American Football League Playoffs

American Football League Playoffs

From 1960 to 1968, the American Football League determined its champion via a single playoff game between the winners of its two divisions (although ties in the standings during the 1963 and 1968 seasons necessitated a divisional playoff game).

In 1969, the final year of the independent AFL, a four-team playoff was held, with the second-place teams in each division playing the winner of the other division in what were called the "Interdivisional" playoffs. These playoffs were not, and are not considered to have been, "wildcard" playoffs since the two best non-division winners did not automatically qualify. (Had the 1969 playoffs been true wildcard playoffs, the Western Division's third-place team, San Diego, would have qualified while the Eastern Division's second-place team, Houston, would not have.) The 1969 playoffs were only the second time a major professional football league allowed teams other than the first place teams to compete in post-season playoffs (the other instance being the All-America Football Conference's 1949 four-team playoff).

Prior to the advent of the Super Bowl for the 1966 season, the AFL went to great lengths to avoid scheduling its playoffs head-to-head with the NFL. In 1960, the NFL's game was held on Monday, December 26; the AFL had that week off, and played its title contest on Sunday, January 1st. In 1961 and 1962, the AFL played its game during the off-week between the end of the NFL's regular season and its title game (thus resulting in the AFL holding championship games on December 24, 1961 and December 23, 1962, a week before the NFL's games of December 31, 1961 and December 30, 1962). In 1963, the AFL held its Eastern Division tiebreaker playoff on Saturday, December 28, 1963, thereby avoiding the Sunday, December 29, 1963 NFL playoff (the AFL then held its 1963 Championship Game a week later). In 1964, pro football had a championship weekend, with the AFL's title game held on Saturday, December 26, 1964 and the NFL's championship contest being held on Sunday, December 27, 1964. For 1965, the AFL tried to return to the practice of playing its game on a Sunday during the off-week between the NFL playoff, slating its championship contest for December 26, 1965 while the NFL's game wasn't held until January 2, 1966; unfortunately, the Colts and Packers required a Western Conference tiebreaker on the December 26, 1965 date --- and since that game went overtime, the TV audience for the Bills-Chargers game in San Diego was diminished considerably. Even in 1966, the AFL originally scheduled its championship game for the off-week, planning to hold its playoff on Monday, December 26, 1966, six days before the NFL's scheduled playoff of January 1, 1967.

Negotiations prior to the first Super Bowl, during early December 1966, resulted in the two leagues agreeing to have championship doubleheaders for the next four years, with each league holding its title game on the same day but at a different time that day. Thus the final four AFL playoffs were held on the same day as the NFL championship game was (January 1, 1967; December 31, 1967; December 29, 1968; and January 4, 1970).

The Pro Football Hall of Fame and the National Football League include AFL playoffs in their statistics for the NFL playoffs.

Read more about American Football League Playoffs:  1960 Championship, 1961 Championship, 1962 Championship, 1963 Playoffs, 1964 Championship, 1965 Championship, 1966 Championship, 1967 Championship, 1968 Playoffs, AFL Championship Game Appearances 1960-69, See Also

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