AFC Futures

By Betmaker Team

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.
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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
Year Winner Loser
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
There are four teams in the conference that have yet to win the AFC Championship Game. Jacksonville and Cleveland are both 0-3 at this stage. The Jaguars made it here twice in their first five years, but they couldn’t get past New England in 1996 and lost to Tennessee for the third time during the 1999 season. The Browns have not made it here since the 1980s when they lost to the Denver Broncos in 1986, 1987, and 1989.

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.