Following its founding in 1920, the NFL first determined champions through end-of-season standings, but switched to a playoff system in 1933. The rival All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and American Football League (AFL) have since merged with the NFL (the only two AAFC teams that currently exist joined the NFL in 1950—the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers), but AAFC championship games and records are not included in NFL record books. The AFL began play in 1960 and, like its rival league, used a playoff system to determine its champion.
1920–1965: NFL and AFL Championship Game Winners
1965 - AFL: Buffalo Bills
1965 - NFL: Green Bay Packers
1964 - AFL: Buffalo Bills
1964 - NFL: Cleveland Browns
1963 - AFL: San Diego Chargers
1963 - NFL: Chicago Bears
1962 - AFL: Dallas Texans
1962 - NFL: Green Bay Packers
1961 - AFL: Houston Oilers
1961 - NFL: Green Bay Packers
1960 - AFL: Houston Oilers
1960 - NFL: Philadelphia Eagles
1959 - Baltimore Colts
1958 - Baltimore Colts
1957 - Detroit Lions
1956 - New York Giants
1955 - Cleveland Browns
1954 - Cleveland Browns
1953 - Detroit Lions
1952 - Detroit Lions
1951 - Los Angeles Rams
1950 - Cleveland Browns
1949 - Philadelphia Eagles
1948 - Philadelphia Eagles
1947 - Chicago Cardinals
1946 - Chicago Bears
1945 - Cleveland Rams
1944 - Green Bay Packers
1943 - Chicago Bears
1942 - Washington Redskins
1941 - Chicago Bears
1940 - Chicago Bears
1939 - Green Bay Packers
1938 - New York Giants
1937 - Washington Redskins
1936 - Green Bay Packers
1935 - Detroit Lions
1934 - New York Giants
1933 - Chicago Bears
1932 - Chicago Bears
1931 - Green Bay Packers
1930 - Green Bay Packers
1929 - Green Bay Packers
1928 - Providence Steam Roller
1927 - New York Giants
1926 - Frankford Yellow Jackets
1925 - Chicago Cardinals
1924 - Cleveland Bulldogs
1923 - Canton Bulldogs
1922 - Canton Bulldogs
1921 - Chicago Staleys
1920 - Akron Pros
1946-1949 AAFC (All-American Football Conference) Championship Winners
1949 - Cleveland Browns
1948 - Cleveland Browns
1947 - Cleveland Browns
1946 - Cleveland Browns
The 1951 National Football League Championship Game was the 19th NFL championship game, played December 23 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California.
It was a rematch of the previous year's game in Cleveland, with the Los Angeles Rams (8–4) of the National Conference meeting the defending league champion Cleveland Browns (11–1) of the American Conference. In the league championship game for the third straight year, the Rams were seeking their first NFL title since moving to California in early 1946 (the Cleveland Rams won the 1945 title, then left a month later). The Browns were favored to win this title game on the road by six points.
This was the first NFL championship game to be televised coast-to-coast, and was blacked out by the league in the southern California area. The DuMont Network purchased the championship game TV rights from the NFL in May for five years (1951–55) for $475,000.
The home underdog Rams upset the Browns 24–17 for their second NFL championship before a then-record crowd for the title game of 59,475. The "World Championship" banner awarded to the Rams was given as a gift to Tom Bergin after the game in gratitude for hosting the post-game dinner. As of 2016 it still hangs in the Tom Bergin's Irish pub in Los Angeles, the only one in private ownership. This was also the first time that the Browns under Paul Brown did not finish the season with a championship after 4 wins in the AAFC and a championship in their first NFL season in 1950.
As of 2018, this remains the Rams' only NFL championship as a California team. The Rams won their first NFL championship during their final season in Cleveland, and also won a Super Bowl during their time in St. Louis.
The Rams were the first to score, with a 1-yard run by fullback Dick Hoerner in the second quarter. The Browns answered back with an NFL Championship record 52-yard field goal by Lou Groza. They later took the lead with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Otto Graham to Dub Jones, and the Browns led at halftime, 10–7.
In the third quarter, Ram Larry Brink landed a hard tackle on Graham, causing him to fumble the ball, which Andy Robustelli picked up on the Cleveland 24 and returned it to the two-yard-line. On third down from the one, "Deacon" Dan Towler ran the ball in for a touchdown to give the Rams a 14–10 lead.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Rams increased their lead with a 17-yard field goal by Bob Waterfield. The Browns answered back with an 8-play, 70-yard drive that ended with a 5-yard touchdown run by Ken Carpenter to tie the game at 17–17. Twenty-five seconds later late in the fourth quarter, Tom Fears beat defenders Cliff Lewis and Tommy James and received a Norm Van Brocklin pass at midfield and raced to the end zone for a 73-yard touchdown. It secured a Rams 24–17 win and the 1951 NFL title, their sole league championship in 49 years in southern California.
The next NFL title for the franchise came 48 years later, when the St. Louis Rams won Super Bowl XXXIV in January 2000.
Sunday, December 23, 1951
Kickoff: 1:05 p.m. PST
LA – TD, Dick Hoerner 1 run (Bob Waterfield kick), 7–0 LA
CLE – FG, Lou Groza 52, 7–3 LA
CLE – TD, Dub Jones 17 pass from Otto Graham (Groza kick), 10–7 CLE
LA – TD, Dan Towler 1 run (Waterfield kick), 14–10 LA
LA – FG, Waterfield 17, 17–10 LA
CLE – TD, Ken Carpenter 5 run (Groza kick), 17–17 tie
LA – TD, Tom Fears 73 pass from Norm Van Brocklin (Waterfield kick), 24–17 LA
The 1954 National Football League championship game was the 22nd annual championship game, held on December 26 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio.
The Detroit Lions (9–2–1) of the Western Conference met the Cleveland Browns (9–3) of the Eastern Conference in the NFL title game for the third consecutive year. The Lions won the previous two: 17–7 at Cleveland in 1952 and 17–16 at home in Briggs Stadium in 1953. They were attempting to become the first team to win three consecutive league titles in the championship game era (since 1933). The Green Bay Packers won three consecutive (1929, 1930, 1931) when the title was determined by the regular season final standings.
The Lions were led by quarterback Bobby Layne, running back Doak Walker, and head coach Buddy Parker. The Browns were led by head coach Paul Brown and quarterback Otto Graham. The Lions had won the regular season meeting 14–10 the week before on December 19, also at Cleveland, with a late touchdown. Detroit was a slight favorite (2½ to 3 points) to three-peat as champions.
The underdog Browns won the title at home in a rout, 56–10; placekicker Lou Groza made eight extra points, a new title game record, among many.
The Lions struck first with a 36-yard field goal by Walker. Six plays after the next kickoff, the Browns took the lead on Graham's 36-yard scoring pass to Ray Renfro, and never relinquished the lead as the Lions' run game was stopped effectively by the Browns' defense. The lead at halftime was 35–10, and the Lions did not score again.
Detroit quarterback Layne (18 for 42, passing for 177 yards) was intercepted six times, with Len Ford and Kenny Konz pulling in two each. The Browns also recovered three Detroit fumbles, with two of the recoveries leading to scores. Tom Dublinski replaced Layne as the Lion quarterback after the score reached 49–10 late in the third quarter.
Sunday, December 26, 1954
Kickoff: 2 p.m. EST
DET – FG Doak Walker, 36 yds, 3–0 DET
CLE – Ray Renfro 35-yard pass from Otto Graham (Lou Groza kick), 7–3 CLE
CLE – Pete Brewster 8-yard pass from Graham (Groza kick), 14–3 CLE
CLE – Graham 1-yard run (Groza kick), 21–3 CLE
DET – Bill Bowman 5-yard run (Walker kick), 21–10 CLE
CLE – Graham 5-yard run (Groza kick), 28–10 CLE
CLE – Renfro 31-yard pass from Graham (Groza kick), 35–10 CLE
CLE – Graham 1-yard run (Groza kick), 42–10 CLE
CLE – Curly Morrison 12-yard run (Groza kick), 49–10 CLE
CLE – Chet Hanulak 12-yard run (Groza kick), 56–10 CLE
The gross receipts for the game, including over $101,000 for radio and television rights, were just over US$289,000. Each player on the winning Browns team received $2,478, while Lions players made $1,585 each.
The 1957 National Football League championship game was the 25th annual championship game, held on December 29 at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, Michigan.
The Detroit Lions (8–4), winners of the Western Conference, hosted the Cleveland Browns (9–2–1), champions of the Eastern Conference. Detroit had won the regular season game 20–7 three weeks earlier on December 8, also at Briggs Stadium, but lost quarterback Bobby Layne with a broken right ankle late in the first half. Reserve quarterback Tobin Rote, a starter the previous year with Green Bay, filled in for Layne and won that game with Cleveland, the next week at Chicago, and the tiebreaker playoff game at San Francisco.
It was the fourth pairing of the two teams in the championship game; they met previously in 1952, 1953, and 1954. The Browns were favored by three points, but the home underdog Lions scored two touchdowns in each quarter and won in a rout, 59–14.
Until 2006, this was the last time that major professional teams from Michigan and Ohio met in a postseason series or game. As of 2018, this was the last playoff game played in the city of Detroit other than Super Bowl XL in 2006. The Lions other two home playoff games since 1957 (1991 and 1993) were played at the Pontiac Silverdome in nearby Pontiac, Michigan.
Players in the Hall of Fame
Twelve individuals (including coaches and administration) who were involved in this game are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Another Lions Hall-of-Famer, QB Bobby Layne, was injured and did not play in the game.
FB John Henry Johnson
C Frank Gatski
LT Lou Creekmur
LB Joe Schmidt
DB Jack Christiansen
DB Yale Lary
QB Bobby Layne
FB Jim Brown
LT/K Lou Groza
RT Mike McCormack
RDE Len Ford
Head Coach/General Manager Paul Brown
The home underdog Lions were without starting quarterback Layne due to a broken ankle three weeks earlier against the Browns. Backup quarterback Tobin Rote filled in admirably following Layne's injury, winning every game, including a 24-point rally in the tiebreaker playoff over the 49ers the previous week. In his eighth season, Rote threw four touchdown passes in the title game, completing 12 of 19 passes for 280 yards, and also ran for a touchdown. Browns quarterbacks Tommy O'Connell and Milt Plum, on the other hand hit on a combined total of 9 of 22 passes for 112 yards. Taking full advantage of a pass interception and a fumble, Detroit ran up a 17–0 lead in the first quarter. Rookie running back Jim Brown gave the Cleveland rooters some hope with a 29-yard touchdown run at the start of the second period.
Things went from bad to worse for the Browns, hampered by injuries to quarterbacks O'Connell and Plum. The Lions romped for 14 points in each of the last three quarters, and won by 45 points, 59–14.
Sunday, December 29, 1957
Kickoff: 2:00 p.m. EST
DET – FG Jim Martin, 31 yards, 3–0 DET
DET – Tobin Rote 1-yard run (Martin kick), 10–0 DET
DET – Gene Gedman 1-yard run (Martin kick), 17–0 DET
CLE – Jim Brown 29-yard run (Lou Groza kick), 17–7 DET
DET – Steve Junker 26-yard pass from Rote (Martin kick), 24–7 DET
DET – Terry Barr 19-yard interception (Martin kick), 31–7 DET
CLE – Lew Carpenter 5-yard run (Groza kick), 31–14 DET
DET – Jim Doran 78-yard pass from Rote (Martin kick), 38–14 DET
DET – Junker 23-yard pass from Rote (Martin kick), 45–14 DET
DET – Dave Middleton 32-yard pass from Rote (Martin kick), 52–14 DET
DET – Howard Cassady 17-yard pass from Jerry Reichow (Martin kick), 59–14 DET
Referee: Ron Gibbs
Umpire: Joe Connell
Head Linesman: Dan Tehan
Back Judge: Cleo Diehl
Field Judge: Don Looney
Alternate: George Rennix
Alternate: James Beiersdorfer
Alternate: Charlie Berry
Alternate: Chuck Sweeney 
The NFL had five game officials in 1957; the line judge was added in 1965 and the side judge in 1978.
The 1958 National Football League Championship Game was the 26th NFL championship game, played on December 28 at Yankee Stadium in New York City. It was the first NFL playoff game to go into sudden death overtime. The final score was Baltimore Colts 23, New York Giants 17, and the game has since become widely known as "The Greatest Game Ever Played".
It marked the beginning of the NFL's popularity surge, and eventual rise to the top of the United States sports market. A major reason was that the game was televised across the nation by NBC. Baltimore receiver Raymond Berry recorded 12 receptions for 178 yards and a touchdown. His 12 receptions set a championship record that stood for 55 years.
Both teams finished the 1958 season with a 9–3 record. For the Giants, it was their fifth consecutive winning season, a stretch that included an NFL Championship in 1956. In contrast, 1958 was only the second winning season in Colts' history since the team's founding in 1953.
Baltimore started off the season winning their first six games before losing to New York, 24–21, in week 7 of the regular season. However, Colts starting quarterback Johnny Unitas was injured at the time and did not play in the game. Three weeks later, Unitas returned to lead the Colts to a critical come-from-behind win against Hall of Fame quarterback Y. A. Tittle and his San Francisco 49ers. Trailing 27–7 at halftime, Baltimore stormed back with four unanswered touchdowns to win, 35–27, clinching the Western Conference championship. This allowed them to rest their starters for the final two games of the regular season, both on the road in California.
New York started the season 2–2, then won seven of their last eight games, including a critical 19–17 win over the defending champion Detroit Lions on December 7. In that game, New York fell behind late when the offense lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown. Later on, however, the Giants stopped Detroit punter Yale Lary on a fake punt attempt and drove for the go-ahead score. They then secured the win by blocking a Lions field goal attempt as time expired in the game. In the final game of the regular season, the Giants defeated the Cleveland Browns with Pat Summerall's game-winning 49-yard field goal on the final play (the longest field goal made in the entire season among all NFL kickers). The win enabled them to tie the Browns for the conference title, and though the Giants had won both games against Cleveland in the regular season, the rules of the time required a tiebreaker playoff game on December 21. At Yankee Stadium in 20 °F (−7 °C) weather, the Giants defeated the Browns for a third time in a shut out, building a 10–0 lead at the half, which was the final score.
After clinching their conference title on November 30, the Colts rested key players in the final two games, road losses in California. Baltimore had a week off and entered the title game as 3½ point favorites to gain their first league title.
New York Giants
OL Rosey Brown
HB Frank Gifford
LB Sam Huff
WR Don Maynard
DE Andy Robustelli
DB Emlen Tunnell
Offensive Coordinator Vince Lombardi
Defensive Coordinator Tom Landry
Owner Tim Mara
Vice President / Secretary Wellington Mara
WR Raymond Berry
DL Art Donovan
DL Gino Marchetti
HB Lenny Moore
OL Jim Parker
QB Johnny Unitas
Head Coach Weeb Ewbank
An estimated 45 million people watched the game on television in the United States. This audience could have been even greater except that because of NFL restrictions, the game was blacked out in the greater New York City area. Still, the impact from this game is far reaching. A year later, Texas billionaire Lamar Hunt formed the American Football League, which began play with eight teams in the 1960 season. The growth of the popularity of the sport, through franchise expansion, the eventual merger with the AFL, and popularity on television, is commonly credited to this game, making it a turning point in the history of football.
The game is, to date, one of only two NFL championship games–the other being Super Bowl LI—ever decided in overtime. The drive by Baltimore at the end of regulation, with Unitas leading the team quickly down the field to set up the game-tying field goal, is often cited as the first instance of a "two-minute drill", for which Unitas became famous.
The 1959 National Football League Championship Game was the 27th NFL championship game, played on December 27 at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland.
It was a rematch of the 1958 championship game that went into overtime. The defending champion Baltimore Colts (9–3) again won the Western Conference, while the New York Giants (10–2) repeated as Eastern Conference champions. The Colts were favored to repeat as champions by 3½ points.
This game also went down to the last quarter, but the Colts did not need any heroics in overtime. Trailing 9-7 at the start of the fourth quarter, Baltimore scored 24 straight points and won, 31–16.
This was the only NFL championship game played in Baltimore.
Sunday, December 27, 1959
Kickoff: 2:05 p.m. EST
BAL – Lenny Moore 60 yard pass from Johnny Unitas (Steve Myhra kick), BAL 7–0
NYG – FG Pat Summerall 23, BAL 7–3
NYG – FG Summerall 37, BAL 7–6
NYG – FG Summerall 22, NYG 9–7
BAL – Unitas 4 yard run (Myhra kick), BAL 14–9
BAL – Jerry Richardson 12 yard pass from Unitas (Myhra kick), BAL 21–9
BAL – Johnny Sample 42 yard interception return (Myhra kick), BAL 28–9
BAL – FG Myhra 25, BAL 31–9
NYG – Bob Schnelker 32 yard pass from Charlie Conerly (Summerall kick), BAL 31–16
Referee: Ron Gibbs
Umpire: Lou Palazzi
Head Linesman: Charlie Berry
Back Judge: Cleo Diehl
Field Judge: Chuck Sweeney 
Alternate: William Downes
Alternate: Joe Connell
Alternate: John Highberger
Alternate: Stan Jaworowski
Alternate: Herm Rohrig 
The NFL had five game officials in 1959; the line judge was added in 1965 and the side judge in 1978.
The gross receipts for the game, including radio and television rights, were just over $666,000, slightly below the previous year. Each player on the winning Colts team received $4,674, while Giants players made $3,083 each.
The 1960 National Football League championship game was the 28th NFL title game. The game was played on Monday, December 26, at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
In addition to the landmark 1958 championship game, in which the Baltimore Colts defeated the New York Giants in sudden death overtime, the 1960 game has also been called a key event in football history. The game marked the lone playoff defeat for Packers coach Vince Lombardi before his Packers team established a dynasty that won five NFL championships, including the first two Super Bowls, in a span of seven seasons. The victory was the third NFL title for the Philadelphia Eagles, and their final championship until the team won Super Bowl LII in 2018, ending a 57-season championship drought.
The American Football League was in its first season and held its inaugural title game less than a week later. First-year NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle convinced owners to move the league's headquarters from Philadelphia to New York City, and with Congressional passage of the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961 received an antitrust exemption that allowed the league to negotiate a common broadcasting network representing all of its teams, helping cement football's ascendancy as a national sport.
This was the second and last NFL championship game played in Philadelphia, and the only one at Franklin Field. A dozen years earlier, the 1948 title game was held in the snow at Shibe Park and was also an Eagles' victory.
Ticket prices for the game were ten and eight dollars,
The game matched the leagues's conference champions, Philadelphia Eagles (10–2) of the East and Green Bay Packers (8–4) of the West. The Eagles were making their first appearance in a championship game since 1949, and the Packers their first since 1944. Two years earlier, both teams had finished last in their respective conferences.
Due to the lack of lights at Franklin Field, the kickoff time was moved up to 12 p.m. (noon) EST. The league was concerned about the possibility of sudden death overtime, as had occurred in 1958. The game was played on a Monday, similar to 1955, as the NFL did not want to play on Christmas.
Led by future hall of fame head coach Vince Lombardi, Green Bay won the Western Conference, a game ahead of the Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers. The two-time defending champion Baltimore Colts, led by quarterback Johnny Unitas, were 6–2 on November 13, but lost their last four and stumbled into fourth place with a .500 record. (Baltimore did not win another division/conference title until 1964.) Green Bay had won six league championships before, most recently in 1944, but the intervening years had been lean.
At the time, Lombardi was better known as an assistant coach (offense) for the New York Giants. Hired by the Packers in January 1959, he led them to a 7–5 record in his first season as a head coach, a vast improvement over the 1958 season (1–10–1), their worst ever. On the field, the Packers were led by quarterback Bart Starr, another future hall of famer, who was then lightly regarded, having thrown eight interceptions to go with his four touchdown passes in the 1960 season. Starr had shared playing time with Lamar McHan, who won all four games he started, while Starr was an even 4–4. In his four previous seasons in the league, Starr had more interceptions than touchdowns in each season and he finished the 1960 season with 1,358 passing yards, completing 98 of 172 passes for a completion percentage of 57.0. Other names that would shine during the dynasty the Packers built during the 1960s, such as halfback / placekicker Paul Hornung, linebacker Ray Nitschke, and fullback Jim Taylor; all early in their careers and future hall of famers.
The 1960 game represented a chance for Philadelphia to add to the two titles they had won in 1948 and 1949, but the team had declined to only two wins in 1958. Head coach Buck Shaw was in his third season with the Eagles, and in what turned out to be his final year as a head coach, and had turned around the team from a 2–9–1 record in 1958 to seven wins in 1959 to a conference championship and the league's best record in 1960. The Eagles were led on the field by quarterback Norm Van Brocklin, age 34, who was ranked second in the NFL with 2,471 passing yards and 24 passing touchdowns, behind Johnny Unitas of the Colts in both statistics, and was playing in his final game before he retired. Less than a month after the title game, he was named the head coach of the expansion Minnesota Vikings. Philadelphia had clinched the Eastern title early on December 4 at 9–1, and there was concern by Shaw that it could have an adverse effect on his team.
The 1961 National Football League Championship Game was the 29th title game. It was played at "New" City Stadium, later known as Lambeau Field, in Green Bay, Wisconsin on December 31, with an attendance of 39,029.
The game was a match-up of the Eastern Conference champion New York Giants (10–3–1) and the Western Conference champion Green Bay Packers (11–3). The home team Packers were a 3⅓-point favorite.
Packers Ray Nitschke, Boyd Dowler, and Paul Hornung, were on leave from the U.S. Army. Hornung scored 19 points (a touchdown, three field goals, and four extra points) for the Packers and was named the MVP of the game, and awarded a 1962 Chevrolet Corvette from Sport magazine.
The victory was the first of five NFL titles won in a seven-season span by the Packers and their head coach, Vince Lombardi. It was the Packers' seventh league title and their first in 17 years.
This was the first NFL championship game held in Green Bay. The Packers' only other championship home game until then was 22 years earlier in 1939, played at the State Fair Park in West Allis outside Milwaukee. Both teams were eager to shed the "runner-up" label. The Giants were in their third championship game in four years, falling in 1958 and 1959 to the Baltimore Colts, and the Packers had lost the title game in 1960 to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants' last league title was in 1956 and the Packers in 1944.
Temperature at game time hovered at 20 °F (−7 °C) and for several days the field had been covered with a tarp, topped by a foot (30 cm) of hay. The covering was particularly significant as just two days before, the temperature dipped to −15 °F (−26 °C). Field conditions were of paramount concern if the teams were to make effective use of the running game. All the Packers players used cleats and about half of the Giants players, led by head coach Allie Sherman, chose sneakers, believing they would grip better on a frozen field. At 6 a.m. on game day, workers began the arduous process of snow and hay removal by hand using baskets, as heavy equipment could have potentially damaged the field.
Green Bay had defeated the Giants 20–17 four weeks earlier at County Stadium in Milwaukee to clinch the Western title before a record crowd of 47,012.
With 40,000 tickets sold at $10 each and $615,000 in TV revenue, this game was the first NFL Championship to generate $1 million in revenue. Each player on the winning Packers team received $5,195, while Giants players made $3,340 each.
This was the fifth shutout in NFL Championship game history and coach Lombardi's first of five championships in seven years. Lombardi used a strategy in this game that was common in all the Packers championships. A strategy of fundamentally sound football (the Packers had no turnovers and only 16 yards in penalties) and to beat the opposition at their strength, in this case running the ball at the Giants linemen Andy Robustelli and Rosey Grier. This strategy allowed the Packers to control the game, running 63 offensive plays to only 43 for the Giants. In 1959. Lombardi had taken over a Green Bay franchise that was the worst team in the league in 1958, and in three years turn them into NFL Champions.