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History of the American Football Conference

The American Football Conference (AFC) is one of the two conferences in the National Football League (NFL), alongside the National Football Conference (NFC). It was established in 1970 as a result of the AFL-NFL merger. Prior to the merger, there were two separate leagues: the NFL and the American Football League (AFL).

The AFL was founded in 1959 as a rival to the well-established NFL. It quickly gained popularity and posed a significant threat to the NFL’s dominance. The AFL was known for its high-scoring, exciting games, which attracted a younger audience and innovative marketing strategies.

In 1966, the two leagues agreed to a merger that would take effect in 1970. The AFL teams would join the NFL, forming two conferences: the AFC and the NFC. The resulting merger established the Super Bowl as the championship game between the two conferences.

The AFC initially consisted of ten teams: the Boston Patriots (now New England Patriots), Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Houston Oilers (now Tennessee Titans), Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders (now Las Vegas Raiders), and San Diego Chargers (now Los Angeles Chargers). The Baltimore Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers would later move from the NFL to the AFC, while the Cleveland Browns would be added as an expansion team.

During the early years of the AFC, the dominant teams were the Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Oakland Raiders. The Dolphins, led by quarterback Bob Griese and coach Don Shula, had a perfect season in 1972, winning all 14 regular-season games and two playoff games to become Super Bowl champions.

The Steelers, under the leadership of coach Chuck Noll and a dominant defense known as the “Steel Curtain,” won four Super Bowls in the 1970s, becoming the first team to win back-to-back championships twice.

The Raiders, known for their “Commitment to Excellence,” had success in the 1970s and 1980s, winning three Super Bowls and boasting star players such as quarterback Ken Stabler and wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff.

In recent decades, the AFC has seen various teams rise to prominence. The New England Patriots, led by coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, have been the most successful team, winning six Super Bowls since 2001. Other notable teams include the Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, and Pittsburgh Steelers, who have all enjoyed multiple Super Bowl victories.

Today, the AFC consists of 16 teams, divided into four divisions: East, North, South, and West. The conference continues to be a powerhouse in the NFL, producing consistently competitive teams and exciting matchups..

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