Too long have I had to listen to the same boring drivel.
Peyton Manning this, Peyton Manning that.
Tom Brady this, Tom Brady that.
How talented the AFC is. How dominant they are.
How poor the NFC is. How overrated the NFC is.
That conversation is over.
The conferences are finally equal once again, and the NFC might even be a bit better than their counterpart.
Since the inception of the Super Bowl in 1969 (the first two NFL-AFL championship games were retrospectively named Super Bowls 1 and 2, and I believe for nostalgic purposes they should remain that way), neither conference has put together much evidence that they are the dominant one.
There have been decade-long reigns by each, beginning with the official merger in 1970.
Throughout the first 10 years, teams from the AFC won eight of 10 NFL championships. Dallas was the only worthy NFC representative during this time, appearing in five, and winning just twice.
As a team, the Steelers were the best in the decade—winning four championships, and becoming the first team to win back-to-back titles, a feat they accomplished twice. They were the first dynasty of the new league.
The 1980’s saw a reversal of fortunes, as the upstart 49ers won four titles, becoming the second dynasty of the league.
NFC teams dominated the decade, winning eight of 10 titles. The Raiders were the AFC’s lone championship contender, winning twice.
To add insult to injury, the 49ers closed the decade by drubbing the Broncos, long considered to be one of the strongest teams in the conference, 55-10 in the Super Bowl, in a performance which won them back-to-back titles.
The '90's saw more dominance by the NFC, winning five straight titles to open the decade, and capturing eight of 10 championships.
Denver won back to back titles in '97 and '98, the only AFC team to win a Super Bowl during this time. The Cowboys, 49ers, Giants, and Redskins all won titles through stifling defense and power running games. Other than Denver no team in the AFC seemed built to match this smash-mouth scheme.
In the current decade, the AFC finally found its footing, winning seven of nine titles in the process.
With one champion left to be crowned, regardless of which conference takes it, this has clearly been an AFC-dominated period.
With nearly four full decades of Super Bowls complete, this much is clear: neither conference is the clear winner. Since the merger in 1970, the NFC has won 20 titles and the AFC has won 20 titles.
This year is no different than years past, as there are still 12 teams in the playoffs, and just six each representing their conference.
There can still be just one champion, but if history keeps going the way it has (and I see no reason that it will not), look out for seven to eight titles from the NFC between 2011-2020.
The Steelers were the dynasty of the 1970’s.
The 49ers were the dynasty of the 1980’s.
The Cowboys were the dynasty of the 1990’s.
Each of these teams was built through the draft by innovative coaches that wanted to win, and knew how to accomplish it—with smart, athletic players that believed in their leaders.
The 2000’s clearly belong to the Patriots, who were built primarily through the draft, but also through a series of trades and free agents. They were the first salary cap era team to be a dynasty, but their time is clearly over.
History has one lesson for us: A new dynasty is right around the corner, and no one is going to see them coming. Look out AFC, your time is up.