The American Football Conference, also known as AFC, is part of the football conferences alongside the National Football Conference (NFC). They are the two highest professional football levels of American football. The conferences involve 16 teams which are categorized into four divisions. AFC was created by merging teams from the American Football League and National Football League in 1970 merge.
It included ten teams from the AFL and 3 teams from the NFL. The remaining 13 teams then formed the second conference, the NFC. Over the years, changes were made and the conference now has a total of 16 teams with four divisions. As of 2022, the champions were Kansas City Chiefs, earning their third title in a row.
The four divisions are East, West, South, and North.
How American Football Conference does work
Games in every season are played twice, home and away. This means every AFC team will play every team in their division twice in a regular season. Games are assigned to a team’s final position in a division from the previous season. The remaining games, 8 in number, are split between two NFL divisions.
Each year, the cycle is standard but the assignment shifts. For instance, in the current 2023 season, teams from the AFC West division play against teams in the AFC North and NFC East. This leaves common opponents to compete non-divisionally.
At the end of every season, top teams in every division alongside the best regular-season non-division winners, also known as the wild cards qualify for playoffs. This competition is known as the AFC Championship Game and the trophy won is the Lamar trophy. The winner from the championship game final then proceeds to compete against the winner from the NFC championship game in the Super Bowl cup.
AFC was formed in 1970 after the merger between AFL and NFL. The AFL initially had eight teams but later added two teams, the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals, in 1966 and 1968 respectively. However, there was a disagreement in the division set up between the newly formed AFC and NFC. The disagreement was later solved in the same year by choosing a setup from the fishbowl.
In 1976, two more teams joined the conferences, Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They were temporarily placed in the two conferences for one season before both teams decided to shift conferences. The Seahawks shifted to the NFC while the Tampa Bays switched to AFC in the year 2002.
Ever since at least five teams have relocated. Some of the teams include Baltimore Colts, Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, Oakland Raiders, and Houston Oilers. The Houston Oilers moved permanently to Tennessee in 1997 making them change their team’s name to Tennessee Titans. In 2002, Houston Texans joined the AFC. This made the NFL expand further.
The AFC has sent more teams than the NFC to the super bowl since the year 1995. 16 teams from the AFC have proceeded to the super bowl final compared to 13 from the NFC. Some of the 16 teams from the AFC include New England Patriots (10 times), Denver Broncos (4 times), Pittsburgh Steelers (4 times), Baltimore Ravens (2 times), Indianapolis Colts (2 times), Kansas City Chiefs (2 times), Las Vegas Raiders (1 time), and Tennessee Titans (1 time).
After the merge, a new logo was introduced. It involved contents from the old AFL logo like the “A” and the six stars. In the 2010 NFL season, a new logo was introduced, though with similar content. The “A” remained but was expanded to fit the four stars that were left. 2 stars were removed, leaving the four stars to represent each division.
From 1970 to 1977, NBC aired the AFC on Sunday afternoons and playoffs too. By 1998, CBS was the main broadcaster of the AFC games until 2013. In 2014, Fox Television aired some select games of the AFC. Since 1990 ABC and ESPN today air select games of the AFC and display all playoffs, though ESPN is more reliable.