What if the NFL Added Expansion Teams?


The last time the NFL added a team to the league, it was the Houston Texans in 2002. In the last two decades, the team and its 32 teams have been constant. In this article, I will explore a world where each of the eight NFL divisions are given a new expansion team. Note: the NFL has continuously hinted at adding an all-European division, but this article will focus only on North American teams, being added to divisions based on geographic proximity and their market sizes. 

Current AFC East Teams: Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Jets

New team: Toronto Beavers

I understand that the ‘Beavers’ doesn’t sound so opposing and scary to other teams, but the Beaver is a symbol of the City of Toronto, even being featured on the city’s coat of arms. Oregon State University is called the Beavers in the NCAA, and they have a nice color scheme and logo. Regardless, Toronto is home to the Blue Jays in the MLB, Raptors in the NBA, and the Maple Leafs in the NHL. American football is the only major 4 North American sport that Toronto does not have. Yet some fans are unhappy about the Beavers’ imaginary inclusion into the NFL. Local Patriots fan, Jameson Mertz, proclaimed “I would stop watching football!” when asked his thoughts on the Beavers joining the AFC East. But, their close proximity to New England, New York, and especially Buffalo makes this an easy team to add into the AFC East. 

Current AFC North Teams: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers

New team: Louisville Stallions

The name Stallions pays homage to Louisville’s horseracing industry, including the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, the city of over 600,000 people which is the third largest in the country without a ‘Power 4’ team. Louisville is nicely situated in the Rust Belt along with the other teams in this division, and is basically right across the river from Cincinnati. I think the Stallions would fit in nicely in the AFC North.

Current AFC South Teams: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans

New team: Oklahoma City Stampede

This division is already a geographic potpourri. Adding in an Oklahoma City team won’t change much. The largest city of Oklahoma and capital is, I believe, in need of a football team. The state’s main college teams—the Oklahoma Sooners and Oklahoma State Cowboys—both have huge, rabid fanbases, and I don’t think the ‘Stampede’ would be any different. The logo would be a bison, which historically is a large symbol in Oklahoma’s history, and a pretty cool symbol for a sports team. Their addition in the AFC South is mostly helped by the proximity to Houston and their established success as a market, as the Thunder of the NBA recently moved there. 

Current AFC West Teams: Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders

New team: Salt Lake City Summit

Nicely situated in between all four teams in this division, the ‘Summit’ would become Salt Lake City’s second ‘Power 4’ franchise, alongside the NBA’s Utah Jazz. Utah is known for its mountains, especially its hosting of the Winter Olympics, and the Summit would be a pretty killer logo for this team. Utah has great collegiate football fans across Utah, Utah State, and Brigham Young University, and I’m sure their enthusiasm would continue into an AFC West franchise.

Current NFC East Teams: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Commanders

New team: Austin Vaqueros

Since Dallas is in the NFC East, I figure a team from Austin being in this division isn’t totally out of the blue either. Funny enough, the name ‘Vaqueros’ is basically another way of saying Cowboys, so they’re definitely trampling on Dallas’ territory. Austin is the biggest American city without a ‘Power 4’ team, and this quickly-growing region needs to get a sports team sooner or later. The Vaqueros pay homage to the region’s strong Latin American heritage and cattle industry, while giving a super cool logo and scheme. 

Current NFC North Teams: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings

New team: St. Louis Phantoms

The name ‘Phantoms’ pays homage to St. Louis’ former aerospace industry in which they produced the warplanes called Phantoms, and it’s a super dope name for a sports team in my opinion. “The Phantoms would be cool, but it would be a unique experience” says Robert Ackerly III, local Packers fan. St. Louis recently lost the Rams of the NFL when they moved back to Los Angeles, and the big city is itching for a new team. The Phantoms would join a division similar to the division the St. Louis Cardinals play in for baseball, and all of these historic cities would mesh nicely in the NFC North. 

Current NFC South Teams: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

New team: Birmingham Vulcan

Going to be honest…not the coolest name. But Birmingham doesn’t have much going on besides football! Birmingham, the biggest city in Alabama, is home to the largest iron statue in the world, which depicts Vulcan, the Roman god of moons overlooking the city of Birmingham. The loyal fans of the Alabama Crimson Tide and Auburn Tigers of the NCAA would go loco for an NFL franchise. Birmingham has had success with low-level teams across various leagues, and I think they fit very nicely in between the existing NFC South teams. 

Current NFC West Teams: Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers

New team: Portland Mountaineers

Situated in the foothills of the towering Cascade Mountains, Portland is a quickly sprawling city with only one franchise to date, the Portland Trailblazers of the NBA. I think Mountaineers is a super cool nickname, and it works for the West Virginia and Appalachian State collegiate teams. Right between Seattle and the Californian teams, Portland is a perfect fit for a new franchise in football and in this NFC West division. 

(Other cities that deserve a team but I didn’t have room for/didn’t fit: Honolulu, San Diego, San Antonio, Omaha, Milwaukee, Memphis, Orlando, Virginia Beach, Hartford, Mexico City)