Which NFL Conference Has the Best Super Bowl Record?

Blue and Red American Football Helmets and BallTo those outside of the United States of America that don’t know much about American football, the Super Bowl can seem like a strange and impenetrable event. Taking place once a year, it pitches the winners of the National Football Conference against the team that wins the American Football Conference for the right to declare themselves world champions in the sport. It first took place in 1967 after the 1966 regular season and has happened every year since.

Teams that win the Super Bowl go down in history, but the biggest battle is arguably between the two different conferences to see which one gets to boast supremacy. At the time of writing, the honours are shared between 20 different teams, with 11 of them coming from the National Conference and nine from the American Conference.

Quick Answer: Which Conference Has Won the Most Super Bowls, the NFC or the AFC?

Between Super Bowl I in 1967 and Super Bowl LV in 2021, the NFC/NFL have won 28 times (51%) and the AFC/AFL have won 27 times (49%).

Conferences Explained

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In the world of American football, the National Football League was the dominant variance after its creation in 1920. Several different rival leagues were formed over the years, but the NFL successfully fended them all off. That is until the American Football League was formed in 1960, quickly vying with the NFL for both fans and players to join its roster and giving it a sense of legitimacy.

In the wake of the AFL’s first season, its commissioner, Joe Foss, sent the NFL an invitation to take part in a ‘World Playoff’, which would involve the champions of the two leagues from the 1961 season. The match never took place, but when merger talks between the two leagues began to take place, the idea of having such a match was quickly put on the agenda.

The AFL had been borne out of a desire to see football played across the country, with the teams turning to the largely ignored predominantly black colleges for its star players. It also introduced rules and policies that were later adopted by the NFL, proving that it was a well-organised and structured league. There were only eight teams in the AFL initially, allowing the NFL to essentially ignore its existence.

The main advantage boasted by the AFL was that its owners were richer than their NFL equivalents, meaning that they could absorb financial losses whilst they waited to be taken seriously. They thrived and grew, signing a broadcast deal with NBC worth $36 million that meant that the NFL had to start considering them as real rivals. Tit-for-tat signings between leagues soon started, leading to the merger.

Who Plays In The Super Bowl

Super Bowl XLVII

By djanimal, flickr

The merger agreement was announced on the eighth of June 1966, seeing the two leagues combine to create one large league that would feature 24 teams, expanding to 26 by 1969 and 28 by 1970. The two leagues would hold what was referred to as a ‘Common Draft’ of college players, stopping the need for bidding wars. They would still play two separate regular seasons, with one AFL-NFL World Championship Game.

In 1970, the two leagues merged to form one league that had two conferences. The AFL teams had quickly decided that geography would determine which teams would play in which conference, but NFL sides struggled to make a similar decision. In the end, it was essentially decided according to the drawing of lots, with the teams decided upon and the two conferences officially formed.

Though there have been some small changes over the years, it has been general the same since then, with a given number of teams playing in the American Football Conference and others playing in the National Football Conference during the normal season. The winning team from each conference then goes head-to-head in the Super Bowl at the end of the season. For English football fans, it’s as if the winners of the Premier League and the winners of the Bundesliga played a match every summer.

Because of the way the match works, it would be impossible for two teams from the same conference to ever play each other. In other words, two AFL teams couldn’t ever meet in the Super Bowl and neither could two NFL sides. It is specifically a game between the winners of the AFL and the winners of the NFL, designed to figure out which is technically the best team, and therefore the strongest conference, that year.

The Most Successful Conference

Though the Super Bowl’s popularity outside of the United States of America grows year on year, the truth is that it is still only in the US where it is a must-watch. It is second only to the UEFA Champions League in terms of global audience and is the most-watched broadcast in its home country. In American television history, the top five most-watched events are all Super Bowls.

Broadcasters charge more money for adverts during the Super Bowl than any other event in the year, with only Thanksgiving Day beating Super Bowl Day in terms of food consumption. Whichever metric you use, then, it’s fair to say that the Super Bowl is an event that is much-loved by audiences around the world. The one question that not everyone will know the answer to is which conference is the most successful.

Chart That Shows the Winning Super Bowl Conferences Between 1967 and 2021

At the time of writing, the NFL leads the AFL by 28 wins to 27, suggesting that there is no one dominant conference in American football’s existence.

Full List of Super Bowl Winners and Their Conference

Here’s a look at the Super Bowls between 1967 and 2021, with information on the team from the AFC that played in it, the team from the NFC that played in it and the winning conference:

Super Bowl Winners – 1967 to 2021

Year AFL Team NFL Team Winning Conference
1967 Kansas City Chiefs Green Bay Packers National (NFL)
1968 Oakland Raiders Green Bay Packers National (NFL)
1969 New York Jets Baltimore Colts American (AFL)
1970 Kansas City Chiefs Minnesota Vikings American (AFL)
1971 Baltimore Colts Dallas Cowboys American (AFC)
1972 Dallas Cowboys Miami Dolphins National (NFC)
1973 Miami Dolphins Washington Redskins American (AFC)
1974 Miami Dolphins Minnesota Vikings American (AFC)
1975 Pittsburgh Steelers Minnesota Vikings American (AFC)
1976 Pittsburgh Steelers Dallas Cowboys American (AFC)
1977 Oakland Raiders Minnesota Vikings American (AFC)
1978 Denver Broncos Dallas Cowboys National (NFC)
1979 Pittsburgh Steelers Dallas Cowboys American (AFC)
1980 Pittsburgh Steelers Los Angeles Rams American (AFC)
1981 Oakland Raiders Philadelphia Eagles American (AFC)
1982 Cincinnati Bengals San Fransisco 49ers National (NFC)
1983 Miami Dolphins Washington Redskins National (NFC)
1984 Los Angeles Raiders Washington Redskins American (AFC)
1985 Miami Dolphins San Fransisco 49ers National (NFC)
1986 Chicago Bears New England Patriots National (NFC)
1987 Denver Broncos New York Giants National (NFC)
1988 Denver Broncos Washington Redskins National (NFC)
1989 Cincinnati Bengals San Francisco 49ers National (NFC)
1990 Denver Broncos San Fransisco 49ers National (NFC)
1991 Buffalo Bills New York Giants National (NFC)
1992 Buffalo Bills Washington Redskins National (NFC)
1993 Buffalo Bills Dallas Cowboys National (NFC)
1994 Buffalo Bills Dallas Cowboys National (NFC)
1995 San Diego Chargers San Fransisco 49ers National (NFC)
1996 Pittsburgh Steelers Dallas Cowboys National (NFC)
1997 New England Patriots Green Bay Packers National (NFC)
1998 Denver Broncos Green Bay Packers American (AFC)
1999 Denver Broncos Atlanta Falcons American (AFC)
2000 Tennessee Titans St. Louis Rams National (NFC)
2001 Baltimore Ravens New York Giants American (AFC)
2002 New England Patriots St. Louis Rams American (AFC)
2003 Oakland Raiders Tampa Bay Buccaneers National (NFC)
2004 New England Patriots Carolina Panthers American (AFC)
2005 New England Patriots Philadelphia Eagles American (AFC)
2006 Pittsburgh Steelers Seattle Seahawks American (AFC)
2007 Indianapolis Colts Chicago Bears American (AFC)
2008 New England Patriots New York Giants National (NFC)
2009 Pittsburgh Steelers Arizona Cardinals American (AFC)
2010 Indianapolis Colts New Orleans Saints National (NFC)
2011 Pittsburgh Steelers Green Bay Packers National (NFC)
2012 New England Patriots New York Giants National (NFC)
2013 Baltimore Ravens San Fransisco 49ers American (AFC)
2014 Denver Broncos Seattle Seahawks National (NFC)
2015 New England Patriots Seattle Seahawks American (AFC)
2016 Denver Broncos Carolina Panthers American (AFC)
2017 New England Patriots Atlanta Falcons American (AFC)
2018 New England Patriots Philadelphia Eagles National (NFC)
2019 New England Patriots Los Angeles Rams American (AFC)
2020 Kansas City Chiefs San Fransisco 49ers American (AFC)
2021 Kansas City Chiefs Tampa Bay Buccaneers National (NFC)

You can see, then, that the dominance of the National Football Conference teams in the 1980s and into the 1990s put them in an incredible strong position, with the American Football Conference sides winning regularly since the beginning of the Super Bowl’s existence.