After months of football, the NFL comes down to the best of the best. On Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs will host the Cincinnati Bengals at the Arrowhead Stadium for the Lamar Hunt Trophy and a spot in the Super Bowl. This will be a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game when the Bengals won 27-24 thanks to a walk-off field goal in overtime.
This will be the fifth straight season that Kansas City hosts the AFC Championship Game. The team won in both 2020 and 2021, taking home the Lombardi Trophy in 2020. The team will try to return to the Super Bowl after the upset loss last season with the help of Patrick Mahomes. The quarterback is considered one of the favorites to win the MVP this year and has made it to the conference championship game in all of his seasons as a starter.
On the other side of the matchup, Cincinnati will try to win the AFC in back-to-back years. One of the biggest surprises last season, the Bengals earned their first Super Bowl berth since the 1988 season. With hopes of finally winning a taking home a Super Bowl title for the franchise, Pro Bowler Joe Burrow will try to lead the Bengals to a playoff victory on the road.
This rematch between the Chiefs and Bengals has the potential of being a historic game. Still, it would be a chapter in the long history of this conference game. With that being said, here is some of the AFC Championship Game history throughout the last 52 years.
Who has the most AFC Championship Game wins?
The New England Patriots led the way with 11 wins in AFC Championship Games. Their most recent victory was in 2019 against the Chiefs in Mahomes’ first year as a starter and when he took home the MVP trophy. This was also the last year New England won the Super Bowl as Tom Brady departed a season later.
Nine of those 11 wins came during Brady’s tenure as a starter for the Patriots from 2001 to 2019. In that span, New England took home six Super Bowls. Thanks to Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, the Patriots tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for most league championships.
The Steelers, alongside the Denver Broncos, have the second-most AFC Championship Game victories with eight. Pittsburgh’s most recent win was in 2011, and Denver’s was in 2016. Next, the Miami Dolphins have five wins with the last one being in 1985.
A contender for this Sunday’s matchup, Kansas City has two conference championship victories, both with Mahomes as its quarterback. Cincinnati has three AFC Championship Game wins, including last year’s.
Who has the most AFC Championship Game losses?
In addition to eight wins, Pittsburgh also has eight losses in AFC Championship Games. The latter is the most in the NFL.
After the Steelers, the Las Vegas Raiders have seven losses. Then, the Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, and New York Jets are tied with four losses each.
The Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, and Seattle Seahawks are the only organizations with appearances in the AFC Championship Game with no victories.
The Chiefs have three losses in conference title games, two of them coming in Mahomes’ tenure. The Bengals, however, have yet to lose an AFC Championship, winning in all three times they appeared.
Who has the most AFC Championship Game appearances?
Pittsburgh has the most AFC Championship Game appearances with 16, most recently in 2016. The Steelers are followed by the Patriots with 15. Other than them, only the Raiders and Broncos have double-digit appearances with 11 and 10 respectively.
Kansas City will play its sixth AFC Championship Game on Sunday, and Cincinnati will be playing it for the fourth time.
Since the NFL merger with the American Football League, a total of 16 teams have appeared in at least one AFC Championship Game. However, not all of them compose the current AFC. The Seahawks were part of the conference from 1976 until 2002 when they joined the NFC West.
The only current AFC member that has never played in the conference title game is the Houston Texans. The only former AFC member that also failed to reach the AFC Championship Game is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who only played in the conference in 1976, their first year as members of the NFL.
Here is the full list of teams listed by AFC Championship Game appearances and their respective records:
1. Pittsburgh Steelers: 16 (8-8)
2. New England Patriots: 15 (11-4)
3. Las Vegas Raiders: 11 (4-7)
4. Denver Broncos: 10 (8-2)
T-5. Miami Dolphins: 7 (5-2)
T-5. Indianapolis Colts: 7 (3-4)
T-7. Buffalo Bills: 6 (4-2)
T-7. Kansas City Chiefs: 6 (2-3)
9. Tennessee Titans: 5 (1-4)
T-10. Cincinnati Bengals: 4 (3-0)
T-10. Baltimore Ravens: 4 (2-2)
T-10. Los Angeles Chargers: 4 (1-3)
T-10. New York Jets: 4 (0-4)
T-14. Jacksonville Jaguars: 3 (0-3)
T-14. Cleveland Browns: 3 (0-3)
16. Seattle Seahawks: 1 (0-1)
T-17. Houston Texans: 0
T-17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 0