Dominating the AFC Championship Game

By Blaidd Drwg

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook about how the Pats have been to 12 AFC championship game and the Broncos to 9 in the last 3 decades. That is a pretty good run, but it got me thinking, what about Super Bowls? I decided to shrink the window and only look at the last 21 years. Why, you might ask, well, I figured I would be looking at the expansion era in the NFL, which started in 1995 and from 1991-1994, the Buffalo Bills were the AFC representative in the Super Bowl, so 1995 seemed like a good place to start.

So since 1995, there have been 8 AFC teams that have represented the conference:

Team Number Of SB Appearances % of AFC Total
Patriots 7 33%
Steelers 4 19%
Broncos 3 14%
Ravens 2 10%
Colts 2 10%
Raiders 1 5%
Chargers 1 5%
Titans 1 5%


There is a bit of rounding there, but, counting this year because it will be either the Pats or Broncos representing the AFC, the Pats, Broncos and Steelers represent 15 out of the last 22 AFC champions, or 68% of the appearances, with the other 32% represented by the remaining 5 teams on the list, meaning there are 8 AFC teams that have not made the Super Bowl in the last 21 years. What about the NFC you might ask? Well, in the same time period, no NFC team has been to more than 3 (Seattle, GB and the Giants are all at 3) and only 3 teams have been to more than 1 (SF, the Rams and the winner of the  Carolina/Arizona game this weekend). Talk about dominance vs. parity.

So it got me thinking, if the Pats, Steelers and Broncos have been to that many Super Bowls, how have the fared in AFC Championship game appearances? Well those numbers are quite scary:

Team Number of AFC Championship Appearances % of Total Possible Appearances % of Conference Total
Patriots 11 52% 26%
Steelers 8 38% 19%
Colts 5 24% 12%
Broncos 5 24% 12%
Ravens 4 19% 10%
Jets 3 14% 7%
Chargers 2 9% 5%
Titans 2 9% 5%
Raiders 2 9% 5%


The list of teams that have been to the Super Bowl is no less dominating when you factor in the AFC championship game. Heck the only team that has been to the AFC championship game that has not been to the Super Bowl in the last 21 years are the Jets, losing all 3 times they appeared in the conference championship.

So next time someone wants to talk about the “dominance” of the Seahawks, just remember, the last time that the Patriots were NOT in the AFC championship game was 2010 (they lost to the Jets in the divisional round) and the last time they did not make the playoffs was 2008, when Brady was out the entire year and they still finished 11-5 and managed to not make the playoffs because of tie-breakers for their division and the wild card. Actually the last time the Patriots failed to win 10 games was 2002 (they were 9-7) and the last time they didn’t make the playoffs was last century, when they finished 5-11 in 2000, with some coach named Belichick, who was in his first year with the team and that Brady guy was their third string QB, behind Drew Bledsoe and the combination of John Friesz and Michael Bishop.

You won’t find a bigger hater of the Pats than me, but, damn, even I have to concede that is a long time to be that dominant.

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