los Angeles Rams ended up moving to St. Louis in the same year. In 2016 the Rams ended up moving to Los Angeles after 21 seasons in St. Louis. The San Diego Chargers ended up moving back to Los Angeles to now give them two NFL teams. You also now have the Raiders in Las Vegas as they have bounced around a few times over the last 50 years.
We also saw the Baltimore Colts move to Indianapolis, where they have been permanent. One of the most controversial moves was the 1996 Cleveland Browns moving to Baltimore to form the Ravens. Art Modell just picked up and moved the team out of nowhere. This left a vacancy in Cleveland, and there was a three-year gap where there was no NFL team. Eventually, they became the Browns and began to play again in 1999. However, they have never recovered in terms of winning. Despite all the chaos they are now division rivals and everything paved way to an even NFL set of teams.
Houston has had its share of regaining NFL relevance, and Tennessee would get an NFL team in 1997 when they moved to Tennessee to become the Oilers. They would eventually become the Titans and move from Memphis to Nashville. Houston would get back a franchise in 2002 when they became the Houston Texans. The Texans and Titans are divisional rivals as well, as we have seen these new relocated franchises still have some close ties to their old stomping grounds.
Best NFL Teams Of All-Time
We can start with the 1985 Chicago Bears, which is one of the top teams of all-time. Of course, we can go through eras and talk about the changes that affect ranking the best teams of all-time, but let's just appreciate them for what they were. The Bears team here was dominant on both sides of the ball, as they had Walter Payton and Jim McMahon on the offensive side. Defensively this team is considered the best defense of all-time, as they held opponents to 12 points per game. They had an average margin of victory of 18.1 that season. The only undefeated team in NFL history is the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who pop their champagne every year that the last undefeated team goes down. The offense was electric, scoring 27.5 points per game. They were dominant on the ground, rushing for nearly 3,000 yards and 26 touchdowns. The 1973 Dolphins is also up there.
The 1991 Washington Redskins went 14-2 that season and scored 30.3 points per game, holding teams to just 14. Teams were no match as they ran to the Super Bowl and won by two scores. Joe Gibbs goes down as one of the top coaches of all time was at the helm this season. They won by an average victory of 18.3 points that season. A few years earlier, the 1984 San Francisco 49ers were one of the top teams of all-time. They averaged 29 points per game with Joe Montana dominating. Overall you can talk about a few 49ers teams in this era that dominated as they were a dynasty. Speaking of dynasties, the Pittsburgh Steelers have had a handful of runs, but the 1975 Pittsburgh Steelers were one of the top teams ever. Defensively they held opponents to just 11 points per game.
In more recent years, the 2007 New England Patriots were a Super Bowl win away from going undefeated. The Randy Moss and Tom Brady connections were one of the best in NFL history. This offense averaged a whopping 37 points per game, but the defense allowed just 17 points per game. They were dynamic on both sides of the ball. We saw offenses evolve after the 2000s, and the St. Louis Rams were one of the top offenses entering the era. They averaged 31 points per game and eventually went on to win the Super Bowl. The 2009 Colts were also a powerhouse where they went on and won 14 games and scored 26 points per game. However, the season ended in disappointing playoff fashion.
Worst NFL Teams Of All-Time
After looking at the best teams in NFL history, we can certainly pinpoint the worst. There is an easy contender with the 2008 Detroit Lions going 0-16. Offensively this team struggled as the quarterback play was abysmal. The defense was inside the bottom, and the head coach Rod Marinelli was a laughing stock. The 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers go down as one of the worst teams ever, as they scored less than ten points per game and didn’t win a single game over the 14 games. They went onto lose 26 straight games. Before the New England empire took over, they were not very good as they were bottom three in offense and defense for the 1990 season. They went 1-15 that season.
The 1973 Houston Oilers struggled in both the 1972 and 1973 season, where they won just two games over the span of 28 games. The defense was in shambles allowing over 30 points in that total span. The 1991 Indianapolis Colts went just 1-15, and they averaged less than 15 points per game. Not too long ago, the 2001 Carolina Panthers lost 15 straight games and averaged just 15 points per game. Chris Weinke was the starting quarterback, which says a lot about this year as a whole. The 1-15 New York Jets in 1996 was a young group with promising potential, yet they fell completely flat. This led to the Jets hiring Bill Parcells.
The league has expanded its international interest over the last few years. We have seen games played in Mexico City and London. There have been talks of a potential team in London, but this was always going to get some push back from the players, given the travel schedule is already hectic enough as it is. London has been the major city of choice for the NFL, which is odd given Toronto has hardly been talked about for an option, but they are close to Buffalo and Detroit as rooting options go. Stadiums would not be a tough sell for the NFL as London has opened Wembley and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to the NFL for use already. Working around the Premier League would be another hurdle.
We could potentially see an expansion in the works which would bring the league to 33 teams, although relocating a few of the smaller market teams is likely the choice the NFL would make. As of 2020, there are more hurdles for the NFL to clear moving across the pond. Things such as getting a true new team market, revenue sharing, league schedule, taxes, and also a team competing with the already established teams. This is a major issue because, in free agency, London will not be an ideal spot for players to want to move their families.
At some point in the distant future, there will likely be an international football team. Over the next few seasons, it is increasingly unlikely to happen so quickly. In the meantime, we will continue to see teams play in other areas of the world as the NFL tries to build their global brand. We have seen more and more sports leagues host games in other countries around the world, and it has had a lot of success. How that translates with putting an expansion team overseas is still up in the air.
There are 32 NFL football teams that are divided into two conferences and then four divisions per each conference. Every team is currently in the United States, as there are no other countries holding teams like the other major sports.
How Many NFL Teams Are In Each Division?
There are a total of eight divisions in the NFL, and each team has four teams within the division. These teams and divisions are going to be grouped by location, such as the NFC South, or the AFC West.
How Many NFL Teams Are In Each Conference?
The NFL has two conferences, the NFC and the AFC. Both conferences consist of four divisions, and 16 total teams. There has continued to be a balance where each conference has the same amount of teams as the other conference.
Why Do NFL Teams Relocate?
Teams relocate mostly for financial reasons, as they look to go to more lucrative markets. We have recently seen teams move to Los Angeles and Las Vegas from smaller locations. It gives a chance for a team to make more money.
Can NFL Teams Buy Players?
NFL teams cannot purchase players from another NFL team like soccer. Once a player is under contract with a team, they remain with that team until the contract is terminated or they are traded to another team. Players can be signed during free agency.
Can NFL Teams Get Relegated?
Unlike football in the rest of the world, American Football does not have a relegation system in place because there is only one league. The bottom teams will remain in the NFL each season, which bodes well for teams like Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Detroit.
What States Have More Than One NFL Team?
There are a few stats with more than one NFL team. California, Texas, Florida, Ohio, and New York are the five states that have more than one NFL team. These states can do this because of the large markets that occupy the state.