Difference between the AFC and the NFC

Updated on March 13, 2017

Super Bowl is one the most awaited annual sporting events in the United States. Two teams from each of the major conferences (AFC and NFC) of the National Football League go head to head to claim the Super Bowl championship title. Let’s see how these two major divisions of the NFL stack up against each other.


The 16 teams in the AFC

The AFC, or American Football Conference, forms part of the two premiere conferences competing in the National Football League (NFL). To date, the AFC is comprised of 16 teams which make half of the 32 competitive teams in the NFL. The conference was established in 1970 as the National Football League merged with the American Football League. The merger gave rise to the AFC and was given thirteen teams for its roster. After several league expansions and realignments, the AFC now has 16 teams. These teams play each other until one team wins the conference title. The conference champion then heads on to the Super Bowl to represent the AFC in the championship game.

With eight conference titles, the New England Patriots currently leads all teams in their division. In addition, their Super Bowl LI victory made them the AFC team with the highest number of Super Bowl wins. The Patriots hold the NFL record for the highest number of Super Bowl berths.

The AFC is currently composed of four sub-divisions with four teams per group. For the AFC East, it is the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, and New England Patriots. The Northern division includes the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals. The AFC Southern division has the Tennessee Titans Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, and Jacksonville Jaguars. The Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, and Los Angeles Chargers complete the line-up for AFC West.

The football clubs of the National Football Conference

The NFC, or the National Football Conference, forms the other half of the NFL, which is the highest professional football association in the US. This conference currently has 16 football teams which is half of all the teams in the NFL. The NFC, along with the AFC, was created in 1970 during the merger of the National Football League and the American Football League. Thirteen teams from pre-merger NFL became the first football clubs of the NFC. Several league expansions after the merger, the NFC now has 16 football teams.

The Dallas Cowboys has won the most titles in the NFC since the 1970 merger, including the most Super Bowl appearances while the Atlanta Falcons were the division champions in 2016.

The National Football Conference is made up of four divisions composed of four teams each. The NFC East line-up includes has the New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, and Philadelphia Eagles. The AFC North is currently composed of the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, and Chicago Bears. South AFC’s line-up includes the New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, Tampa Buccaneers, and Atlanta Falcons. These NFC teams compete to become conference champions to face the dominant team in the AFC in the Super Bowl. The overall winner is then declared the champ of the NFL.


So what’s the difference between the AFC and the NFC? In terms of number of teams, salary caps, and regulations to ensure a level playing field, there are no significant differences between the conferences. The AFC and NFC are products of the merger between the National Football League and the American Football League.

The AFC currently has won 25 Super Bowl championships, the last of which was courtesy of Super Bowl LI champions, the New England Patriots. The NFC leads with 26 Super Bowl titles, with the last win from the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII. The NFC is also considered to have a longer history than the AFC as the former is composed of teams from the original NFL.

Comparison Chart

Composed of 16 teams such as the Houston Texans, New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, etc.Composed of 16 teams such as the Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, and more
Has won 25 Super Bowl championshipsHas won 26 Super Bowl championships
Has the team with the highest number of Super Bowl appearances (Patriots)Has the team with the highest number of Super Bowl titles (Steelers)