List of NFL champions (1920–69)

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For the list of post-1969 NFL champions, see List of Super Bowl champions
A group of 18 men, 11 standing in back and seven sitting in front. Above the men, centered in the middle of the poster, is text that says "Worlds Champs". Under that is the phrase "Akron Professionals" - the year 1920 is placed between "Akron" and "Professionals".
The 1920 Akron Pros were named the first APFA (NFL) champions.

The National Football League champions, prior to the merger between the National Football League (NFL) and American Football League (AFL) in 1970, were determined by two different systems. The National Football League was established on September 17, 1920 as the American Professional Football Association (APFA). The APFA changed its name in 1922 to the National Football League, which it has retained ever since.[1] From 1920 to 1931, the APFA/NFL determined its champion by overall win–loss record, with no playoff games;[2] ties were not counted in the winning percentage total.[3] Although the APFA did not keep records of the 1920 season, they declared the Akron Pros, who finished the season with an 8–0–3 (8 wins, 0 losses, 3 ties) record, as the league's first champions. The Canton Bulldogs won two straight championships from 1922 to 1923, and the Green Bay Packers won three in a row from 1929 to 1931.[4]

The 1932 NFL season resulted in a tie for first place between the Chicago Bears and Portsmouth Spartans, and could not be resolved by the typical win–loss system. To settle the tie, a playoff game was played; Chicago won the game and the championship. The following year the NFL split into two divisions, and the winner of each division would play in the NFL Championship Game.[2] In 1967, the NFL and the rival AFL agreed to merge, effective following the 1969 season;[5] as part of this deal, the NFL champion from 1966 to 1969 would play the AFL champion in an AFL–NFL World Championship Game in each of the four seasons before the completed merger. The NFL Championship Game was ended after the 1969 season, succeeded by the NFC Championship Game.[2][6] The champions of that game play the champions of the AFC Championship Game in the Super Bowl to determine the NFL champion.[2]

The Green Bay Packers won the most NFL championships before the merger, winning eleven of the fifty championships. The Packers were also the only team to win three straight championships, an achievement they accomplished twice: from 1929–31 and from 1965–67. The Chicago Bears won a total of eight titles, and the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, and New York Giants each won four. The Bears recorded the largest victory in a championship game, defeating the Washington Redskins 73–0 in the 1940 NFL Championship Game; six other title games ended in a shutout as well. The Philadelphia Eagles recorded two consecutive shutouts in 1948 and 1949. New York City hosted the most championship games (eight), while the highest-attended title game was the 1955 NFL Championship Game, where 85,693 fans showed up in Los Angeles to watch the Browns beat the Rams 38–14.[4]

APFA/NFL champions (1920–32)[edit]

Champion determined by win–loss percentage. The number in parentheses indicates the number of championships the franchise had won to that point.

1920[B]Akron Pros8031.000Decatur Staleys1012.909[4]
1921[C]Chicago Staleys911.900Buffalo All-Americans912.900[4]
1922Canton Bulldogs10011.000Chicago Bears930.750[4]
1923Canton Bulldogs (2)11011.000Chicago Bears921.818[4]
1924Cleveland Bulldogs711.875Chicago Bears614.857[4]
1925Chicago Cardinals[D]1121.846Pottsville Maroons1020.833[9]
1926Frankford Yellow Jackets1412.933Chicago Bears1213.923[9]
1927New York Giants1111.917Green Bay Packers721.778[9]
1928Providence Steam Roller812.889Frankford Yellow Jackets1132.786[9]
1929Green Bay Packers12011.000New York Giants1311.929[9]
1930Green Bay Packers (2)1031.769New York Giants1340.765[9]
1931Green Bay Packers (3)1220.857Portsmouth Spartans1130.786[9]
1932[E]Chicago Bears (2)716.875Green Bay Packers1031.769[9]

NFL champions (1933–69)[edit]

Numbers in parentheses in the table indicate the number of times that team won the NFL championship as of the championship game.

Eastern Division (1933–49)Western Division (1933–49)^
American Conference (1950–52)National Conference (1950–52)^
Eastern Conference (1953–69)Western Conference (1953–69)^
SeasonDateWinning teamScoreLosing teamSiteAttendanceRef.(s)
1933December 17, 1933Chicago Bears (3)^23–21New York GiantsChicago26,000[6][9]
1934December 9, 1934New York Giants (2)30–13Chicago Bears^New York35,059[6][9]
1935December 15, 1935Detroit Lions26–7New York GiantsDetroit15,000[6][9]
1936December 13, 1936Green Bay Packers (4)^21–6Boston RedskinsNew York (2)29,545[6][9]
1937December 12, 1937Washington Redskins28–21Chicago Bears^Chicago (2)15,870[6][9]
1938December 11, 1938New York Giants (3)23–17Green Bay Packers^New York (3)48,120[6][10]
1939December 10, 1939Green Bay Packers (5)^27–0New York GiantsMilwaukee32,279[6][10]
1940December 8, 1940Chicago Bears (4)^73–0Washington RedskinsWashington36,034[6][10]
1941December 21, 1941Chicago Bears (5)^37–9New York GiantsChicago (3)13,341[6][10]
1942December 13, 1942Washington Redskins (2)14–6Chicago Bears^Washington (2)36,006[6][10]
1943December 26, 1943Chicago Bears (6)^41–21Washington RedskinsChicago (4)34,320[6][10]
1944December 17, 1944Green Bay Packers (6)^14–7New York GiantsNew York (4)46,016[6][10]
1945December 16, 1945Cleveland Rams^15–14Washington RedskinsCleveland32,178[6][10]
1946December 15, 1946Chicago Bears (7)^24–14New York GiantsNew York (5)58,346[6][10]
1947December 28, 1947Chicago Cardinals (2)^28–21Philadelphia EaglesChicago (5)30,759[6][10]
1948December 19, 1948Philadelphia Eagles7–0Chicago Cardinals^Philadelphia36,309[6][10]
1949December 18, 1949Philadelphia Eagles (2)14–0Los Angeles Rams^Los Angeles27,980[6][10]
1950December 24, 1950Cleveland Browns30–28Los Angeles Rams^Cleveland (2)29,751[6][11]
1951December 23, 1951Los Angeles Rams (2)^24–17Cleveland BrownsLos Angeles (2)57,522[11][12]
1952December 28, 1952Detroit Lions (2)^17–0Cleveland BrownsCleveland (3)50,934[11][12]
1953December 27, 1953Detroit Lions (3)^17–16Cleveland BrownsDetroit (2)54,577[11][12]
1954December 26, 1954Cleveland Browns (2)56–10Detroit Lions^Cleveland (4)43,827[11][12]
1955December 26, 1955Cleveland Browns (3)38–14Los Angeles Rams^Los Angeles (3)85,693[11][12]
1956December 30, 1956New York Giants (4)47–7Chicago Bears^New York (6)56,836[11][12]
1957December 29, 1957Detroit Lions (4)^59–14Cleveland BrownsDetroit (3)55,263[11][12]
1958December 28, 1958Baltimore Colts^23–17New York GiantsNew York (7)64,185[11][12]
1959December 27, 1959Baltimore Colts (2)^31–16New York GiantsBaltimore57,545[11][12]
1960December 26, 1960Philadelphia Eagles (3)17–13Green Bay Packers^Philadelphia (2)67,325[12][13]
1961December 31, 1961Green Bay Packers (7)^37–0New York GiantsGreen Bay39,029[12][13]
1962December 29, 1962Green Bay Packers (8)^16–7New York GiantsNew York (8)64,892[12][13]
1963December 29, 1963Chicago Bears (8)^14–10New York GiantsChicago (6)45,801[12][13]
1964December 27, 1964Cleveland Browns (4)27–0Baltimore Colts^Cleveland (5)79,544[12][13]
1965January 2, 1966Green Bay Packers (9)^23–12Cleveland BrownsGreen Bay (2)50,777[12][13]
1966January 1, 1967Green Bay Packers (10)[F]^34–27Dallas CowboysDallas74,152[12][13]
1967December 31, 1967Green Bay Packers (11)[G]^21–17Dallas CowboysGreen Bay (3)50,861[12][13]
1968December 29, 1968Baltimore Colts (3)[H]^34–0Cleveland BrownsCleveland (6)78,410[12][13]
1969January 4, 1970Minnesota Vikings[I]^27–7Cleveland BrownsBloomington46,503[12][13]

Total championships won[edit]

ClubWinnersRunners-upWinning years
Green Bay Packers1141929, 1930, 1931, 1936, 1939, 1944, 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1967
Decatur Staleys/Chicago Staleys/Chicago Bears891921, 1932, 1933, 1940, 1941, 1943, 1946, 1963
New York Giants4131927, 1934, 1938, 1956
Portsmouth Spartans/Detroit Lions421935, 1952, 1953, 1957
Cleveland Browns471950, 1954, 1955, 1964
Philadelphia Eagles311948, 1949, 1960
Baltimore Colts311958, 1959, 1968
Canton Bulldogs201922, 1923
Chicago Cardinals211925, 1947
Cleveland Rams/Los Angeles Rams231945, 1951
Boston Redskins/Washington Redskins241937, 1942
Akron Pros101920
Cleveland Bulldogs101924
Providence Steam Roller101928
Minnesota Vikings101969
Frankford Yellow Jackets111926
Dallas Cowboys02N/A
Buffalo All-Americans01N/A
Pottsville Maroons01N/A


  1. ^ a b Ties were disregarded in the standings.[3]
  2. ^ No official standings were recorded for the 1920 season and teams played games against opponents outside of the league. The championship was awarded to the Akron Pros in an APFA meeting on April 30, 1921.[2]
  3. ^ Chicago beat Buffalo on a controversial tiebreaker.[7]
  4. ^ Chicago was awarded the championship controversially because the Maroons had been suspended from the NFL for playing an exhibition game against a group of Notre Dame All-Stars.[8]
  5. ^ Chicago and Portsmouth finished with identical win–loss records, tying for first place in the NFL. To solve the tie, a playoff game was held between the two, counting towards the regular-season total. Chicago won the game and the championship while Portsmouth's loss dropped them to third place, behind Green Bay.[9]
  6. ^ Green Bay beat the American Football League's Kansas City Chiefs 35–10 in Super Bowl I.[13]
  7. ^ Green Bay beat the AFL's Oakland Raiders 33–14 in Super Bowl II.[13]
  8. ^ Baltimore lost to the AFL's New York Jets 16–7 in Super Bowl III.[13]
  9. ^ Minnesota lost to the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs 23–7 in Super Bowl IV.[13]
  1. ^ "Sept. 17, 1920 – The Founding of the NFL". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved July 9, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "NFL Champions". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved January 15, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Piascik, Andy (2005). "Old and New Style: Winning Percentages". The Coffin Corner (Professional Football Researchers Association) 27 (5). Retrieved January 16, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Past Standings, p. 27
  5. ^ Bell, Jarrett (June 30, 2009). "From upstart to big time, how the AFL changed the NFL". USA Today. Retrieved 15 January 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Playoff Game Summaries, p. 4
  7. ^ Snyder, Gib (January 6, 2012). "Buffalo: A city cursed with bad sports luck". The Observer. Ogden Newspapers. Retrieved January 16, 2013. 
  8. ^ Nelson, Robert (January 11, 2007). "The Curse". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved January 30, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Past Standings, p. 26
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Past Standings, p. 25
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Past Standings, p. 24
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Playoff Game Summaries, p. 3
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Past Standings, p. 22


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