There has been a lot of discussion lately about the NFL going to an 18 game schedule. Some people are for it and some are against it. Most football fans want it as it would eliminate two of the borderline unwatchable preseason games and add on to the schedule two games that really matter.
photo credit: bradleygee
Currently NFL teams play 16 games during the regular season, but it hasn’t always been this way. Up until 1947, the league fluctuated between ten and twelve games played per season. Some of this had to do with the instability of some teams as well as playing during the seasons affected by World War II. In 1961 though, the NFL changed to a 14 game season and stayed that way until 1978 when the change to the current 16 game format was made.
So, who was the last team to win it all during a 12 game schedule?
That would be the 1960 Philadelphia Eagles who went 10-2 and then defeated the Green Bay Packers 17-13 for the NFL Championship. That Eagles team was coached by Buck Shaw and featured the likes of Norm Van Brocklin, Pete Retzlaff, Chuck Bednarik, Marion Campbell, and Tommy McDonald. They beat a Packers team being coached by Vince Lombardi for just the second season and featured players like Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, Jim Taylor Max McGee, Willie Davis, and Ray Nitschke.
And who was the last team to win the championship during a 14 game schedule?
That would be the 1977 Dallas Cowboys who defeated the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings in the playoffs before going on to beat the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. The Cowboys were coached by Tom Landry and featured players like Roger Staubach, Drew Pearson, Butch Johnson, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Randy White, and a young rookie running back named Tony Dorsett. The Orange Crush Broncos were coached by Red Miller and featured players like Craig Morton, Otis Armstrong, Haven Moses, Rick Upchurch, Lyle Alzado, Steve Foley, Randy Gradishar, and future ESPN broadcaster Tom Jackson.
So, the Eagles and the Broncos go down as the last NFL champions during the final seasons before a change in the amount of regular season games. If they bump up to an 18 game schedule in 2011, that means the team that wins it all this year will join that group.