AFC VS NFC – The Differences Between Them In American Football

Last Updated on October 15, 2023 by Alex PT

The AFC and NFC are the two conferences in the NFL. The main difference is the teams, with the AFC consisting of former AFL teams and the NFC consisting of the remaining NFL teams. Each conference has its own playoffs, with the top seed getting a first-round bye and the winners of the conference championships advancing to the Super Bowl.

Comparison Table for NFC vs AFC

Number of Teams16 teams, 4 divisions16 teams, 4 divisions
Historical DominancePeriods of dominance by teams like San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay PackersCompetitive balance with multiple teams achieving success; e.g., New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers
Quarterback LegacyProduced legendary quarterbacks like Joe Montana, Brett Favre, and Troy AikmanKnown for legendary quarterbacks such as Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Ben Roethlisberger
Recent DominanceRecent success by teams like San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, and New Orleans SaintsCompetitive in recent years with strong teams like Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens, and Buffalo Bills
Super Bowl SuccessNFC teams have a rich history of Super Bowl victoriesAFC teams have collectively won numerous Super Bowls
Interconference PlayTeams face AFC opponents in interconference games during the regular seasonRegular interconference matchups provide opportunities for cross-conference play
Super Bowl ClashNFC and AFC champions meet in the Super Bowl to determine the NFL championThe Super Bowl showcases the best of both conferences
Team IdentitiesTeams often have unique cultures and styles influenced by regional factors and historical rivalriesTeam philosophies and identities shaped by tradition and regional influence
CompetitionBoth conferences are highly competitive, with team performances varying from season to seasonThe NFL’s hallmark is intense competition and unpredictability

Brief History Of The AFC, NFC, And NFL

Brief History Of The AFC NFC And NFL

In 1970, the merger of two football leagues (National Football League and American Football League) lead to the creation of NFC and AFC. A group of expansion team owners who had been denied entrance into the NFL decided to establish the AFL in 1959. However, the NFL has been in existence since 1920. Before the merger, these two leagues had been direct rivals for more than 10 years. It was the merger that brought about the split of the unified National Football League into two major conferences. Right after the merger, the AFC monopolized the Super Bowl wins throughout the 1970#s. However, the NFC became the dominant conference of consecutive Super Bowls throughout the 1989s and mid-1990s.

Differences Between NFC And AFC

Differences Between NFC And AFC


NFC is one of the two conferences of the National Football League, which was established in 1970. At its beginning, only 16 teams participated in the conference and they are subdivided into four divisions. San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams, Arizona Cardinals, and Seattle Seahawks are the teams representing the west division. Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, and New York Giants represent the east division. Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Atlanta Falcon represent the south division. And lastly, the team that represents the north division are Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, Chicago Bears, and Detroit Lions. 


Just like NFC, the teams are divided into four divisions. The four teams that represent the west division are Las Vegas Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos, and Los Angeles Chargers. The teams that represent the east division are New England Patriots, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, and Miami Dolphins. Similarly, four teams represent the north division, and they include Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, and Pittsburgh Steelers. And lastly, the four teams that represent the south are   Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts, Houston, Texans, and Tennessee Titans. 

Major Difference Between AFC And NFC

1. The most valuable team in NFC is Dallas Cowboys while New England Patriot remains the one for AFC 

2. The team with the most titles in NFC is Dallas Cowboys while in AFC is New England Patriot

3. NFC was established in 1920, while AFC was founded in 1959

4. NFC has 27 super bowl championships while AFC has 25 super bowl championships

5. The recent title champions in NFC is Philadelphia Eagles (3rd title), while in AFC is Kansas City Chiefs (2nd Title). 

Similarities Between AFC And NFC

1. Both conferences depend on the salary cap

2. These two conferences are in the American Football League

3. The two conferences have sixteen teams

4. They both have four divisions

5. Both divisions are not opposing geographical areas

The Table Below Contains The Major Differences Between NFC And AFC. 

Full formAmerican Football ConferenceNational Football Conference
East Division teamsNew York Jets, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, and New England PatriotsWashington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, and Dallas Cowboys
North Division teamsCleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Baltimore RavensDetroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, and Green Bay Packers
South Division teamsIndianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans, and Jacksonville JaguarsCarolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons, and New Orleans Saints
West Division teamsKansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Denver Broncos, and Las Vegas RaidersLos Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, and San Francisco 49ers
TrophyLamar Hunt TrophyGeorge S. Halas Trophy

How American Football is Organized

American football is organized at various levels, primarily focusing on the National Football League (NFL), collegiate football, and youth levels:

  1. National Football League (NFL):
    • The NFL is the highest professional football league in the United States, consisting of 32 teams.
    • Teams are divided into two conferences: the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC), each with four divisions.
    • The NFL season typically runs from September to February, culminating in the Super Bowl, the championship game.
    • Teams play a 17-game regular season, followed by playoffs leading to the Super Bowl.
  2. Collegiate Football:
    • College football is organized by the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) into different divisions, including Division I, II, and III.
    • Division I is further divided into the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
    • FBS teams compete in high-profile bowl games, and a College Football Playoff determines the national champion.
    • FCS teams compete in a playoff system to determine their national champion.
    • College football has a regular season, bowl games, and various championship games.
  3. High School Football:
    • High school football is organized at the state level, with various governing bodies and associations overseeing the sport.
    • Teams compete in regular-season games and often have playoffs leading to state championships.
  4. Youth Football:
    • Youth football is typically organized by local leagues, schools, or community organizations.
    • Young players are grouped by age, with leagues emphasizing skill development, safety, and sportsmanship.
  5. Amateur and Semi-Pro Leagues:
    • Beyond high school, there are various amateur and semi-pro football leagues catering to players of all ages who wish to continue playing after college.
  6. International Play:
    • American football is also played at the international level, with countries participating in competitions like the IFAF World Championship and American football leagues in Europe.
  7. Women’s Football:
    • Women’s football has gained popularity, with various leagues and organizations promoting the sport.
  8. Youth Development and Safety:
    • At all levels, efforts are made to promote player safety through rule changes, equipment improvements, and concussion protocols.
    • Youth development programs aim to teach fundamental skills and values, emphasizing character and sportsmanship.

What’s The Difference Between The NFL And The NFC?

What’s The Difference Between The NFL And The NFC

The NFL is made up of the National Football Conference and American Football Conference. NFC teams have 24 wins while AFC teams have 20 Super Bowl wins ever since the NFL was established in 1979. 

Comparison of Teams within AFC and NFC

The AFC (American Football Conference) and NFC (National Football Conference) are two conferences within the NFL (National Football League). Here’s a detailed comparison of these two conferences:

AFC (American Football Conference):

  1. Team Alignment: The AFC comprises 16 teams, which are further divided into four divisions: North, South, East, and West.
  2. Historical Dominance: Historically, the AFC has been characterized by competitive balance, with multiple teams achieving success over the years. Teams like the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Denver Broncos have been dominant.
  3. Quarterback Talent: The AFC has seen the rise of many legendary quarterbacks, including Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Ben Roethlisberger.
  4. Recent Dominance: In recent years, the AFC has been particularly competitive, with teams like the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens, and Buffalo Bills emerging as strong contenders.
  5. Super Bowl Success: AFC teams have collectively won numerous Super Bowls, with a strong presence in the league’s championship history.

NFC (National Football Conference):

  1. Team Alignment: The NFC also comprises 16 teams, divided into four divisions: North, South, East, and West.
  2. Historical Dominance: The NFC has had periods of dominance by certain teams, including the San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, and Green Bay Packers.
  3. Quarterback Talent: The NFC has seen its share of legendary quarterbacks, such as Joe Montana, Brett Favre, and Troy Aikman.
  4. Recent Dominance: In recent years, the NFC has been competitive, with teams like the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, and New Orleans Saints performing well.
  5. Super Bowl Success: NFC teams have also claimed numerous Super Bowl championships, contributing to the conference’s rich history.

Conference Dynamics:

  1. Competition: Both conferences are highly competitive, and team performances can vary from season to season. The level of competition is a hallmark of the NFL.
  2. Interconference Play: Teams from the AFC and NFC regularly face each other in interconference games during the regular season. These games provide opportunities for cross-conference matchups and rivalry games.
  3. Super Bowl: The AFC and NFC champions meet in the Super Bowl to compete for the NFL championship, showcasing the best of both conferences.
  4. Team Identities: Each conference has its own unique culture and style of play. These distinctions are shaped by historical rivalries, team philosophies, and regional influences.

How Is NFL Different From the AFL?

The AFL is usually used to denote indoor American football while the NFL is the popular outdoor American football. In the NFL games, most teams that win usually use a strategy where defense is employed. However, AFL games are kind of fast, and higher scores win the championship.

Are The 49ers NFC Or AFC?

In the National Football League, the National Football Conference has four divisions including the NFC West or the National Football Conference Western Division. The San Francisco 49ers are of members of the Los Angeles Rams, the Seattle Seahawks, and the Arizona Cardinals. 

Which Came First NFC Or AFC? 

These two conferences were created at the time of the merger in 1970 having been competitors for years. The 10 former AFL teams merged with the there NFL teams to form the AFC, while the 13 NFL teams formed the NFC. 

Closing Thoughts 

American football has its fans across the world who follow the game every weekend, and the NFL still remains the most popular football league in North America and the rest of the world. As we said earlier, it was in the 197 that AFC and NFC merged with the NFL, and ever since each AFC and NFC teams play to represent their cities and states. We’ve reached the closing chapter of this informative article. We hope you were able to find good resources in your quest to know the differences between an NFC. If you have any questions or comments about the article topic, don’t hesitate to contact us. Thanks!


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