List of AFC champions

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John Elway was the first of two quarterbacks to lead five AFC Championship teams
Tom Brady has been the quarterback for five AFC championship teams, an NFL record shared by Hall of Fame Quarterback John Elway.

The American Football Conference (AFC) is one of two conferences within the National Football League, the National Football Conference (NFC) being the other. The AFC has its roots in the American Football League (AFL), which began to play in 1960. In 1970, the AFL merged with the NFL. As part of the merger, the former AFL teams, plus three former NFL teams (the Baltimore Colts, the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers), were placed into the AFC. The remaining former NFL teams were placed in the NFC.

Background[edit]

The AFL or AFC champion is not necessarily the team with the best record in the regular season. Rather, the champion is decided by the AFC Championship Game (formerly the AFL Championship Game) as part of the post-season playoffs involving the teams with the best regular season records. The Houston Oilers won the first two AFL championships, in 1960 and 1961.[1] The only other team to win two consecutive AFL championships prior to the merger was the Buffalo Bills, who won in 1964 and 1965 with future United States Congressman, HUD Secretary and Vice-Presidential nominee Jack Kemp at quarterback.[1][2] The first team to win three consecutive AFL or AFC championships was the Miami Dolphins in 1971 through 1973.[1] The only team to win four consecutive AFL or AFC championships was the Buffalo Bills in 1990 through 1993.[1]

Through the 2010 season, the most AFL or AFC championships won by any team is eight, by the Pittsburgh Steelers. The New England Patriots and Denver Broncos have each won seven AFC championships. The Buffalo Bills won six AFL or AFC championships and the Miami Dolphins and Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders have each won five AFL or AFC championships.[1] The Raiders have also been the AFL or AFC runner up, as a result of losing the AFL or AFC Championship Game, a record nine times.[3] The Steelers and Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers have each been the runner up seven times.[4][5]

The record for the most regular season wins by an AFL or AFC champion is 16, by the 2007 New England Patriots, with a perfect 16–0 record. No AFL or AFC champion has won exactly 15 games. Seven AFL or AFC champions have won 14 games, including three Miami Dolphins teams. Six of the teams that won 14 games did so in a 16 game season. Only the 1972 Miami Dolphins won 14 games in a 14 game season, with their perfect 14–0 record.[1]

Bill Belichick has won five AFC Championships as a head coach.

Don Shula was the head coach for five AFL or AFC championship teams, more than any other head coach. Shula coached the Miami Dolphins to AFC championships in 1971, 1972, 1973, 1982 and 1984.[6] Chuck Noll, Marv Levy and Bill Belichick each coached four AFC champions.[4][7][8] Hank Stram and Dan Reeves each coached three AFL or AFC champions.[9][10]

John Elway and Tom Brady have been the starting quarterback for five AFL or AFC championship teams, more tham any other quarterback. Elway was the starring quarterback for the 1986, 1987, 1989, 1997 and 1998 Denver Broncos.[10] Tom Brady was the starting quarterback for the 2001, 2003, 2004, 2007 and 2011 New England Patriots.[8] Terry Bradshaw and Jim Kelly were each the starting quarterback for four AFC champions.[4][7]

Franco Harris and Thurman Thomas were each the leader in rushing yards for an AFC champion four times.[4][7] Larry Csonka was the leader in rushing yards for an AFC champion three times.[6] Andre Reed was the leader in receiving yards for an AFC champion four times.[7] Paul Warfield was the leader in receiving yards for an AFC champion three times.[6]

The 1973 Miami Dolphins had seven first team All-Pros, more than any other AFC champion since the NFC/AFC merger. The 1971 Miami Dolphins, 1979 Pittsburgh Steelers and 2007 New England Patriots each had five 1st team All-Pros. The 1970 Baltimore Colts, 1982 Miami Dolphins, 1987 Denver Broncos and 1996 and 2001 New England Patriots did not have any 1st team All-Pros. Jack Ham is the only defensive player to be named as a 1st team All-Pro for four AFC champions. Ham was a 1st team All-Pro for the 1974, 1975, 1978 and 1979 Pittsburgh Steelers. Larry Little is the only offensive lineman to be named as a 1st team All-Pro for three AFC champions, the 1971–1973 Miami Dolphins. Garo Yepremian is the only kicker to be named as a 1st team All-Pro for two AFC champions, the 1971 and 1973 Miami Dolphins.

At the end of the 1966 season, the Super Bowl began to be played between the AFL champion and the NFL champion. After the AFL/NFL merger in 1970, the Super Bowl continued to be played between the AFC champion and the NFC champion. The AFL champion lost the first two Super Bowls. The 1968 AFL champion New York Jets with Joe Namath at quarterback became the first AFL team to win the Super Bowl. Starting with that Super Bowl, the AFL or AFC champion won 11 out of 13 Super Bowls. However, the AFC champion lost 13 consecutive Super Bowls, from the 1984 AFC champion Miami Dolphins through the 1996 AFC champion New England Patriots. Overall, the AFL or AFC champion has won 21 of the 45 Super Bowls played through the end of the 2009 season.[1]

Key[edit]

Joe Namath was the quarterback for the 1968 AFL champion New York Jets, the first AFL team to win the Super Bowl.
Season Each year is linked to an article about that particular AFL or NFL season.
Team Name of AFL or AFC Championship team, linked to the team's championship season
Record Championship team's regular season record wins–losses; if the team played any tie games the record is shown as wins–losses–ties
Head Coach Championship team's head coach; if the team had multiple head coaces for the season they are shown in decreasing order of number of regular season wins
Quarterback Name of quarterback with most passing attempts for the AFL/AFC champion during the regular season
Leading Rusher Name of player with most rushing yards for the AFL/AFC champion during the regular season
Leading Receiver Name of player with most receiving yards for the AFL/AFC champion during the regular season
All-Pros List of All-Pros on that season's AFL/AFC champion
Runner Up Name of team that lost the AFL or AFC Championship Game
Super Bowl Champion
* Member of Pro Football Hall of Fame

AFL/AFC Championship Teams[edit]

Season Team Record Head Coach Quarterback Leading Rusher Leading Receiver All-Pros Runner Up Reference
1960 Houston Oilers 10–4 Rymkus, LouLou Rymkus Blanda, GeorgeGeorge Blanda* Cannon, BillyBilly Cannon Groman, BillBill Groman Jamison, Johnston, Smith Los Angeles Chargers [11]
1961 Houston Oilers 10–3–1 Lemm, WallyWally Lemm,
Lou Rymkus[a]
Blanda, GeorgeGeorge Blanda* Cannon, BillyBilly Cannon Hennigan, CharleyCharley Hennigan Banfield, Blanda*, Cannon, Groman, Hennigan, Jamison San Diego Chargers [12]
1962 Dallas Texans 11–3 Stram, HankHank Stram* Dawson, LenLen Dawson* Haynes, AbnerAbner Haynes Burford, ChrisChris Burford Burford, Dawson*, Hayes, Headrick, Holub, Hunt Houston Oilers [13]
1963 San Diego Chargers 12–2 Gillman, SidSid Gillman* Rote, TobinTobin Rote Lowe, PaulPaul Lowe Alworth, LanceLance Alworth* Alworth*, Faison, Lincoln, Mix*, Rote Boston Patriots [14]
1964 Buffalo Bills 12–2 Saban, LouLou Saban Kemp, JackJack Kemp Gilchrist, CookieCookie Gilchrist Dubenion, ElbertElbert Dubenion Barber, Gilchrist, Saimes, Sestak, Shaw*, Stratton San Diego Chargers [15]
1965 Buffalo Bills 10–3–1 Saban, LouLou Saban Kemp, JackJack Kemp Carlton, WrayWray Carlton Roberson, BoBo Roberson Byrd, Kemp, Saimes, Sestak, Shaw*, Stratton San Diego Chargers [16]
1966 Kansas City Chiefs 11–2–1 Stram, HankHank Stram* Dawson, LenLen Dawson* Garrett, MikeMike Garrett Taylor, OtisOtis Taylor Arbanas, Bell*, Buchanan*, Budde, Dawson*, Mays, Robinson, Taylor, Tyrer Buffalo Bills [17]
1967 Oakland Raiders 13–1 Rauch, JohnJohn Rauch Lamonica, DaryleDaryle Lamonica Dixon, HewrittHewritt Dixon Biletnikoff, FredFred Biletnikoff* Davidson, Keating, Lamonica, McCloughan, Otto* Houston Oilers [18]
1968 New York Jets 11–3 Ewbank, WeebWeeb Ewbank* Namath, JoeJoe Namath* Snell, MattMatt Snell Maynard, DonDon Maynard* Namath*, Philbin, Sauer Oakland Raiders [19]
1969 Kansas City Chiefs 11–3 Stram, HankHank Stram* Dawson, LenLen Dawson* Garrett, MikeMike Garrett Taylor, OtisOtis Taylor Bell*, Buchanan*, Budde, Robinson, Tyrer Oakland Raiders [20]
1970 Baltimore Colts 11–2–1 McCafferty, DonDon McCafferty Unitas, JohnnyJohnny Unitas* Bulaich, NormNorm Bulaich Jefferson, RoyRoy Jefferson none Oakland Raiders [21]
1971 Miami Dolphins 10–3–1 Shula, DonDon Shula* Griese, BobBob Griese* Csonka, LarryLarry Csonka* Warfield, PaulPaul Warfield* Csonka*, Griese*, Little*, Warfield*, Yepremian Baltimore Colts [22]
1972 Miami Dolphins 14–0 Shula, DonDon Shula* Morrall, EarlEarl Morrall[b] Csonka, LarryLarry Csonka* Warfield, PaulPaul Warfield* Anderson, Little*, Morrall, Stanfill Pittsburgh Steelers [23]
1973 Miami Dolphins 12–2 Shula, DonDon Shula* Griese, BobBob Griese* Csonka, LarryLarry Csonka* Warfield, PaulPaul Warfield* Anderson, Csonka*, Langer*, Little*, Scott, Warfield*, Yepremian Oakland Raiders [24]
1974 Pittsburgh Steelers 10–3–1 Noll, ChuckChuck Noll* Bradshaw, TerryTerry Bradshaw* Harris, FrancoFranco Harris* Lewis, FrankFrank Lewis Greene*, Greenwood, Ham* Oakland Raiders [25]
1975 Pittsburgh Steelers 12–2 Noll, ChuckChuck Noll* Bradshaw, TerryTerry Bradshaw* Harris, FrancoFranco Harris* Swann, LynnLynn Swann* Blount*, Greenwood, Ham* Oakland Raiders [26]
1976 Oakland Raiders 13–1 Madden, JohnJohn Madden* Stabler, KenKen Stabler van Eeghen, MarkMark van Eeghen Branch, CliffCliff Branch Branch, Casper*, Guy* Pittsburgh Steelers [27]
1977 Denver Broncos 12–2 Miller, RedRed Miller Morton, CraigCraig Morton Armstrong, OtisOtis Armstrong Moses, HavenHaven Moses Alzado, Gradishar, Jackson, Thompson Oakland Raiders [28]
1978 Pittsburgh Steelers 14–2 Noll, ChuckChuck Noll* Bradshaw, TerryTerry Bradshaw* Harris, FrancoFranco Harris* Swann, LynnLynn Swann* Bradshaw*, Ham*, Swann*, Webster* Houston Oilers [29]
1979 Pittsburgh Steelers 12–4 Noll, ChuckChuck Noll* Bradshaw, TerryTerry Bradshaw* Harris, FrancoFranco Harris* Stallworth, JohnJohn Stallworth* Ham*, Lambert*, Shell, Stallworth*, Webster* Houston Oilers [30]
1980 Oakland Raiders 11–5 Flores, TomTom Flores Plunkett, JimJim Plunkett van Eeghen, MarkMark van Eeghen Branch, CliffCliff Branch Hayes, Hendricks* San Diego Chargers [31]
1981 Cincinnati Bengals 12–4 Gregg, ForrestForrest Gregg* Anderson, KenKen Anderson Johnson, PetePete Johnson Collinsworth, CrisCris Collinsworth Anderson, McInally, Munoz* San Diego Chargers [32]
1982 Miami Dolphins 7–2 Shula, DonDon Shula* Woodley, DavidDavid Woodley Franklin, AndraAndra Franklin Cefalo, JimmyJimmy Cefalo none New York Jets [33]
1983 Los Angeles Raiders 12–4 Flores, TomTom Flores Plunkett, JimJim Plunkett Allen, MarcusMarcus Allen* Christensen, ToddTodd Christensen Christensen Seattle Seahawks [34]
1984 Miami Dolphins 14–2 Shula, DonDon Shula* Marino, DanDan Marino* Bennett, WoodyWoody Bennett Clayton, MarkMark Clayton Marino*, Newman, Roby, Stephenson* Pittsburgh Steelers [35]
1985 New England Patriots 11–5 Berry, RaymondRaymond Berry* Eason, TonyTony Eason James, CraigCraig James Morgan, StanleyStanley Morgan Hannah*, Tippett* Miami Dolphins [36]
1986 Denver Broncos 11–5 Reeves, DanDan Reeves Elway, JohnJohn Elway* Winder, SammySammy Winder Jackson, MarkMark Jackson Jones, Mecklenburg Cleveland Browns [37]
1987 Denver Broncos 10–4–1 Reeves, DanDan Reeves Elway, JohnJohn Elway* Winder, SammySammy Winder Johnson, VanceVance Johnson none Cleveland Browns [38]
1988 Cincinnati Bengals 12–4 Wyche, SamSam Wyche Esiason, BoomerBoomer Esiason Woods, IckeyIckey Woods Brown, EddieEddie Brown Esiason, Krumrie, Munoz* Buffalo Bills [39]
1989 Denver Broncos 11–5 Reeves, DanDan Reeves Elway, JohnJohn Elway* Humphrey, BobbyBobby Humphrey Johnson, VanceVance Johnson Mecklenburg Cleveland Browns [40]
1990 Buffalo Bills 13–3 Levy, MarvMarv Levy* Kelly, JimJim Kelly* Thomas, ThurmanThurman Thomas* Reed, AndreAndre Reed* Hull, Smith*, Thomas* Los Angeles Raiders [41]
1991 Buffalo Bills 13–3 Levy, MarvMarv Levy* Kelly, JimJim Kelly* Thomas, ThurmanThurman Thomas* Reed, AndreAndre Reed* Hull, Kelly*, Thomas* Denver Broncos [42]
1992 Buffalo Bills 11–5 Levy, MarvMarv Levy* Kelly, JimJim Kelly* Thomas, ThurmanThurman Thomas* Reed, AndreAndre Reed* Jones Miami Dolphins [43]
1993 Buffalo Bills 12–4 Levy, MarvMarv Levy* Kelly, JimJim Kelly* Thomas, ThurmanThurman Thomas* Reed, AndreAndre Reed* Smith* Kansas City Chiefs [44]
1994 San Diego Chargers 11–5 Ross, BobbyBobby Ross Humphries, StanStan Humphries Means, NatroneNatrone Means Martin, TonyTony Martin Carney, Seau Pittsburgh Steelers [45]
1995 Pittsburgh Steelers 11–5 Cowher, BillBill Cowher O'Donnell, NeilNeil O'Donnell Pegram, ErricErric Pegram Thigpen, YanceyYancey Thigpen Dawson*, Lloyd Indianapolis Colts [46]
1996 New England Patriots 11–5 Parcells, BillBill Parcells* Bledsoe, DrewDrew Bledsoe Martin, CurtisCurtis Martin* Glenn, TerryTerry Glenn none Jacksonville Jaguars [47]
1997 Denver Broncos 12–4 Shanahan, MikeMike Shanahan Elway, JohnJohn Elway* Davis, TerrellTerrell Davis Smith, RodRod Smith Davis, Mobley, Sharpe* Pittsburgh Steelers [48]
1998 Denver Broncos 14–2 Shanahan, MikeMike Shanahan Elway, JohnJohn Elway* Davis, TerrellTerrell Davis Smith, RodRod Smith Davis, Sharpe* New York Jets [49]
1999 Tennessee Titans 13–3 Fisher, JeffJeff Fisher McNair, SteveSteve McNair George, EddieEddie George Dyson, KevinKevin Dyson Kearse, Matthews* Jacksonville Jaguars [50]
2000 Baltimore Ravens 12–4 Billick, BrianBrian Billick Banks, TonyTony Banks[c] Lewis, JamalJamal Lewis Sharpe, ShannonShannon Sharpe* Lewis, Ogden Oakland Raiders [51]
2001 New England Patriots 11–5 Belichick, BillBill Belichick Brady, TomTom Brady Smith, AntowainAntowain Smith Brown, TroyTroy Brown none Pittsburgh Steelers [52]
2002 Oakland Raiders 11–5 Callahan, BillBill Callahan Gannon, RichRich Gannon Garner, CharlieCharlie Garner Rice, JerryJerry Rice* Gannon, Kennedy, Robbins, Woodson Tennessee Titans [53]
2003 New England Patriots 14–2 Belichick, BillBill Belichick Brady, TomTom Brady Smith, AntowainAntowain Smith Branch, DeionDeion Branch Harrison, Law, Seymour Indianapolis Colts [54]
2004 New England Patriots 14–2 Belichick, BillBill Belichick Brady, TomTom Brady Dillon, CoreyCorey Dillon Givens, DavidDavid Givens Seymour, Vinatieri Pittsburgh Steelers [55]
2005 Pittsburgh Steelers 11–5 Cowher, BillBill Cowher Roethlisberger, BenBen Roethlisberger Parker, WillieWillie Parker Ward, HinesHines Ward Faneca, Polamalu Denver Broncos [56]
2006 Indianapolis Colts 12–4 Dungy, TonyTony Dungy Manning, PeytonPeyton Manning Addai, JosephJoseph Addai Harrison, MarvinMarvin Harrison Harrison New England Patriots [57]
2007 New England Patriots 16–0 Belichick, BillBill Belichick Brady, TomTom Brady Maroney, LaurenceLaurence Maroney Moss, RandyRandy Moss Brady, Light, Moss, Samuel, Vrabel San Diego Chargers [58]
2008 Pittsburgh Steelers 12–4 Tomlin, MikeMike Tomlin Roethlisberger, BenBen Roethlisberger Parker, WillieWillie Parker Ward, HinesHines Ward Harrison, Polamalu Baltimore Ravens [59]
2009 Indianapolis Colts 14–2 Caldwell, JimJim Caldwell Manning, PeytonPeyton Manning Addai, JosephJoseph Addai Wayne, ReggieReggie Wayne Manning, Clark, Freeney New York Jets [60]
2010 Pittsburgh Steelers 12–4 Tomlin, MikeMike Tomlin Roethlisberger, BenBen Roethlisberger Mendenhall, RashardRashard Mendenhall Wallace, MikeMike Wallace Harrison, Polamalu, Pouncey New York Jets [61]
2011 New England Patriots 13–3 Belichick, BillBill Belichick Brady, TomTom Brady Green-Ellis, BenJarvusBenJarvus Green-Ellis Welker, WesWes Welker Gronkowski, Mankins, Welker, Wilfork Baltimore Ravens [62]
2012 Baltimore Ravens 10–6 Harbaugh, JohnJohn Harbaugh Flacco, JoeJoe Flacco Rice, RayRay Rice Boldin, AnquanAnquan Boldin Jones, Leach New England Patriots [63]
2013 Denver Broncos 13–3 Fox, JohnJohn Fox Manning, PeytonPeyton Manning Moreno, KnowshonKnowshon Moreno Thomas, DemaryiusDemaryius Thomas Manning, Thomas, Vasquez, Prater New England Patriots [64]

Footnotes[edit]

  • a Lou Rymkus began the 1961 season as the Houston Oilers' head coach. After the Oilers started the season with a 1–3–1 record, Wally Lemm took over as head coach. The Oilers won all nine games with Lemm as their head coach and went on to win the 1961 AFL Championship Game.[12]
  • b Bob Griese began the 1972 season as the Miami Dolphins' starting quarterback. After Griese suffered an ankle injury in the 5th game of the season, Morrall became the starting quarterback for the remainder of the season and ended the season with more passing attempts than Griese. Morrall started the AFC Championship game, but Griese replaced him with the Dolphins behind in the second half and led the Dolphins to the victory. Griese then started Super Bowl VII.[23][65][66][67]
  • c Tony Banks and Trent Dilfer each started 8 games for the 2000 Baltimore Ravens. Banks is listed here because had 274 passing attempts and Dilfer had 226. But Dilfer was the starting quarterback in the AFC Championship game and in Super Bowl XXXV.[51][68][69]

References[edit]

General
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