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AFC vs. NFC: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 2, 2023
AFC (American Football Conference) and NFC (National Football Conference) are two conferences within the NFL, each consisting of 16 professional football teams.

Key Differences

The AFC, or American Football Conference, represents one half of the NFL, with its origins traced back to the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. On the other side, the NFC, or National Football Conference, represents the other half, primarily forming from the original NFL before the merger. Both the AFC and the NFC serve as opposing conferences that guide the structure of the NFL’s regular season and playoff system.
Within the AFC, there are various divisions that facilitate regional competition and rivalries. Similarly, the NFC also hosts its divisions, which allows teams to vie for divisional titles, establishing seeding for the post-season playoffs. Both the AFC and NFC divisions contribute to an organized and competitive structure in professional football.
When the playoffs approach, teams from the AFC compete against each other to secure a spot in the Super Bowl, the pinnacle of professional football. In the NFC, a parallel playoff system operates, wherein their respective teams battle for the coveted Super Bowl spot as well. Both the AFC and the NFC crown their champions, who then clash in the Super Bowl.
The Pro Bowl is another event where distinctions between the AFC and NFC become prominent. Players from the AFC collaborate to form a single team, whereas players from the NFC join forces to form an opposing team. Thus, both the AFC and the NFC bring their best talents to exhibit a showdown before the Super Bowl.

Comparison Chart


Originated from the AFL in 1970.
Originated from the old NFL.


Teams have varied success.
Teams have varied success.

Known Teams

Includes the New England Patriots.
Includes the Dallas Cowboys.

Iconic Players

Boasts Tom Brady (formerly).
Features Aaron Rodgers.

Geographical Spots

Spans various U.S. regions.
Spans various U.S. regions.

AFC and NFC Definitions


AFC in the Pro Bowl.
Players selected from AFC teams showcase their skills in the Pro Bowl.


NFC in Playoff Scenarios.
The NFC playoffs are a crucial path to the Super Bowl for teams.


AFC as a Football Conference.
The Kansas City Chiefs represent the AFC in numerous playoff appearances.


NFC in Seasonal Play.
Throughout the season, NFC teams battle for divisional supremacy.


AFC in Playoff Context.
The AFC Championship Game determines who proceeds to the Super Bowl.


NFC as a Competitive Entity.
NFC teams vie for a spot in the conference's championship game.


AFC as a Criterion.
Teams in the AFC East compete to top their division each season.


NFC Regarding the Pro Bowl.
The NFC Pro Bowl team consists of standout players from the conference.


AFC in Regular Season.
AFC teams engage in fierce competition throughout the regular season.


NFC in National League Context.
The Green Bay Packers, an NFC team, boast numerous league titles.


What does AFC stand for?

AFC stands for American Football Conference.

How many teams are in the AFC?

The AFC consists of 16 teams.

How is the AFC divided?

North, South, East, and West.

Who is the champion of the AFC determined?

The AFC champion is determined through the AFC playoff, culminating in the AFC Championship Game.

Which team has the most AFC championships?

The New England Patriots have the most AFC championships.

Is the AFC older than the NFC?

No, the AFC and NFC were established simultaneously in 1970.

How many teams are in the NFC?

The NFC also consists of 16 teams.

Do AFC teams play NFC teams?

Yes, AFC teams do play NFC teams during the regular season and, if they qualify, in the Super Bowl.

When was the AFC established?

The AFC was established in 1970 following the NFL-AFL merger.

Who won the most recent AFC Championship?

This would depend on the most recent NFL season. As of the 2021 NFL season, the Cincinnati Bengals won the AFC Championship.

Who is the champion of the NFC determined?

The NFC champion is determined through the NFC playoff, culminating in the NFC Championship Game.

Is the NFC considered stronger than the AFC?

Strength perceptions vary year by year, with both conferences having periods of dominance.

Which NFC team has appeared in the most Super Bowls?

The Dallas Cowboys have appeared in the most Super Bowls among NFC teams.

What is the trophy awarded to the AFC champion called?

The AFC champion is awarded the Lamar Hunt Trophy.

Which team has the most NFC championships?

The San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys share the record for the most NFC championships.

What does NFC stand for?

NFC stands for National Football Conference.

How is the NFC divided?

The NFC is divided into four divisions: North, South, East, and West.

When was the NFC established?

The NFC was established in 1970, at the same time as the AFC.

What is the trophy awarded to the NFC champion called?

The NFC champion is awarded the George Halas Trophy.

Who won the most recent NFC Championship?

This would depend on the most recent NFL season. As of the 2021 NFL season, the Los Angeles Rams won the NFC Championship.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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