This year’s AFC Championship Game will feature a familiar franchise along with an up-and-coming organization.
On one side, there are the Kansas City Chiefs. They will host the conference title game for the fourth straight time, reaching the contest every year since making Patrick Mahomes their full-time starting quarterback.
While making the game has become an annual tradition, it hasn’t always been that way for Kansas City. For the first four decades following the merger between the NFL and AFL, the Chiefs were closer to the team they will face on Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Bengals are making just their third ever AFC Championship Game appearance and their first since 1988. The Chiefs, meanwhile, only reached the conference title game once from 1970 to 2018.
With Joe Burrow in Cincinnati and Mahomes in Kansas City, the two organizations are poised to have a major presence in future conference championship games. But which organizations were the most common participants in the title games over the last 51 years?
Here is a look at which teams have won, lost and reached the most AFC Championship Games:
Which team has won the most AFC Championship Games?
The New England Patriots have far and away the most AFC Championship Game victories with 11.
Nine of those wins came from 2001 to 2019, when Tom Brady was the team’s starting quarterback. Those nine wins translated to six Super Bowl victories for Brady, head coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots, tying the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most in NFL history.
Speaking of the Steelers, they are tied with the Denver Broncos for the second-most AFC Championship Game victories with eight. The Miami Dolphins are next on the list with five conference title game wins.
Which team has lost the most AFC Championship Games?
Along with eight wins, the Steelers also have eight losses in AFC Championship Games, the most of any team.
Second on the list for most losses are the Las Vegas Raiders with seven. After them, the Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans and New York Jets are tied for third with four losses apiece.
Which team has the most AFC Championship Game appearances?
The Steelers have played in a record 16 AFC Championship Games overall, one more than the Patriots. The Raiders (11) and Broncos (10) are the only other teams with double-digit appearances.
Sixteen teams have reached an AFC Championship Game, but they are not the 16 teams that make up the current AFC. The Seattle Seahawks played in the AFC West from the time they joined the NFL as an expansion team in 1976 up until the 2002 season, when they joined the NFC West. Their AFC Championship Game appearance came in the 1983 season, when they lost to the Oakland Raiders 30-14.
The only present-day AFC team to never reach the conference title game is the Houston Texans.
Here is the full list of teams listed by AFC Championship Game appearances:
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)
7. Buffalo Bills: 6 (4-2)
T-8. Tennessee Titans: 5 (1-4)
T-8. Kansas City Chiefs: 5 (2-2)
T-10. Baltimore Ravens: 4 (2-2)
T-10. Los Angeles Chargers: 4 (1-3)
T-10. New York Jets: 4 (0-4)
T-13. Cincinnati Bengals: 3 (2-0)
T-13. Jacksonville Jaguars: 3 (0-3)
T-13. Cleveland Browns: 3 (0-3)
16. Seattle Seahawks: 1 (0-1)
T-17. Houston Texans: 0
T-17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 0