The NFL operated in a two-conference system from 1933 to 1966 , where the champions of each conference would meet in the NFL Championship Game . If two teams tied for the conference lead, they would meet in a one-game playoff to determine the conference champion. In 1967 , the NFL expanded from 15 teams to 16 teams. Instead of just evening out the conferences by adding the expansion New Orleans Saints to the seven-member Western Conference, the NFL realigned the conferences and split each into two four-team divisions. The four conference champions would meet in the NFL playoffs , a two-round playoff.  The NFL also operated the Playoff Bowl (officially the Bert Bell Benefit Bowl) from 1960 to 1969. Effectively a third-place game , pitting the two conference runners-up against each other, the league considers Playoff Bowls to have been exhibitions rather than playoff games. The league discontinued the Playoff Bowl in 1970 due to its perception as a game for losers.