The AFC was created when the AFL and NFL merged in 1970. All 10 members of the AFL were original members of the AFC, and the Baltimore Colts, Cleveland Browns, and Pittsburgh Steelers joined the conference too as the NFL had 16 teams prior to the merger. Since then, both conferences have added three teams, as the Seattle Seahawks moved to the NFC to accommodate the new realignment in 2002.
Betting on AFC Futures
The winner of the AFC Championship Game lays claim to the Lamar Hunt Trophy. The legendary Kansas City Chiefs owner was one of the original founders of the AFL, and he coined the term Super Bowl.
Kansas City has been to the last three AFC Championship Games under Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes came up short against New England in his first trip here, but he led the Chiefs to double-digit victories over Tennessee and Buffalo the last two years. He is clearly the best quarterback in the NFL, and Mahomes’ presence is why KC is now a perennial contender.
Due to their recent dominance, the New England Patriots have won the AFC Championship more often than any other team. This franchise had only accomplished the feat twice before Bill Belichick and Tom Brady arrived in Foxboro, but they have taken things to another level since 2000. New England has been to the AFC Championship Game a whopping 13 times in that stretch, posting a 9-4 record. The Patriots set an NFL record with eight straight trips to the AFC title game between 2011 and 2018.
Pittsburgh has the most AFC Championship Game appearances. Although the Steelers were largely a doormat for their first four decades as a franchise, they became the preeminent team in the 1970s and were the first team to win six Super Bowls. They have made it to the AFC Championship Game 16 times, splitting those games with eight wins and eight losses.
Buffalo is the only team to win four straight AFC Championship Games. The Bills outscored their opponents by a combined margin of 120-33 between 1990 and 1993, but they famously failed to win the Super Bowl.
AFC Championship Game Winners in the 21st Century
|2020||Kansas City Chiefs||Buffalo Bills|
|2019||Kansas City Chiefs||Tennessee Titans|
|2018||New England Patriots||Kansas City Chiefs|
|2017||New England Patriots||Jacksonville Jaguars|
|2016||New England Patriots||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|2015||Denver Broncos||New England Patriots|
|2014||New England Patriots||Indianapolis Colts|
|2013||Denver Broncos||New England Patriots|
|2012||Baltimore Ravens||New England Patriots|
|2011||New England Patriots||Baltimore Ravens|
|2010||Pittsburgh Steelers||New York Jets|
|2009||Indianapolis Colts||New York Jets|
|2008||Pittsburgh Steelers||Baltimore Ravens|
|2007||New England Patriots||San Diego Chargers|
|2006||Indianapolis Colts||New England Patriots|
|2005||Pittsburgh Steelers||Denver Broncos|
|2004||New England Patriots||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|2003||New England Patriots||Indianapolis Colts|
|2002||Oakland Raiders||Tennessee Titans|
|2001||New England Patriots||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|2000||Baltimore Ravens||Oakland Raiders|
Cincinnati has the longest active drought. The Bengals haven’t played in the AFC Championship Game since beating the Buffalo Bills 21-10 during the 1988 season. They haven’t won a playoff game since 1990 either.
The least successful franchise in the AFC Championship Game is the New York Jets. The Jets were the first AFL team to win the Super Bowl in 1968, but they have yet to return to football’s grandest stage. They are 0-4 here, and they have failed to score more than 20 points in any of their previous appearances, averaging 11.5 PPG.
The only team that has yet to make it to the AFC Championship Game is Houston. The old Houston Oilers did make it here, but the Texans were founded in 2002 as the league’s most recent team. Houston made it to the postseason six times in the 2010s, yet this team couldn’t get to the conference title game.