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Throughout their history, the National Football League (NFL) and other rival American football leagues have used several different formats to determine their league champions, including a period of inter-league matches that determine a true national champion.

After its founding in 1920, the NFL first determined champions through end-of-season ratings, but switched to a playoff system in 1933. The rival American Football Conference (AAFC) and the American League of Football (AFL) have since merged with the NFL (the only two AAFC teams in existence today joined the NFL in 1950, the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers ), but championship games and records of the AAFC are not included in the NFL record books. The AFL began play in 1960 and, like its rival league, used a playoff system to determine its champion.


 
From 1966-1969 before the merger in 1970, the NFL and AFL agreed to hold a definitive championship game, first called the AFL-NFL World Championship Game and then renamed the Super Bowl after 1968. Afterwards from the merger in 1970, the name of the Super Bowlcontinued as the game to determine the NFL champion. The most important factor in the merger was that all ten AFL teams joined the NFL in 1970 and every AFL game and championship record is included in the NFL record books. The old NFL Championship Game became the NFC Championship Game, while the old AFL Championship Game became the AFC Championship Game. The NFL includes old AFL / NFL championship games in its record books with “new” AFC / NFC championship games. The Green Bay Packers have won the most championships with a total of 13 (9 NFL championships before the merger, four (4) Super Bowl championships). The Packers are also the only team to have won three consecutive championships, having done it twice (1929-1931, 1965-1967). The Chicago Bears have won the second-highest number of overall championships with nine (9) (eight NFL championships, one Super Bowl championship ).

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