This became less prevalent as the league switched to four divisions and just two wildcard clubs per conference in the 2002–03 season. It happened seven times between then until the start of the 2019-20 season: 1988, 1990, 1992, 1996, 1998, 2000, and 2002.
It is expected that it will happen again this season when the Oakland Raiders move to Las Vegas. The league approved the deal on September 18, 2017. The new team will be called the Mandalay Bay Raiders and will play their home games at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. The team will begin playing in the 2018 season after being granted a conditional license by the NFL. The condition was that they must win their first two games before the end of October. If they fail to do so, the season will be forfeited.
The league also approved the relocation of the St. Louis Rams to Los Angeles effective with the 2020 season. The new franchise will be called the LA Rams and will play their home games at Hollywood Park Stadium in Inglewood.
There are currently 32 teams in the NFL.
This has happened eight times since the switch to four divisions per conference in the 2002 NFL season: twice in the NFC East, three times in the AFC North, and once in each of the other three divisions. The Eagles, Steelers, and Ravens have played each other three times, while the Giants and Cowboys have faced off twice.
The most recent meeting was last year's Divisional Round between the Ravens and Steelers. Both teams are now going head-to-head again this year in the Conference Championships.
The first episode of the new league season will be shown live on Sky Sports 1 at 7pm on Thursday 11 August. The remaining two games will be shown live on Sky Sports 2.
There have been seven previous meetings between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. They all took place within the NFC Eastern Division (1996-2002).
The Dallas Cowboys aren't part of any division but they do play some of their regular season games against other division rivals - the New York Giants and Washington Redskins. This is because both Dallas and Washington are located in the National Football League's Northeastern United States territory. The Cowboys share CBS television with the Giants while the Redskins share NBC with the Redskins.
They all meet twice per season for a total of four games.
Each conference had three divisions (East, Central, and West) from 1970 to 2002. The division winners qualified for the playoffs, as did a fourth "wild card" club based on the best non-division winner. Beginning with the 2003 season, the current system of four regional teams in the NFC and AFC was adopted by which team has the better record would be declared the number one seed and receive a first-round bye. In addition, the two remaining wild cards will now face off in the Sunday Night Football game beginning next season.
In 1970 there were 12 teams in the NFL and each team played all other teams twice during the regular season. The league office split the twelve teams into three east coast conferences and three west coast conferences to avoid having every team play every other team. This plan worked well until 1994 when the Chicago Bears moved to Chicago after which no team resided in both a eastern and western conference. To solve this problem, two new conferences were formed: the National Football Conference East and the National Football Conference West. These names were chosen to mimic the NBA's Western and Eastern Conferences but there was no intention to have these groups compete against each other for anything other than pride of place. Each group had eight teams with another club qualifying by virtue of winning its conference.
The 32-team league is divided into two conferences: the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC). Each conference's 16 teams are divided into four divisions: East, North, South, and West. Each division comprises four teams. At the end of each season, one team is declared the champion of its division. The winner of the overall championship game is determined by a single tiebreaker procedure: greatest number of wins against loss percentage.
Additionally, before the start of each season, several high profile players choose which division they will play in. These players are referred to as "preferred walk-ons" because they get to pick their own division when they come out of retirement or are added to the roster after being released by another team. There is no rule that forces them to play on the same side of the field as their preferred walk-on status indicates they should go. For example, if a player chooses to be a left tackle but is drafted by the team in the second round and signed to a contract worth $750,000 per year, he could decide that he doesn't want to play left tackle and ask to be moved to right tackle instead. He would then be allowed to walk onto the field at right tackle during warm-ups without any penalties since his preferred walk-on status remains the same.
Finally, the league splits itself into two separate competitions - the NFL and the NFL Europe League.