The National Football League is America’s biggest and most popular professional sports league. The NFL is contested over 17 weeks, by 32 franchises, which comprise and control professional football in the United States.
Teams participating in the NFL are divided into the North American Football Conference and the National Football Conference. Participants in both conferences compete in round-robin home-and-away fixtures, with the top six teams in each conference progressing through to the end of season playoffs.
The NFL playoffs follow a single-elimination format and culminate in the iconic Super Bowl, the NFL’s grand final.
Betting is an important part of NFL culture in the United States, with huge numbers of fans of the sport betting on NFL matches every year. This has resulted in the generation of a massive array of NFL betting markets, which punters outside the United States can participate in by using online sportsbooks.
The NFL evolved out of an unofficial league contested by football clubs during the late 1800s known as the Ohio League. The creation of the Ohio League provided the foundations for a national championship, which was first held in 1903.
During the 1920s the American Professional Football Association was founded by combining the powers of the 11 most established football franchises in the United States, thereby providing the infrastructure for a national league. Although the league expanded rapidly, doubling in size in its first year alone, it remained poorly organised and regulated.
The NFL remained a relatively minor sports league well into the 1960s, when the creation of the rival American Football League changed the face of professional football in the United States. A host of changes were introduced into the AFL to make the sport more competitive and interesting, whilst the creation of new franchises expanded the fan base of the game.
During the 1970s the popularity of American Football increased substantially and the sport superseded baseball as the country’s favourite spectator sport. In 1980 the AFL agreed to being assimilated into the NFL, creating the biggest and most popular sports league in the United States.
The Green Bay Packers are recognised as the greatest team in the history of the National Football League. The Green Bay Packers have not only won the NFL 12 times, but are also one of the few sports franchises in the world to have developed into cultural icons.