American Football Wiki
1938 National Football League season
Regular season
Duration September 9 - December 4, 1938
East Champions New York Giants
West Champions Green Bay Packers
Championship Game
Champions New York Giants
National Football League seasons
 < 1937 1939 > 

The 1938 NFL season was the 19th regular season of the National Football League. The season ended when the New York Giants defeated the Green Bay Packers in the NFL Championship Game.

Major rule changes

  • A new 15-yard penalty for roughing the passer is enacted.
  • If a kickoff goes out of bounds, the receiving team may opt to take possession of the ball at their own 45-yard line.
  • The penalty for a second forward pass during a play is changed from 5 yards and a loss of down to just 5 yards.

Division races

In Week Seven, the Bears lost at home to the Rams, 23–21, while the Packers beat the Pirates (the future Steelers) 20–0, giving Green Bay the lead for the first time. The Packers won their next three games to clinch the Western Division.

In the Eastern Division, the Redskins led until Week Ten, when they fell to the Bears, 31–7; the Giants' 28–0 win over the Rams gave New York the division lead on November 13. The division title still came down to the last day of the regular season, December 4, when 57,461 turned out at the Polo Grounds in New York to watch the 7–2–1 Giants host the 6–2–2 Redskins. A Washington win would have made them 7–2–2 and New York 7–3–1, with the Skins as division champs. New York needed only to win or tie, and did the former, five touchdowns en route to a 36–0 victory.

Four neutral-site games were held: two at Civic Stadium in Buffalo, New York, one in Erie, Pennsylvania and one in Charleston, West Virginia. The Buffalo games marked the league's first return to Buffalo since the folding of the Bisons in 1929.

Final standings

W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT= Winning Percentage, PF= Points For, PA = Points Against

Note: The NFL did not officially count tie games in the standings until 1972

Eastern Division
New York Giants 8 2 1 .800 194 79
Washington Redskins 6 3 2 .667 148 154
Brooklyn Dodgers 4 4 3 .500 131 161
Philadelphia Eagles 5 6 0 .455 154 164
Pittsburgh Pirates 2 9 0 .182 79 169
Western Division
Green Bay Packers 8 3 0 .727 223 118
Detroit Lions 7 4 0 .636 119 108
Chicago Bears 6 5 0 .545 194 148
Cleveland Rams 4 7 0 .364 131 215
Chicago Cardinals 2 9 0 .182 111 168

NFL Championship Game

N.Y. Giants 23, Green Bay 17, at Polo Grounds, New York City, December 11

After the game, the Giants faced a team of "Pro All-Stars," an all-star team consisting mostly of NFL players but also including three players from the Los Angeles Bulldogs, at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles, California on January 15, 1939. The game, which the Giants won 13–10, was the first of five annual NFL all-star games held under the format (but the only one to include non-NFL players) prior to the creation of the Pro Bowl in 1951.


Joe F. Carr Trophy (Most Valuable Player)   Mel Hein, Center, N.Y. Giants

See also

1938 NFL Draft

1938 Pro All-Star Game


Template:1938 NFL season by team

NFL seasons

Early Era (1920-1969)



Modern Era (1970-present)