Tomorrow, The New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons will meet in the 51st annual Super Bowl. Both teams are very evenly matched which should make for one of the best Super Bowls of recent memory. With us being so close to this epic matchup, it is necessary to look at the history of the Super Bowl and the playoff system.
Before the Super Bowl was created, there was the AFL, or American Football League, and the NFL, or National Football League. The two leagues operated separately from each other and were rivals for fan attendance.Tex Schramm, the general manager of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys at the time, secretly contacted AFL owners and asked if they were interested in a merger. The merger was announced on the evening of June 8, 1966, with the newly formed league adopting the NFL moniker and logo. The NFL, then, became the National Football Conference and the AFL became the American Football Conference.
On January 15, 1967, the first Super Bowl was held. The Green Bay Packers versus the Kansas City Chiefs was the matchup that started it all. The Packers ended up being the victors, winning 35 to 10. Both the Packers and the Chiefs had to play respective Conference Championships to make it to the Super Bowl. This is similar to the playoff today, but different in some aspects.
Each Conference has four divisions: East, West, North, and South. Every national team in the country, 32 in all, battle it out during the regular season to attain one of their respective conferences playoff spots. There are six total playoff spots or seeds for each conference. In the current playoff system, the teams with the best record in their division automatically fill up the first four playoff seeds. The last two seeds are filled up by the teams with the best record that didn’t win their division; these are wildcard teams which are always 5th and 6th seeds. The 5th seed plays the 4th and the 6th seed plays the 3rd seed in the Wildcard round to reach the Divisional round. In that round, the lowest seed to advance plays the 1st seed and the highest seed plays the 2nd seed.
For example, if the 5th and the 3rd seed win, the 3rd seed plays the 2nd seed and the 5th seed plays the 1st seed. Whoever wins in the Divisional round moves on to the Championship round to play for a spot in the Super Bowl.
Both the Patriots and the Falcons won their Conference Championships, so they will duke it out at the game that starts tomorrow for the right to call themselves World Champions. Tune in to FOX at 6:30 Eastern Time to see who wins.