NFC Championship Game

NFC Championship Game

NFC Championship logo
First played 1971
Trophy George Halas

Recent and upcoming games
2015 season
Bank of America Stadium
January 24, 2016
Arizona Cardinals 15, Carolina Panthers 49

The National Football Conference (NFC) Championship Game (also unofficially referred to as the NFC Title Game) is one of the two semi-final playoff games of the National Football League (NFL), the largest professional American football league in the United States. The game is played on the penultimate Sunday in January and determines the champion of the National Football Conference (NFC). The winner then advances to face the winner of the American Football Conference (AFC) Championship Game in the Super Bowl.

The game was established as part of the 1970 merger between the NFL and the American Football League (AFL), with the merged league realigning into two conferences. Since 1984, each winner of the NFC Championship Game has also received the George Halas Trophy, named after the founder and longtime owner of the NFL's Chicago Bears.


The first NFC Championship Game was played following the 1970 regular season after the merger between the NFL and the American Football League. The game is considered the successor to the original NFL Championship, and its game results are listed with that of its predecessor in the annual NFL Record and Fact Book.[1] Since the pre-merger NFL consisted of six more teams than the AFL, a realignment was done as part of the merger to create two conferences with an equal number of teams: The NFL's Baltimore Colts, the Cleveland Browns, and the Pittsburgh Steelers joined the ten former AFL teams to form the AFC; while the remaining 13 pre-merger NFL clubs formed the NFC.

Every NFC team has played in an NFC Championship at least once. The Seattle Seahawks, who have been members in both the AFC and the NFC, hold the distinction of appearing in both conference title games. Only the Detroit Lions have yet to win an NFC Championship Game.

For the first time in the history of either Championship game, the NFC saw 10 different winners in as many years between 2001 and 2010. The trend ended when the New York Giants won the 2011 NFC Championship game.

Playoff structure

NFC Championship Game logo, 2008–2010 (Used with old shield since 2005)
For more details on this topic, see National Football League playoffs.

At the end of each regular season, a series of playoff games involving the top six teams in the NFC are conducted. In the current (since 2002–03 season) NFL playoff structure, this consists of the four division champions and two wild card teams (those clubs that possess the two best won-loss records after the regular season yet fail to win their division). The two teams remaining following the Wild Card round (first round) and the divisional round (second round) play in the NFC Championship game.

Initially, the site of the game was determined on a rotating basis. Since the 1975–76 season, the site of the NFC Championship has been based on playoff seeding based on the regular season won-loss record, with the highest surviving seed hosting the game. A wild card team can only host the game if both participants are wild cards, in which case the fifth seed would host the sixth seed. Such an instance has never occurred in the NFL.

George Halas Trophy

Beginning with 1984-85 season, the winner of the NFC Championship Game has received the George Halas Trophy, named after the longtime owner and coach of the Chicago Bears, a charter member of the NFL. The original design consisted of a wooden base with a sculpted NFC logo in the front and a sculpture of various football players in the back.

It, and the Lamar Hunt Trophy that is awarded to the AFC Champion, were redesigned for the 2010–11 NFL playoffs by Tiffany & Co. at the request of the NFL in an attempt to make both awards more significant.[2] The trophies are now a new, silver design with the outline of a hollow football positioned on a small base to more closely resemble the Vince Lombardi Trophy, awarded to the winner of the Super Bowl.[3]

The George Halas Trophy should not be confused with the Newspaper Enterprise Association's George S. Halas Trophy which was awarded to the NFL's defensive player of the year from 1966 to 1996 or the Pro Football Writers Association's George S. Halas Courage Award.

List of NFC Championship Games

Numbers in parentheses in the winning team column are NFC Championships won by that team. Bold indicates team won Super Bowl that year.
Playoff Winning team Score Losing team Score Location Stadium
1970–71 Dallas Cowboys (1) 17 San Francisco 49ers 10 San Francisco Kezar Stadium[4]
1971–72 Dallas Cowboys (2) 14 San Francisco 49ers 3 Irving, Texas Texas Stadium
1972–73 Washington Redskins (1) 26 Dallas Cowboys 3 Washington, D.C. RFK Stadium[5]
1973–74 Minnesota Vikings (1) 27 Dallas Cowboys 10 Irving, Texas (2) Texas Stadium (2)
1974–75 Minnesota Vikings (2) 14 Los Angeles Rams 10 Bloomington, Minnesota Metropolitan Stadium
1975–76 Dallas Cowboys (3) 37 Los Angeles Rams 7 Los Angeles Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum[6]
1976–77 Minnesota Vikings (3) 24 Los Angeles Rams 13 Bloomington, Minnesota (2) Metropolitan Stadium (2)
1977–78 Dallas Cowboys (4) 23 Minnesota Vikings 6 Irving, Texas (3) Texas Stadium (3)
1978–79 Dallas Cowboys (5) 28 Los Angeles Rams 0 Los Angeles (2) Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (2)
1979–80 Los Angeles Rams (1) 9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0 Tampa, Florida Tampa Stadium
1980–81 Philadelphia Eagles (1) 20 Dallas Cowboys 7 Philadelphia Veterans Stadium
1981–82 San Francisco 49ers (1) 28 Dallas Cowboys 27 San Francisco (2) Candlestick Park
1982–83 [7] Washington Redskins (2) 31 Dallas Cowboys 17 Washington, D.C. (2) RFK Stadium (2)
1983–84 Washington Redskins (3) 24 San Francisco 49ers 21 Washington, D.C. (3) RFK Stadium (3)
1984–85 San Francisco 49ers (2) 23 Chicago Bears 0 San Francisco (3) Candlestick Park (2)
1985–86 Chicago Bears (1) 24 Los Angeles Rams 0 Chicago Soldier Field
1986–87 New York Giants (1) 17 Washington Redskins 0 East Rutherford, New Jersey Giants Stadium
1987–88 Washington Redskins (4) 17 Minnesota Vikings 10 Washington, D.C. (4) RFK Stadium (4)
1988–89 San Francisco 49ers (3) 28 Chicago Bears 3 Chicago (2) Soldier Field (2)
1989–90 San Francisco 49ers (4) 30 Los Angeles Rams 3 San Francisco (4) Candlestick Park (3)
1990–91 New York Giants (2) 15 San Francisco 49ers 13 San Francisco (5) Candlestick Park (4)
1991–92 Washington Redskins (5) 41 Detroit Lions 10 Washington, D.C. (5) RFK Stadium (5)
1992–93 Dallas Cowboys (6) 30 San Francisco 49ers 20 San Francisco (6) Candlestick Park (5)
1993–94 Dallas Cowboys (7) 38 San Francisco 49ers 21 Irving, Texas (4) Texas Stadium (4)
1994–95 San Francisco 49ers (5) 38 Dallas Cowboys 28 San Francisco (7) Candlestick Park (6)
1995–96 Dallas Cowboys (8) 38 Green Bay Packers 27 Irving, Texas (5) Texas Stadium (5)
1996–97 Green Bay Packers (1) 30 Carolina Panthers 13 Green Bay, Wisconsin Lambeau Field
1997–98 Green Bay Packers (2) 23 San Francisco 49ers 10 San Francisco (8) 3Com Park (7)
1998–99 Atlanta Falcons (1) 30a[] Minnesota Vikings 27 Minneapolis, Minnesota (3) Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
1999–00 St. Louis Rams (2) 11 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6 St. Louis Trans World Dome
2000–01 New York Giants (3) 41 Minnesota Vikings 0 East Rutherford, New Jersey (2) Giants Stadium (2)
2001–02 St. Louis Rams (3) 29 Philadelphia Eagles 24 St. Louis (2) Edward Jones Dome (2)
2002–03 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1) 27 Philadelphia Eagles 10 Philadelphia (2) Veterans Stadium (2)
2003–04 Carolina Panthers (1) 14 Philadelphia Eagles 3 Philadelphia (3) Lincoln Financial Field
2004–05 Philadelphia Eagles (2) 27 Atlanta Falcons 10 Philadelphia (4) Lincoln Financial Field (2)
2005–06 Seattle Seahawks (1) 34 Carolina Panthers 14 Seattle Qwest Field
2006–07 Chicago Bears (2) 39 New Orleans Saints 14 Chicago (3) Soldier Field (3)
2007–08 New York Giants (4) 23a[] Green Bay Packers 20 Green Bay, Wisconsin (2) Lambeau Field (2)
2008–09 Arizona Cardinals (1) 32 Philadelphia Eagles 25 Glendale, Arizona University of Phoenix Stadium
2009–10 New Orleans Saints (1) 31a[] Minnesota Vikings 28 New Orleans Louisiana Superdome
2010–11 Green Bay Packers (3) 21 Chicago Bears 14 Chicago (4) Soldier Field (4)
2011–12 New York Giants (5) 20a[] San Francisco 49ers 17 San Francisco, California (9) Candlestick Park (8)
2012–13 San Francisco 49ers (6) 28 Atlanta Falcons 24 Atlanta Georgia Dome
2013–14 Seattle Seahawks (2) 23 San Francisco 49ers 17 Seattle (2) CenturyLink Field (2)
2014–15 Seattle Seahawks (3) 28a[] Green Bay Packers 22 Seattle (3) CenturyLink Field (3)
2015–16 Carolina Panthers (2) 49 Arizona Cardinals 15 Charlotte, North Carolina Bank of America Stadium

^ a: Overtime

NFC Championship Game appearances 1970–present

NumTeamWLPCTPFPALast appearanceLast championshipHOME gamesHome winsHome lossesHome Win Pct.ROAD gamesRoad winsRoad lossesRoad Win Pct.
15San Francisco 49ers 69.40030728920132012945.444624.333
14Dallas Cowboys86.57131726419951995541.800945.444
9Los Angeles/
St. Louis Rams
8Minnesota Vikings35.37513617520091976321.667514.200
6Washington Redskins51.83313978199119915501.000101.000
6Philadelphia Eagles24.33310911920082004422.500202.000
6Green Bay Packers33.50014312620142010211.500422.500
5New York Giants501.00011650201120112201.0003301.000
5Chicago Bears23.400808620102006422.500101.000
4Carolina Panthers22.5009082201520151101.000312.333
3Seattle Seahawksb[]301.0008553201420143301.000000—–
3Atlanta Falcons12.333648220121998101.000211.500
3Tampa Bay Buccaneers12.333333020022002101.000211.500
2New Orleans Saints11.5004567200920091101.000101.000
2Arizona Cardinals 11.5004774201520081101.000101.000
1Detroit Lions01.00010411991N/A000—–101.000

^ b: The Seahawks were members of the NFC in 1976 and then members of the AFC from 1977–2001, before rejoining the NFC in 2002. Including their only appearance in the AFC Championship Game (0–1), they hold a combined 3–1 record between both Conference Championship Games.

^ c: Includes appearances during their first tenure in Los Angeles (the 1970 merger to 1994), where they went 1–6 in NFC Championship Games; and their period as the St. Louis Rams (1995–2015), where they went 2–0 in NFC Championship Games.

NFC Championship Game records

NFC Championship Game logo, 2001–2005

*Tied for Conference Championship record

^ **: Conference Championship record
^ ***: Lions most recently won the NFL Championship in 1957 – pre–Super Bowl Era

TV Ratings


  1. "Playoff Games". NFL Record and Fact Book 2009. Time, Inc. Home Entertainment. ISBN 978-1-60320-809-3.
  2. "NFC's Halas trophy has new look". Chicago Sun-Times.
  3. Bell, Jarrett (January 25, 2011). "NFL Replay: Gritty Steelers aren't pretty, but they are Super". USA Today.
  4. Last NFL Game in Kezar Stadium.
  5. These 1972 Dallas Cowboys were the first ever NFC wild card franchise to advance to the Conference championship game.
  6. The 1975 Dallas Cowboys were the first ever wild card franchise to advance to the Super Bowl.
  7. played on Saturday
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