American Football Conference

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American Football Conference (AFC)
American Football Conference logo.svg
American Football Conference logo (2010-present)
LeagueNational Football League
SportAmerican Football
FormerlyAmerican Football League (AFL)
Founded1970
No. of teams16
Most recent champion(s)Baltimore Ravens (2nd title)
Most titlesPittsburgh Steelers (8 titles)
 
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American Football Conference (AFC)
American Football Conference logo.svg
American Football Conference logo (2010-present)
LeagueNational Football League
SportAmerican Football
FormerlyAmerican Football League (AFL)
Founded1970
No. of teams16
Most recent champion(s)Baltimore Ravens (2nd title)
Most titlesPittsburgh Steelers (8 titles)

The American Football Conference (AFC) is one of the two conferences of the National Football League (NFL). This conference and its counterpart, the National Football Conference (NFC), currently contain 16 teams each, making up the 32 teams of the NFL.

The American Football Conference originated as the American Football League (AFL), with which the NFL combined in the AFL–NFL merger of 1970. Ten AFC teams originally formed the AFL, while three others were NFL teams that were added to the AFC to equalize the number of franchises, and another three are more recent expansion teams (one, the Houston Texans, plays in the market from which one of the AFL's founding teams, now known as the Tennessee Titans, originated).

Contents

Current teams

Since 2002, the AFC has 16 teams, organized into four divisions each with four teams: East, North, South, and West.

DivisionTeamCity/TownStadium
EastBuffalo BillsOrchard Park, NYRalph Wilson Stadium and Rogers Centre (1 game per year)
Miami DolphinsMiami Gardens, FLSun Life Stadium
New England PatriotsFoxborough, MAGillette Stadium
New York JetsEast Rutherford, NJMetLife Stadium
NorthBaltimore RavensBaltimore, MDM&T Bank Stadium
Cincinnati BengalsCincinnati, OHPaul Brown Stadium
Cleveland BrownsCleveland, OHCleveland Browns Stadium
Pittsburgh SteelersPittsburgh, PAHeinz Field
SouthHouston TexansHouston, TXReliant Stadium
Indianapolis ColtsIndianapolis, INLucas Oil Stadium
Jacksonville JaguarsJacksonville, FLEverBank Field
Tennessee TitansNashville, TNLP Field
WestDenver BroncosDenver, COSports Authority Field at Mile High
Kansas City ChiefsKansas City, MOArrowhead Stadium
Oakland RaidersOakland, CAO.co Coliseum
San Diego ChargersSan Diego, CAQualcomm Stadium

Season structure

A sample scheduling grid, with a single team's (the Browns) schedule highlighted. Under this hypothetical schedule, the Browns would play the teams in blue twice and the teams in yellow once, for a total of 16 games.

Each AFC team plays the other teams in its division twice (home and away) during the regular season, in addition to 10 other games assigned to their schedule by the NFL the previous May. Two of these games are assigned on the basis of the team's final division standing in the previous season. The remaining 8 games are split between the roster of two other NFL divisions. This assignment shifts each year. For instance, in the 2007 regular season, each team in the AFC West played one game against each team in both the AFC South and the NFC North. In this way division competition consists of common opponents, with the exception of the 2 games assigned on the strength of each team's prior division standing. (i.e. the division winner will face the other two division winners in the AFC divisions that they are not scheduled to play) The NFC operates according to the same system.

At the end of each football season, there are playoff games involving the top six teams in the AFC (the four division champions by place standing and the top two remaining non-division-champion teams ("wild cards") by record). The last two teams remaining play in the AFC Championship game with the winner receiving the Lamar Hunt Trophy. The AFC champion plays the NFC champion in the Super Bowl. After Super Bowl XLVI the AFC has won 19 Super Bowls to the 24 won by the NFC. Since losing 13 consecutive Super Bowls in the 1980s and 1990s (XIXXXXI), the AFC has won 9 of the last 15. The coach of the team with the best record that lost in the AFC Divisional round is the coach of the Pro Bowl.

History

American Football Conference logo From 1970 to 2009

The AFC was created after the NFL merged with the American Football League (AFL) in 1970.[1] All of the 10 former AFL teams along with the NFL's Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, and the then-Baltimore Colts joined the AFC. The two AFL divisions AFL East and AFL West were more or less intact.

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.

Due to the relocation controversy of the Cleveland Browns, a new AFC franchise called the Baltimore Ravens was officially established in 1996 while the Browns were reactivated in 1999.

The Houston Texans were then added to the league in 2002, joining the AFC.

Between 2003 and 2012, the AFC had sent either the Indianapolis Colts, the New England Patriots, or the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Super Bowl, with two exceptions. In the 2002 NFL season, the Oakland Raiders lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII, and in the 2012 NFL season, the Baltimore Ravens prevailed over New England in the conference championship to reach Super Bowl XLVII. By contrast, the NFC sent a different team each year save for the 2011 NFL season, when the New York Giants made it to their second Super Bowl in that same time span, Super Bowl XLVI.

Original American Football Conference logo

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.[2]

Notes