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I have only been watching NFL for about a year and a few things i am unsure about regarding league structure.

What is the difference between the National and American Leagues?

Why is there 2.

Why is there subdivisions in each league,

Do teams from other leagues play each other.

How are playoff spots decided, is it the top 4/5in a division or the top from each subdivision.

Do the divisions change each season,

Do they rotate fixtures. Ie 2006 Steelers goto Clevland then 2007 Clevland goto Steelers.

Also why do they not do like in soccer where it is so many points for a win. What is with the percentage

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I have only been watching NFL for about a year and a few things i am unsure about regarding league structure.

What is the difference between the National and American Leagues?

Why is there 2.

Why is there subdivisions in each league,

Do teams from other leagues play each other.

How are playoff spots decided, is it the top 4/5in a division or the top from each subdivision.

Do the divisions change each season,

Do they rotate fixtures. Ie 2006 Steelers goto Clevland then 2007 Clevland goto Steelers.

Also why do they not do like in soccer where it is so many points for a win. What is with the percentage

1. There are 2 because the NFL and AFL once were two competing football leagues during the late 1950s to the late 1960s. They merged after Super Bowl V in 1972 IIRC, and became one league, with the two conferences inside of the league being the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC).

2. There are subdivisions to pretty much organize playoff spots, since the division winners are guaranteed playoff spots and the next best 2 teams get the wildcard spot and the best two division winners get a week off of the 1st Round (Wildcard Round) of the playoffs. The divisions are also there for geographical reasons, which leads to pretty fervent rivalries as a result.

3. Teams from each conference do play each other, but only a maximum of 4 games from the other conference. (Ex: Atlanta, in the NFC South, plays the 4 teams in the AFC North this year.)

4. Playoff Spots are decided, like I said before, by the 4 division winners in each conference, then the 2 next best teams get the wildcard spot. The 2 best division winners get a bye, while the next 2 division winners play the 2 wild card teams. They determine who plays the best two in the 2nd Round (Divisional Playoffs). Winner of that game goes to the 3rd Round (Conference Championship), and winner of that game goes to the Super Bowl. This is done for both conferences.

EX: Tampa Bay, Chicago, Seattle, and New York (NFC) win their divisions. Carolina and Washington are the next best 2 teams that didn't win a division, so they earn the wild card. Chicago and Seattle had the best record of the 4, so they get a bye from the 1st Round, which means Carolina would play New York and Tampa Bay would play Washington. The winners would either play Chicago or Seattle, and the playoffs would be in knockout form from then on out.

5. Unless there is realignment (like there was in 2002 IIRC, since the addition of the Texans prompted the league to make 8 divisions with 4 teams since they now had a rounded 32 teams.), the divisions don't change.

6. They do rotate fixtures, but not like that. Each team plays its division rivals twice during the course of the season, which makes for 6 games right there. They play 4 teams from another division in their conference once, which adds 4 more games and makes 10 games right there. They play 4 teams from another division in another conference, which makes 14 games, then they play 2 teams from their conference based on their finish in last year's division and the other team's finish in last year's division.

EX: Atlanta is in the NFC South. They play New Orleans, Carolina, and Tampa Bay twice because they are in the NFC South as well. They play Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Baltimore since they are in the AFC North. They play Arizona and Detroit based on performance from last year.

And I believe the reason why they don't do points is because of tradition. They've been using the system of W/L/and the rare D since the 1920s and I don't think they'd change.

Hope that helps you out in a way.

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I have only been watching NFL for about a year and a few things i am unsure about regarding league structure.

What is the difference between the National and American Leagues?

Why is there 2.

Why is there subdivisions in each league,

Do teams from other leagues play each other.

How are playoff spots decided, is it the top 4/5in a division or the top from each subdivision.

Do the divisions change each season,

Do they rotate fixtures. Ie 2006 Steelers goto Clevland then 2007 Clevland goto Steelers.

Also why do they not do like in soccer where it is so many points for a win. What is with the percentage

I'll try one at a time (with some mixing around).

There are 2 because the two conferences were once separate leagues that merged, with some minor movement of teams between the two (sort of as if the English Premier League and Scottish Premier League merged).

The subdivisions are for scheduling and playoff purposes. In each conference, the 4 division winners and the teams with the next 2 best records make the playoffs. The division winners are seeded by record, with the other two being Nos. 5 and 6 (even if their overall records are better than the worst division winners). From there, the playoffs are 3 vs. 6 and 4 vs. 5, with 1 and 2 getting byes. After the conference playoffs are completed, the two winners meet in the Super Bowl.

Teams from the separate conferences play each other on a 4-year rotation by division. For example, this year each team from the AFC North (Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh) plays each team from the NFC South (Atlanta, Carolina, New Orleans, Tampa Bay) once (4 games total). The divisions that play will rotate next year but the divisions themselves do not change.

Teams within the conference play each other on a 3-year rotation by division. This year, each team from the AFC North plays each team from the AFC West (Denver, Kansas City, Oakland, San Diego) once (4 games total). The divisions that play will rotate next year.

Within the division, each team plays each other team home-and-away (6 games total). Using your example, Pittsburgh and Cleveland will play home-and-away since they are both in the AFC North.

The last two games are against the teams in your conference's non-rotation division that finished in the same position as you last year. For example, Baltimore finished 3rd in the AFC North last year, so it plays Tennessee and Buffalo, who finished 3rd in the AFC South and East, respectively. That makes up the last 2 games of the 16 game schedule.

As for percentage vs. points, it is effectively the same as a win=2, draw=1, loss=0 system, though technically a tie is considered half a win and half a loss. A team that finished with 10 wins, 5 losses and 1 tie would finish ahead of a team with 10 wins and 6 losses.

I won't get started on the tiebreaker system that comes into play if teams finished tied in the playoff race. :P

I hope this helps.

EDIT: Damn faster typists.

I can add this -- the AFL/NFL merger was announced in 1966 but didn't take effect on the field until after Super Bowl IV (for the 1970 regular season).

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EDIT: Damn faster typists.

I can add this -- the AFL/NFL merger was announced in 1966 but didn't take effect on the field until after Super Bowl IV (for the 1970 regular season).

lol

but yeah, I knew it was somewhere around Super Bowl IV or V, but I never knew that they had it planned way back before Super Bowl I. Suprised me, guess you learn something new everyday.

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TFOA and leopard have put it nicely. Also each team plays a rotating division in it's own conference. So, again using the Falcons, this year they play the AFC North, The NFC East, two NFC teams chosen by previous record and their division (NFC South) twice each, home and road. Here's a picture to clarify:

falconsched.jpg

Hope this helps and didn't confuse things further.

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I have only been watching NFL for about a year and a few things i am unsure about regarding league structure.

What is the difference between the National and American Leagues?

No differences exist between the National and American Conferences. When they were the National Football LEAGUE & the American Football LEAGUE (!960-1970), the AFL (American Football League) had slightly different rules.

Why is there 2.

There are two conferences due to the fact that in 1960, the American Football League began with 8 teams. Also in 1960 the NFL expanded from 12 teams to 13 teams, adding the Dallas Cowboys.

Why is there subdivisions in each league,

Because if each conference were not divided into four 4 team divisions, you'd inevitably have 1 team finishing in 16th place, vs 4th place, and it's unlikely that many would want to pay good money to go watch a 16th place team. By having divisions, it allows more teams a potential better chance at qualifying for the post-season tournament, affectionately known as the Playoffs, and ultimately the last game, the final game, the Super Bowl.

Do teams from other leagues play each other.

No, the NFL is a self-contained 32 team league. They only play against one another, they do not compete with other teams from other leagues (i.e. the Arena Football League, NFL Europe League, etc)

How are playoff spots decided, is it the top 4/5in a division or the top from each subdivision.

Playoff spots are decided after a 16 game regular season, played over a 17 week schedule, has been played by all 32 teams. Each conference has six playoff spots available. Four playoff spots are awarded to the 4 division winners, and they are seeded #1, #2, #3 and #4. The 2 teams who were NON-Division winners who had the best winning percentage are awarded wild card berths, and are seeded as #5 and #6, even if one or both wild card teams have a better record than a division winner. (Refer to 2005 NFL standings for an example, specifically the New England Patriots & Jacksonville Jaguars).

Do the divisions change each season,

The divisions have remained unchanged since the start of the 2002 season when the Houston Texans joined the NFL as the 32nd franchise. Should a team or teams ever relocate, or should there ever be expansion (more new teams joining the league), then at that time the league would determine what changes, if any, are necessary to re-align the divisions. Hopefully this will not happen, as 32 teams to me is the ideal and perfect number of teams in the NFL. As you are no doubt aware, both the AFC and NFC have 4 divisions, named North, South, East & West.

Do they rotate fixtures. Ie 2006 Steelers goto Clevland then 2007 Clevland goto Steelers.

Each year the Steelers host Cleveland and Cleveland also hosts the Steelers. All teams within the same division play each other twice during the regular season, with each team getting one home game. As for the other rotation of games, a good source book to refer to is the NFL Record & Fact Book. I own the 2003 book and that outlines the scheduling format through the 2009 season.

Also why do they not do like in soccer where it is so many points for a win. What is with the percentage

Winning percentage is computed by taking the number of games won divided by the number of games played. For example, a team that is 4-1 (4 wins 1 loss) would have a winning percentage of .800 (4 divided by 5). It is the same formula used to determine a batting average in baseball. In the rare instance that a game should end in a tie, for the purposes of computating the winning percentage, a tie is considered the same as half a win. So if a team had a record of 6-3-1 (6 wins, 3 losses, 1 tie) their winning percentage would be .650, or 6.5 divided by 10. The "points for a win" system however is utilized by the National Hockey League.

Hope this helps clarify things for you. These are very good questions you ask. May one presume you do not reside in the United States, or that you are a recent arrival?

Warmest regards, and keep the questions coming!

Bill McD.

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Cheers for the replies guys really clears things up, Guess i am too used to watching english sports, where everyone plays everyone.

No doubt will make it a bit easier to understand now i just have to learn all the positions and formations.

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