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NFL Champions League - Congrats 49ers! 2013 Champions League Title

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Welcome to the NFL Champions League! Every year, the NFL division champions play four other division champions from the previous season. Of those games, which division champion does the best against the other division champions? That's the NFL Champions League, the league-within-a-league.

The origin:

My favorite new sports thing is the UEFA Champions League (I'm relatively new to the inner workings of world soccer). What a fantastic idea to have a full season-within-a-season of just the top teams from all the European soccer leagues. Along with relegation/promotion, it’s something I really wish we had in North American sports leagues. I started thinking about how a football Champions League could work with only one actual league in the entire world when I realized that there IS sort of a way the NFL pits its best teams against each other each year.

Since 2002, the NFL has had eight divisions of four teams, and a pretty rigorous way they schedule the games. Basically, each division plays against all the teams in one division in their conference and one division in the other conference. By default, that means each division winner is already playing two other division winners. Two games each season are played against the remaining two division winners from your conference. So each season, every division winner plays at least four other division winners from the previous season. It’s not a complete schedule of division champions playing all other division champions, but it provides for a great sampling each season.

Scoring and ranking:

Each victory is worth two Champions League points, and the Champions League winner is the team that accumulates the most points. If two or more teams are tied at the end of the regular season, the first tie-breakers are any Champions League matchups that occur in the NFL playoffs. Head-to-head matchup, if one occurs, is looked at first. Barring that, accumulated CL playoff points is used to determine the winner. If it's still tied, then it's regular season point differential, followed by playoff point differential in any Champions League games.

There are up to four playoff games that can also be CL games resulting in a potential additional 8 points. This results in a maximum potential point total of 16 points if it defeats a fellow Champions League team in the wildcard round, two conference rounds and the Super Bowl. To date, no team has played eight Champions League game in one season, and only one has played as many as seven games.

The schedule:

Each week, I’m going to reveal the results of the previous Champions League seasons, which began in 2003 (based on the eight 2002 division champions, the first year of the new schedule format). I’m also going to highlight the Champions League games from this season that have already occurred, and from here on out I’ll give weekly previews and recaps of any Champions League games as they take place. The next Champions League game isn’t until NFL Week 12 when the Patriots face the Broncos, and the Redskins take on the 49ers.

I just want to reiterate that these results are based on the actual NFL games that are played, not a fantasy or simulated league.

That’s the background of what this is and why I’m doing it. Up next are the logos and symbols of the NFL Champions League.

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The NFL Champions League prides itself on simplicity and elegance and acknowledging its place as a league-within-a-league. There were discussions for full Champions League alternate uniforms for CL games, but it was decided to keep it subtle.

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To this end, the NFL Champions League developed the eight-pointed star to represent the league, one point for each division champion. The Champions Star is used in various ways, including patches or helmet decals, but the most visible way is in the subtle variation of the NFL Shield, where the traditional stars are replaced with the Champions Stars.

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Additionally, the primary CL icon is the Champions C-Star which is a C intersected by the Champions Star.

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The C-Star is used in the league wordmark, and in a patch CL teams are able to wear on the front of the jerseys in the seasons when the play in the Champions League.

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From the start, the mandate has been to enhance the NFL, not overshadow it, so more often than not, unless you’re looking for signs of the Champions League, you will probably not notice it.

Next up, the first Champions League Winners from 2003.

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In 2003, the inaugural NFL Champions League was made up of the eight division winners from 2002, the first year of the new divisional structure and schedule format. Those first eight division champions were the Jets, Steelers, Titans, Raiders, Eagles, Packers, Bucs, and 49ers. (boy, that sure seems like a lifetime ago when that combination of teams was actually good).

To calculate the NFL Champions League results, I created a grid that I’m going to attempt to paste within this topic. Each division winner plays at least four other division winners, and up to four more potentially in the NFL playoffs. There have been three seasons where no NFL playoff games resulted in any Champions League games, but generally there are two to four CL games embedded in the NFL playoffs.

In 2002, here’s how the regular season played out.

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Here’s how the NFL playoffs played out.

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Final 2003 NFL Champions League standings looked like this:

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Playoff victories are credited as more valuable than regular season victories, so in the case of ties, the winner will be the Champions League team with the most CL victories in NFL playoff games. 2003 resulted in a five way tie for most total points with 6, but Philadelphia was the only team that won an NFL playoff game against one of the other CL teams (Green Bay).

Thus, the Philadelphia Eagles earned the first ever NFL Champions League Title. Interestingly, this is the only season to date where a team won the title with less than 8 points, and the only one that had to be decided by tie-breaker, as every other season had a definitive winner.

To commemorate it’s NFL Champions League title, in the following season, 2004, the Eagles received permission to place a Champions Star on their helmet during Champions League games.

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We are currently in the middle of the 2013 NFL Champions League season.

Here's the current grid. Numbers in the boxes indicate the upcoming week number that two intersecting teams will play each other.

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Current standings look like this:
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It's still early, but New England, Denver and San Francisco look like they should easily finish at the top of the table by season's end. Denver and New England play each other in week 12, so only one of those two can finish out the season undefeated. San Francisco has what looks like easy victories over Atlanta and Washington remaining on their schedule so more than likely, it will be San Francisco and one AFC team fighting it out for the title by season's end. Currently, only San Francisco, Denver and New England appear likely to be making the NFL playoffs, so there may be an additional two points possible for either Denver or New England, should they meet.
Next up, the 2004 winner.




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This is an interesting idea. Personally, I don't really like how you emphasize playoff wins because many of the teams (even if they reach the playoffs) don't get a chance to play other CL teams. In 2003 Philadelphia finished the regular season 2-2 in the CL. They won a playoff game to get to 3-2. Meanwhile, the Jets, Titans, Packers, and 49ers all finished 3-1. Even after the playoffs, the Eagles had a winning percentage of .600 while the other teams had a .750 winning percentage. Yet, they are given the league championship.

My suggestion would be to only use the regular season and break ties by point differential. It isn't perfect because not all teams play each other, but no system can be perfect without a full home-and-home schedule.

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Very fair point. I agree that it's probably not fair that Philadelphia got to play an extra game to make the needed number of points to win the title. However, I also like taking a full season sampling of every Champions League team when the play each other, playoffs or not. I look at it as the only time you play a Champions League team in the playoffs is when both of those teams have been good for not just one season, but two in a row. It's interesting seeing how much of a turnover there is in division champions each year when looked at through this prism.

That said, I think I might be willing to look into going for final winning percentage, rather than total points. However, that's not fair also, because it penalizes a team for making the playoffs by having to potentially face more chances at procuring a loss.

Another way might be to make the regular season points the first criteria, and then playoff points the first tiebreaker, then winning percentage, then point differential.

Whichever way I go, I think I'm still going to leave Philadelphia as the first champion, and make the controversy part of the fabric of the history, with rules changes coming the following season. Let me go and see if using any of these suggestions actually changes the results (keyboard clicking as I peruse 2004's results) . 2005 and 2012 would be the only ones that change. Every other year had a clear-cut regular season winner that also went on to be the playoff winner if those games came into play.

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I wasn't trying to suggest that winning percentage should determine the winner; I was only trying to point out that of all the 6 point teams, Philadelphia had the worst record in the regular season so it seemed odd that they were awarded the championship. I can see how you thought that I was advocating for using winning percentage from my post. I have no problem with the idea of the postseason being used as a tiebreaker (maybe award them one point for each playoff win).

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2004 saw the Patriots winning both the Super Bowl title and the Champions League title. They also completed the first undefeated Champions League season, going 4-0 in the regular season and 2-0 in the NFL playoffs, including a Super Bowl victory against the Eagles.

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Following in the tradition established by the Eagles, the Patriots added the Champions Star to their helmet for the following season's CL games, however, they began the new tradition of subtly placing the star in their logo. All subsequent Champions League winners have also followed suit and have attempted to cleverly incorporate the star.

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Next up, 2005.

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Cool Idea, can't wait to see more!

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After major complaining about the points structure by the four teams who technically had a better regular season Champions League record in 2003 than eventual winner Philadelphia, the Champions League Committee re-evaluated the ranking structure and made a small, but major alteration. Now, the Title will be determined entirely based on regular season head-to-head matchups, which total four each season. Previously, point totals were based on both regular season and playoff Champions League games. After 2004, playoff point totals will only be used to break ties. In the event of a tie after both regular season and NFL playoff points, then point differential will be the next determinant, followed by away points.
Under this new ranking system, the 2005 Champions League Title winners are the Seattle Seahawks.
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The team that is still upset about this late change of scoring is the Pittsburgh Steelers, who would have become champion under the previous system. Especially galling was the fact that they defeated the Seahawks in the Super Bowl and would have earned the Difecta.
Following suit with the Eagles and Patriots, the Seahawks created their own special Champions League helmet that they have used in all CL games the following seasons.

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Up next, 2006.

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LOVE the star on the Seahawks logo.

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2006 saw the second undefeated NFL Champions League season along with two NFL playoff games against CL teams. The Colts beat all competition during the regular season and then earned an additional 4 CL points by beating the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, and then the Bears in the Super Bowl. Going strictly by where in the season the CL playoff victories occurred, the 2004 Colts remain the most impressive Champions League team to date.
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When it came time for the Colts to incorporate the Champions Star into their logo for subsequent CL seasons, there was a bit of internal debate. GM Bill Polian was in favor of replacing all the rivets in the logo with Champions Stars, but Peyton Manning insisted that they replace one at a time when and if the Colts win future CL Titles. This new precedent has been adopted by other Champions League teams as well.

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Up Next, 2007, the beginning of a mini NFL Champions League dynasty.

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2007 saw the first two-time Champions League Title winner, as the Patriots tore through both the NFL and CL regular seasons undefeated. They won an addition CL game in the NFL playoffs, but didn't need it.
By far, the Patriots have the most accumulated Champions League points to date, with 46 in all games, both regular season and playoffs. Number two are the Colts, with 28 total CL points. Tied with the Colts at 28 is the 2008 Champions League winner, which we will reveal next time. But even though the Patriots fell a Tyree short of a perfect season and the Difecta, they are able to console themselves with the 2007 Champions League Title.
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When it came time to decide how they'd modify their logo, the debate was between whether or not to add a second star somewhere, or to just let the single star in the hat continue. The no-nonsense Patriots opted to just "act like they'd been there before" and stayed with the one star.

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Up next, 2008, and the second-most successful Champions League team makes its debut at the top of the table.

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Is 2008... Green Bay? and will their logo be similar to the Champions League logo only in the form of a G instead of a C?

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I love this idea. Mostly because it's almost like an actual competition apart from the fact that the teams don't really know it lol. I've already calculated every winner so far too, was disappointed that my team hasn't won another title yet.

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Yes, sadly, your team hasn't won again and has only come close once. Two other times they totally stunk it up. And no, Green Bay doesn't win in 2008. In fact, they've only finished higher than fifth one time, and that was the 2003 season when five teams tied for first, but Green Bay was fourth after tiebreakers. They were looking pretty good this year until Rodgers injury. Their final Champions League game isn't until week 14, so maybe he'll be back by then. It's going to be tough to overcome San Francisco, though. The 49ers have two victories already, with only Atlanta and Washington remaining on their CL schedule. But yes, should Green Bay ever win, your suggestion was pretty close to what I was considering. if you have any ideas for Champions League logos, feel free to post them, as I've only got a few more done, some because they are winners, and some just to see how they work (Dolphins, Texans, Ravens, Steelers). The Texans obviously have never won a Champions League title, but they are considering breaking with tradition and wearing the star on their helmet during their CL games anyway.

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In the event of a tie after both regular season and NFL playoff points, then point differential will be the next determinant, followed by away points.

Does this mean total NFL regular season point differential and away points, or only in CL games?

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Wow I love this idea! I have calculated that the Athletics would have won the MLB Champions League this season. Football lends itself much better to this idea because of the way the schedule is set up.

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