American Football Conference

The American Football Conference (AFC) is one of the two conferences of the National Football League (NFL), the highest professional level of American football in the United States. This conference and its counterpart the National Football Conference (NFC), currently contain 16 teams organized into 4 divisions. Both conferences were created as part of the 1970 merger with the rival American Football League (AFL), with all ten of the former AFL teams and three NFL teams forming the AFC, and the remaining thirteen NFL clubs forming the NFC. A series of league expansions and division realignments have occurred since the merger, thus making the current total of 16 clubs in each conference. The current AFC champions are the New England Patriots, who defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2018 AFC Championship Game for their 11th conference championship.

American Football Conference
American Football Conference logo
American Football Conference logo (2010–present)
LeagueNational Football League
SportAmerican football
FormerlyAmerican Football League (AFL)
Founded1970
Teams
No. of teams16
Championships
Most recent American Football Conference champion(s)New England Patriots (11th title)
Most American Football Conference titlesNew England Patriots (11 titles)

Current teams

Since 2002, like the NFC, the AFC has 16 teams, organized into four divisions each with four teams: East, North, South and West.[1][2][3]

Division Team Location Stadium Ref(s)
East Buffalo Bills Orchard Park, New York New Era Field [4]
Miami Dolphins Miami Gardens, Florida Hard Rock Stadium [5]
New England Patriots Foxborough, Massachusetts Gillette Stadium [6]
New York Jets East Rutherford, New Jersey MetLife Stadium [7]
North Baltimore Ravens Baltimore, Maryland M&T Bank Stadium [8]
Cincinnati Bengals Cincinnati, Ohio Paul Brown Stadium [9]
Cleveland Browns Cleveland, Ohio FirstEnergy Stadium [10][11]
Pittsburgh Steelers Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Heinz Field [12]
South Houston Texans Houston, Texas NRG Stadium [13]
Indianapolis Colts Indianapolis, Indiana Lucas Oil Stadium [14]
Jacksonville Jaguars Jacksonville, Florida TIAA Bank Field [15]
Tennessee Titans Nashville, Tennessee Nissan Stadium [16]
West Denver Broncos Denver, Colorado Broncos Stadium at Mile High [17]
Kansas City Chiefs Kansas City, Missouri Arrowhead Stadium [18]
Los Angeles Chargers Carson, California Dignity Health Sports Park [19]
Oakland Raiders Oakland, California Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum [20]

Season structure

POS AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West
1st Patriots Ravens Texans Chiefs
2nd Dolphins Steelers Colts Chargers
3rd Bills Browns Titans Broncos
4th Jets Bengals Jaguars Raiders
POS NFC East NFC North NFC South NFC West
1st Cowboys Bears Saints Rams
2nd Eagles Vikings Falcons Seahawks
3rd Redskins Packers Panthers 49ers
4th Giants Lions Buccaneers Cardinals
This chart of the 2018 season standings displays an application of the NFL scheduling formula. The Patriots in 2018 (highlighted in green) finished in first place in the AFC East. Thus, in 2019, the Patriots will play two games against each of its division rivals (highlighted in light blue), one game against each team in the AFC North and NFC East (highlighted in yellow), and one game each against the first-place finishers in the AFC South and AFC West (highlighted in orange).

Currently, the thirteen opponents each team faces over the 16-game regular season schedule are set using a pre-determined formula:[21]

Each AFC team plays the other teams in their respective division twice (home and away) during the regular season, in addition to 10 other games assigned to their schedule by the NFL. Two of these games are assigned on the basis of a particular team's final divisional standing from the previous season. The remaining 8 games are split between the roster of two other NFL divisions. This assignment shifts each year and will follow a standard cycle. Using the 2012 regular season schedule as an example, each team in the AFC West plays against every team in the AFC North and NFC South. In this way, non-divisional competition will be mostly among common opponents – the exception being the two games assigned based on the team's prior-season divisional standing.

At the end of each season, the four division winners and two wild cards (non-division winners with best regular season record) in the AFC qualify for the playoffs. The AFC playoffs culminate in the AFC Championship Game with the winner receiving the Lamar Hunt Trophy. The AFC Champion then plays the NFC Champion in the Super Bowl.

History

Oldafclogo
Original American Football Conference logo, based on the AFL logo with blue stars

Both the AFC and the NFC were created after the NFL merged with the American Football League (AFL) in 1970.[22] The AFL began play in 1960 with eight teams, and added two more expansion clubs (the Miami Dolphins in 1966 and the Cincinnati Bengals in 1968) before the merger. In order to equalize the number of teams in each conference, three NFL teams that predated the AFL's launch (the Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, and the then-Baltimore Colts) joined the ten former AFL teams to form the AFC. The two AFL divisions AFL East and AFL West were more or less intact, while the NFL's Century Division, in which the Browns and the Steelers had played since 1967, was moved from the NFL to become the new AFC Central. Upon the completion of the merger of the AFL and NFL in 1970, the newly-minted American Football Conference had already agreed upon their divisional setup along mostly geographical lines for the 1970 season; the National Football Conference, however, could not agree upon their setup, and one was chosen from a fishbowl on January 16, 1970.

Since the merger, five expansion teams have joined the AFC and two have left, thus making the current total 16. When the Seattle Seahawks and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers joined the league in 1976, they were temporarily placed in the NFC and AFC respectively. This arrangement lasted for one season only before the two teams switched conferences. The Seahawks eventually returned to the NFC as a result of the 2002 realignment. The expansion Jacksonville Jaguars joined the AFC in 1995. There have been five teams that have relocated at least once. In 1984, the Baltimore Colts relocated to Indianapolis. In 1995, the Cleveland Browns had attempted to move to Baltimore; the resulting dispute between Cleveland and the team led to Modell establishing the Baltimore Ravens with the players and personnel from the Browns, while the Browns were placed in suspended operations before they were reinstated by the NFL. The Ravens were treated as an expansion team.

In California, the Oakland Raiders relocated to Los Angeles in 1982, and back to Oakland in 1995, while the San Diego Chargers moved to Los Angeles in 2017.

The Houston Oilers moved to Tennessee in 1997, where they were renamed the Tennessee Oilers. The team would change its name again, two years later, to the Tennessee Titans.

The NFL would again expand in 2002, adding the Houston Texans to the AFC. With the exception of the aforementioned relocations since that time, the divisional setup has remained static ever since.

Between 1995 and 2018, the AFC has sent less than half of the 16 AFC teams to the Super Bowl with only 7 of the 16 individual teams making it. New England Patriots (10 times), Denver Broncos (4 times), Pittsburgh Steelers (4 times), Baltimore Ravens (2 times), Indianapolis Colts (2 times), Oakland Raiders (1 time), and Tennessee Titans (1 time). By contrast, the NFC has sent 13 of the 16 NFC teams during that same time frame with only the Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, and Washington Redskins missing out on an appearance in the Super Bowl. 16 of the last 18 AFC champions have started one of just three quarterbacks - Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Ben Roethlisberger - in the Super Bowl. The AFC has started 5 quarterbacks in the last 18 Super Bowls, while the NFC has started 15.

American Football Conference logo old
2nd American Football Conference logo used from 1970 to 2009

The merged league created a new logo for the AFC that took elements of the old AFL logo, specifically the "A" and the six stars surrounding it. The AFC logo basically remained unchanged from 1970 to 2009. The 2010 NFL season introduced an updated AFC logo, with the most notable revision being the removal of two stars (leaving four representing the four divisions of the AFC), and moving the stars inside the letter, similar to the NFC logo.[23]

References

  1. ^ "2019 Pro Bowl selections for every team: Full NFC, AFC rosters". ESPN.com. 2018-12-19. Retrieved 2019-02-23.
  2. ^ Stuart, Chase (2014-12-16). "Parity? A.F.C. Is Made Up of Haves and Have-Nots". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-02-23.
  3. ^ "2018 NFL playoffs: The fatal flaw that could stop your favorite team from winning the Super Bowl".
  4. ^ Baker, Kelly (August 18, 2016). "A look through history of the home of the Buffalo Bills". Buffalo Bills. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
  5. ^ "FAQs". Hard Rock Stadium. Retrieved August 19, 2016. What is capacity in the new Stadium? The capacity is being reduced from 76,018 to approximately 65,326 seats.
  6. ^ "Gillette Stadium - Venue Information". Gillette Stadium. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  7. ^ "MetLife Stadium". MetLife Stadium. August 6, 2015. Retrieved August 6, 2015.
  8. ^ "M&T Stadium". Baltimore Ravens. August 7, 2015. Retrieved August 7, 2015.
  9. ^ "Facts and Stats". Cincinnati Bengals. August 7, 2015. Retrieved August 7, 2015.
  10. ^ "Cleveland Browns Team Capsule" (PDF). 2016 Official National Football League Record and Fact Book. National Football League. July 15, 2016. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  11. ^ "About Us". FirstEnergy Stadium. 2017. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  12. ^ "Heinz Field Facts". Heinz Field. August 7, 2015. Retrieved August 7, 2015.
  13. ^ "NRG Stadium". NRG Park. August 7, 2015. Retrieved August 7, 2015.
  14. ^ "About". Lucas Oil Stadium. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  15. ^ O'Hallaran, Ryan (February 12, 2018). "Jaguars announce tarp removal, 2018 season-ticket renewal plan". Florida Times-Union. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  16. ^ "Titans Fingertip Information" (PDF). 2016 Tennessee Titans Media Guide. Tennessee Titans. July 21, 2016. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  17. ^ "Facts - Figures – Sports Authority Field at Mile High". Denver Broncos. August 6, 2015. Retrieved August 6, 2015.
  18. ^ "Homes of the Chiefs" (PDF). 2016 Kansas City Chiefs Media Guide. Kansas City Chiefs. August 15, 2016. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  19. ^ "Stadium Fact Guide". City of San Diego. August 7, 2015. Retrieved August 7, 2015.
  20. ^ "Quick Facts" (PDF). 2015 Oakland Raiders Media Guide. Oakland Raiders. August 28, 2015. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  21. ^ "2012 Opponents Determined" (PDF). NFL. January 2, 2012. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
  22. ^ "Pro Football – History". Retrieved April 3, 2009.
  23. ^ Paul Lukas. "But I Absolutely Refuse to Write About the Draft Caps". Uni Watch blog. Archived from the original on May 6, 2010. Retrieved April 16, 2010.
1971 NFL season

The 1971 NFL season was the 52nd regular season of the National Football League. The season ended with Super Bowl VI when the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Miami Dolphins 24–3 at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans. The Pro Bowl took place on January 23, 1972, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum; the AFC beat the NFC 26–13.

1972 NFL season

The 1972 NFL season was the 53rd regular season of the National Football League. The Miami Dolphins became the first (and to date the only) NFL team to finish a championship season undefeated and untied when they beat the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII.

1973 NFL season

The 1973 NFL season was the 54th regular season of the National Football League. The season was highlighted by O.J. Simpson becoming the first player to rush for 2,000 yards in one season.

The season ended with Super Bowl VIII when the Miami Dolphins repeated as league champions by defeating the Minnesota Vikings 24–7 at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas. The Pro Bowl took place on January 20, 1974, at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri; the AFC beat the NFC 15–13.

1974 NFL season

The 1974 NFL season was the 55th regular season of the National Football League. The season ended with Super Bowl IX when the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Minnesota Vikings. Players held a strike from July 1 until August 10, prior to the regular season beginning; only one preseason game (that year's College All-Star Game) was canceled, and the preseason contests were held with all-rookie rosters.

1975 NFL season

The 1975 NFL season was the 56th regular season of the National Football League. It was the first NFL season without a tie game. The league made two significant changes to increase the appeal of the game:

The surviving clubs with the best regular season records were made the home teams for each playoff round. Previously, game sites rotated by division.

The league pioneered the use of equipping referees with wireless microphones to announce penalties and clarify complex and/or unusual rulings to both fans and the media.Instead of a traditional Thanksgiving Day game hosted by the Dallas Cowboys, the league scheduled a Buffalo Bills at St. Louis Cardinals contest. This was the first season since 1966 that the Cowboys did not play on that holiday.

The season ended with Super Bowl X when the Pittsburgh Steelers repeated as champions by defeating the Dallas Cowboys 21–17 at the Orange Bowl in Miami.

1976 NFL season

The 1976 NFL season was the 57th regular season of the National Football League. The year 1976 was also the Bicentennial of the United States although the NFL did not issue its own Bicentennial patch. The Dallas Cowboys did modify their helmet (red, white and blue stripes) to honor the year, and were the only NFL team to recognize the Bicentennial.The league expanded to 28 teams with the addition of the Seattle Seahawks and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This fulfilled one of the conditions agreed to in 1966 for the 1970 AFL–NFL merger, which called for the league to expand to 28 teams by 1970 or soon thereafter.

For this season only, the Seahawks played in the NFC West while the Buccaneers played in the AFC West. The Seahawks would return to the NFC West with the realignment prior to the 2002 season. The Buccaneers would set a record of futility, becoming the first NFL team to finish a season 0–14. The Buccaneers would go on to lose their first 26 games as a franchise before finally winning against the New Orleans Saints and St. Louis Cardinals to finish the 1977 season.

The New York Giants finally opened their new Giants Stadium after spending two seasons at the Yale Bowl and one season at Shea Stadium.

The season ended with Super Bowl XI when the Oakland Raiders defeated the Minnesota Vikings 32–14 in the Rose Bowl.

1978 NFL season

The 1978 NFL season was the 59th regular season of the National Football League. The league expanded the regular season from a 14-game schedule to 16. Furthermore, the playoff format was expanded from 8 teams to 10 teams by adding another wild card from each conference. The wild card teams played each other, with the winner advancing to the playoff round of eight teams.

The season ended with Super Bowl XIII when the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Dallas Cowboys at the Orange Bowl in Miami.

The average salary for a player in 1978 was under $62,600, up 13.2 percent over the previous year. Fran Tarkenton was the highest-paid quarterback at $360,000 and running back O. J. Simpson was the highest paid player, at just under $733,400.

1979 NFL season

The 1979 NFL season was the 60th regular season of the National Football League. The season ended with Super Bowl XIV when the Pittsburgh Steelers repeated as champions by defeating the Los Angeles Rams 31–19 at the Rose Bowl. The Steelers became the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls twice. It was also the 20th anniversary of the American Football League.

1980 NFL season

The 1980 NFL season was the 61st regular season of the National Football League.

Prior to the season in March 1980, fellow NFL owners voted against the proposed move by the Raiders from Oakland, California to Los Angeles. Raider team owner Al Davis along with the Los Angeles Coliseum sued the NFL charging that they had violated antitrust laws. A verdict in the trial would not be decided until before the 1982 NFL season; however, the planned move to Los Angeles went through that very season.

Meanwhile, the season ended at Super Bowl XV played on January 25, 1981, in New Orleans, Louisiana, with these same Oakland Raiders defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 27–10, making them the first Wild Card team ever to win the Super Bowl.

1983 NFL season

The 1983 NFL season was the 64th regular season of the National Football League. The season ended with Super Bowl XVIII when the Los Angeles Raiders defeated the Washington Redskins 38–9 at Tampa Stadium in Florida.

1997 NFL season

The 1997 NFL season was the 78th regular season of the National Football League. The Oilers relocated from Houston, Texas to Nashville, Tennessee. The newly renamed Tennessee Oilers played their home games during this season at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee while construction of a new stadium in Nashville started. Houston would rejoin the NFL with the expansion Texans in 2002.

This was the last season to date that TNT broadcast NFL games, as well as the last for NBC until 2006. When the TV contracts were renewed near the end of the season, Fox retained the National Football Conference package, CBS took over the American Football Conference package and ESPN won the right to televise all of the Sunday night games.

Due to Game 7 of the 1997 World Series, the Chicago Bears–Miami Dolphins game at Pro Player Stadium was delayed one day to Monday, October 27.

The Denver Broncos and Tampa Bay Buccaneers both changed their uniforms, and the new uniforms for both teams were introduced during this season.

The season ended with Super Bowl XXXII when the Denver Broncos defeated the Green Bay Packers 31–24 at Qualcomm Stadium. This broke the National Football Conference's streak of thirteen consecutive Super Bowl victories, the last American Football Conference win having been the Los Angeles Raiders defeating the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII.

AFC Championship Game

The AFC Championship Game is the annual championship game of the American Football Conference (AFC) and one of the two semi-final playoff games of the National Football League (NFL), the largest professional American football league in the United States. The game is played on the penultimate Sunday in January by the two remaining playoff teams, following the AFC postseason's first two rounds. The AFC champion then advances to face the winner of the National Football Conference (NFC) Championship Game in the Super Bowl.

The game was established as part of the 1970 merger between the NFL and the American Football League (AFL), with the merged league realigning into two conferences. Since 1984, each winner of the AFC Championship Game has also received the Lamar Hunt Trophy, named after the founder of the AFL and the founder of the Kansas City Chiefs, Lamar Hunt.

AFC East

The American Football Conference – Eastern Division or AFC East is one of the four divisions of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). There are currently four teams that reside in the division: the Buffalo Bills (based in Orchard Park, New York); the Miami Dolphins (based in Miami Gardens, Florida); the New England Patriots (based in Foxborough, Massachusetts); and the New York Jets (based in East Rutherford, New Jersey).

Since the division's enfranchisement in 1960, with the creation of the American Football League, the division has been represented in nineteen Super Bowls and won eight of them. The most recent appearance in the Super Bowl by an AFC East team was the Patriots victory in Super Bowl LIII.

At the end of 2018, the Patriots had the most wins in the division's history, with a record of 500-392-9, with a playoff record of 35-19 (6-5 in Super Bowls) entering the playoffs of that season. The Dolphins were second at 446-350-4 (having played 84 fewer games than their division rivals) with a playoff record of 20-21 (2-3 in Super Bowls). The Bills were at 406-470-8 with a playoff record of 14-15 (with two American Football League titles) and 0-4 in four consecutive Super Bowls. The Jets held a record of 396-480-8, with a playoff record of 12-13 including a victory in Super Bowl III.In 2012, the Patriots broke a tie with the Dolphins for winning the most division titles; with subsequent division titles in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 the Patriots have won 20 AFL/AFC East division titles to Miami's 14. The Bills have won ten division titles, and the Jets have won four.

Two teams formerly in the division combined for ten AFL/AFC East titles – the Houston Oilers (now the Tennessee Titans) won four division titles (and the 1960 and 1961 league titles) during the AFL era while the Baltimore–Indianapolis Colts won six division titles (and Super Bowl V) in the 32 seasons they were in the division.

AFC North

The American Football Conference – Northern Division or AFC North is one of the four divisions of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The division was adopted after the restructuring of the 2002 NFL season, when the league realigned divisions after expanding to 32 teams.

AFC South

The American Football Conference – Southern Division or AFC South is one of the four divisions of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). It was created before the 2002 season when the league realigned divisions after expanding to 32 teams. Since its creation, the division has had the same four members: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Tennessee Titans.

Before the 2002 season, the Texans did not exist, the Colts belonged to the AFC East, and the Titans and Jaguars were members of the AFC Central. Indianapolis, Tennessee, and Jacksonville all won multiple division titles and wild card berths in their prior respective divisions.

Entering 2016, the Colts hold a 494–433–7 record and a 22–23 playoff record with two NFL league crowns, four Super Bowl appearances and two wins. The Titans hold a record of 404–442–6 with a playoff record of 14–19, including two AFL championships (as the Houston Oilers) and the loss in Super Bowl XXXIV. The Jaguars hold a 152–184 record and a 5–6 playoff record. The Texans made the playoffs for the first time in their ten-season existence in 2011 and hold a 97–127 record and a 2–3 playoff record.

The Colts' Super Bowl XLI victory in 2006 is the only Super Bowl win from the AFC South to date, and the division owns the longest active Super Bowl victory drought. The next ten Super Bowls were won by at least one team in the other seven divisions, including seven victories from seven divisions from 2009 to 2015.

AFC West

The American Football Conference – Western Division or AFC West is one of the four divisions of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The division comprises the Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs, and Oakland Raiders.

The division has sent teams to the Super Bowl sixteen times beginning with Super Bowl I vs. Green Bay. Currently, as of the 2017 season, the Broncos and Raiders are tied with the most Super Bowl wins within the division with 3 each; Denver and Oakland have appeared in the Super Bowl 5 and 2 additional times respectively. The Chiefs are 1-1, while the Chargers lost their lone Super Bowl appearance in Super Bowl XXIX.

All-America Football Conference

The All-America Football Conference (AAFC) was a professional American football league that challenged the established National Football League (NFL) from 1946 to 1949. One of the NFL's most formidable challengers, the AAFC attracted many of the nation's best players, and introduced many lasting innovations to the game. However, the AAFC was ultimately unable to sustain itself in competition with the NFL. After its folding, three of its teams were admitted to the NFL: the San Francisco 49ers, the Cleveland Browns and the original Baltimore Colts (not to be confused with the later Baltimore Colts team, now the Indianapolis Colts).

The AAFC was the second American professional football league (the first being the third American Football League of 1940–1941) to have its teams play in a double round robin format in the regular season: each team had a home game and an away game with each of the other AAFC teams.

The Cleveland Browns were the AAFC's most successful club, winning every annual championship in the league's four years of operation.

List of AFC Championship Game broadcasters

The following is a list of the television and radio networks and announcers who have broadcast the American Football Conference Championship Game throughout the years. The years listed concentrate on the season instead of the calendar year that the game took place. The forerunner to the AFC Championship Game (prior to the 1970 AFL–NFL merger) was the AFL Championship Game.

List of Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees

The Pro Football Hall of Fame includes players, coaches, and contributors (e.g., owners, general managers and team or league officials) who have "made outstanding contributions to professional football". The charter class of seventeen was selected in 1963. As of 2019, 326 individuals have been elected.Enshrinees are selected by a 48-person selection committee which meets each year at the time and location of the Super Bowl. Current rules of the committee stipulate that between four and eight individuals are selected each year. Any person may nominate an individual to the hall, provided the nominee has not played or coached for at least five seasons prior to the nomination. Not including the charter class, 76 players have been inducted in their first year of eligibility.In addition to the regular selection committee, which primarily focuses on contributions made over the past approximately thirty seasons, a nine-member seniors committee (which is a subset of the larger committee) submits two nominees each year whose contributions came prior to 1985. These nominees are referred as "seniors nominees" (formerly "old-timer" nominees).

AFC
NFC

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