American Football Conference

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American Football Conference
American Football Conference logo.svg
American Football Conference logo (2010–present)
League National Football League
Sport American football
Formerly American Football League (AFL)
Founded 1970
Teams
No. of teams 16
Championships
Most recent American Football Conference champion(s) Denver Broncos
(8th title)
Most American Football Conference titles Pittsburgh Steelers
New England Patriots
Denver Broncos
(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. 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 16 clubs per each conference.

Since the 1970 AFL–NFL merger, the Denver Broncos, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the New England Patriots are tied for the most AFC titles, with eight each. The current AFC title holder is Denver.

Current teams[edit]

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

Division Team City/Town Stadium
East Buffalo Bills Orchard Park, NY New Era Field
Miami Dolphins Miami Gardens, FL Hard Rock Stadium
New England Patriots Foxborough, MA Gillette Stadium
New York Jets East Rutherford, NJ MetLife Stadium
North Baltimore Ravens Baltimore, MD M&T Bank Stadium
Cincinnati Bengals Cincinnati, OH Paul Brown Stadium
Cleveland Browns Cleveland, OH FirstEnergy Stadium
Pittsburgh Steelers Pittsburgh, PA Heinz Field
South Houston Texans Houston, TX NRG Stadium
Indianapolis Colts Indianapolis, IN Lucas Oil Stadium
Jacksonville Jaguars Jacksonville, FL EverBank Field
Tennessee Titans Nashville, TN Nissan Stadium
West Denver Broncos Denver, CO Sports Authority Field at Mile High
Kansas City Chiefs Kansas City, MO Arrowhead Stadium
Oakland Raiders Oakland, CA Oakland Coliseum
San Diego Chargers San Diego, CA Qualcomm Stadium

Season structure[edit]

POS AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West
1st Patriots Bengals Texans Broncos
2nd Jets Steelers Colts Chiefs
3rd Bills Ravens Jaguars Raiders
4th Dolphins Browns Titans Chargers
POS NFC East NFC North NFC South NFC West
1st Redskins Vikings Panthers Cardinals
2nd Eagles Packers Falcons Seahawks
3rd Giants Lions Saints Rams
4th Cowboys Bears Buccaneers 49ers
This chart of the 2015 season standings displays an application of the NFL scheduling formula. The Broncos in 2015 (highlighted in green) finished in first place in the AFC West. Thus, in 2016, the Broncos will play two games against each of its division rivals (highlighted in light blue), one game against each team in the AFC South and NFC South (highlighted in yellow), and one game each against the first-place finishers in the AFC East and AFC North (highlighted in orange).

Currently, the thirteen opponents each team faces over the 16-game regular season schedule are set using a pre-determined formula:[1]

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 top six teams in the conference proceeds into the playoff. These teams consist of the four division winners and the top two wild card teams. 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[edit]

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.[2] 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 Century Division, in which the Browns and the Steelers had played since 1967, was moved from the NFL to become the new AFC Central.

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 2000 and 2015, the AFC had sent either the Baltimore Ravens (2 times), the Denver Broncos (2 times), the Indianapolis Colts (2 times), the Oakland Raiders (1 time), the New England Patriots (6 times), and the Pittsburgh Steelers (3 times) to the Super Bowl. By contrast, the NFC has sent 11 different teams during that same time frame.

[edit]

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.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "2012 Opponents Determined" (PDF). NFL. January 2, 2012. Retrieved January 23, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Pro Football – History". Retrieved 3 April 2009. 
  3. ^ Paul Lukas. "But I Absolutely Refuse to Write About the Draft Caps". Uni Watch blog. Archived from the original on 6 May 2010. Retrieved 16 April 2010.