The NFL Since the 1970 NFL-AFL Merger

Today being Super Bowl Sunday, I was curious to know if older teams had a long-term advantage in the NFL. I put together a table showing the regular season win-loss records for all NFL teams since the 1970 merger between the NFL and the AFL.  While the teams at the top are pretty much what you expect, I did find a few surprises in the results.

Team Division Origins Org Join NFL W L T Pct Winning Seasons Losing Seasons
Pittsburgh Steelers AFC North old NFL 1933 1933 412 266 2 0.607 70.5% 20.5%
Miami Dolphins AFC East AFL exp 1966 1970 400 278 2 0.590 65.9% 20.5%
Dallas Cowboys NFC East 60s exp 1960 1960 397 283 0 0.584 65.9% 25.0%
Denver Broncos AFC West AFL 1960 1970 393 281 6 0.582 59.1% 22.7%
San Francisco 49ers NFC West AAFC 1946 1950 387 289 4 0.572 59.1% 38.6%
Minnesota Vikings NFC North 60s exp 1961 1961 379 298 3 0.560 61.4% 25.0%
New England Patriots AFC East AFL 1960 1970 375 305 0 0.551 63.6% 29.5%
Washington Redskins NFC East old NFL 1932 1932 361 317 2 0.532 54.5% 34.1%
Oakland Raiders AFC West AFL 1960 1970 357 317 6 0.529 50.0% 34.1%
Green Bay Packers NFC North old NFL 1919 1921 354 317 9 0.527 50.0% 36.4%
Baltimore Ravens AFC North AAFC 1946 1950 352 324 4 0.521 50.0% 38.6%
Philadelphia Eagles NFC East old NFL 1933 1933 347 325 8 0.516 47.7% 43.2%
Chicago Bears NFC North old NFL 1919 1920 343 336 1 0.505 38.6% 52.3%
Indianapolis Colts AFC South AAFC 1946 1950 342 336 2 0.504 52.3% 43.2%
New York Giants NFC East old NFL 1925 1925 337 340 3 0.498 45.5% 45.5%
St. Louis Rams NFC West old NFL 1937 1937 336 339 5 0.498 45.5% 50.0%
Seattle Seahawks NFC West exp1 1976 1976 293 303 0 0.492 44.7% 44.7%
Kansas City Chiefs AFC West AFL 1960 1970 328 345 7 0.488 47.7% 45.5%
Tennessee Titans AFC South AFL 1960 1970 329 349 2 0.485 43.2% 43.2%
San Diego Chargers AFC West AFL 1960 1970 322 353 5 0.477 36.4% 45.5%
Carolina Panthers NFC South exp2 1995 1995 144 160 0 0.474 26.3% 57.9%
Jacksonville Jaguars AFC South exp2 1995 1995 144 160 0 0.474 36.8% 52.6%
Buffalo Bills AFC East AFL 1960 1970 311 367 2 0.459 36.4% 56.8%
Cincinnati Bengals AFC North AFL exp 1968 1970 309 370 1 0.455 36.4% 47.7%
Atlanta Falcons NFC South 60s exp 1966 1966 304 371 5 0.451 34.1% 59.1%
New Orleans Saints NFC South 60s exp 1967 1967 305 371 4 0.451 27.3% 56.8%
New York Jets AFC East AFL 1960 1970 304 374 2 0.449 34.1% 45.5%
Arizona Cardinals NFC West old NFL 1898 1920 279 395 6 0.415 25.0% 65.9%
Houston Texans AFC South exp3 2002 2002 79 113 0 0.411 25.0% 58.3%
Detroit Lions NFC North old NFL 1929 1930 275 401 4 0.407 27.3% 63.6%
Tampa Bay Bucs NFC South exp1 1976 1976 233 362 1 0.392 31.6% 65.8%
Cleveland Browns AFC North exp3 1999 1999 77 163 0 0.321 13.3% 86.7%

My general conclusion is that while a few old NFL teams have been very successful in the modern era, how long a team was established before the merger seems to have little relationship its long-term success. The most successful team (in the regular season and in terms of Super Bowl victories) has been the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the earliest NFL teams. Charter NFL franchises the Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals (the oldest team in the NFL), however, are among the consistently worst teams in the league since the merger. The ten best regular season teams in the post-merger era are from the old NFL, the AFL ans the AAFC (the upstart league in the late-1940s). Post-merger expansion teams, by contrast, have struggled in the NFL, although the Seahawks are playing in the Super Bowl today.

And, of course, I have to moan just a little about my team, the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings are among the most successful NFL franchises–in the regular season, anyway–but they just can’t win the big one. Among teams who have have had winning seasons 50 percent or more years, the Vikings are the only team to have not won a Super Bowl. I don’t know how many years I have left, but I hope to see them break that curse in my lifetime.

7 thoughts on “The NFL Since the 1970 NFL-AFL Merger

  1. Also why the nfl always subbornest and won’t list to me and I did tried to tell nfl commissioner Roger Goodell . He been ignore me and all people but God watch over the nfl in one day !

    • The Packers had both Brett Favre & Arron Rodgers and went 1-1 with Favre & 1-0 with Rodgers. I mean they have had a dynasty since 93′ (That ended in 2016) but only one 2 Superbowl combined with two different Legendary QBs. No Excuse. Brady & The Patriots are 6-3 in the Superbowl, and the pats also were good from 94′-99′, making the playoffs all but 95′ & finished 8-8 in 99′, missing the playoffs. They also made the Superbowl (but loss) in 96′, Making there Superbowl record in the last 24 years 6-4. 10 Superbowls to 3. And the Steelers are the same way as the Packers, only 4 Superbowls (2-2) in the last 26 Years (1992-Current Dynasty ) While the Pats have 10 (6-4) in the last 24 years.

  2. Didn’t the city of Cleveland successfully reserve the history of the Browns to carry over with the expansion team? I think I’m remembering correctly that the Ravens were to be treated as a new franchise upon moving to Baltimore.

    • Yes, that’s right, but for this article I was trying to see if being a longstanding team from the old NFL gave teams an advantage after the merger. The latest incarnation of teh Browns were in effect an expansion team (or at least played like one), even though the Ravens were treated as though they were an expansion team in terms of colors, records, etc.

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