The AFC is widely considered the superior NFL conference — and this graphic is the perfect illustration.
The Kansas City Chiefs and the AFC reigned supreme in the 2023 Super Bowl. The Philadelphia Eagles, meanwhile, were sent home empty-handed after a heartbreaking defeat. It set the stage perfectly for another summer of debate: which NFL conference is superior?
While there are many factors at play here, from team defense, to regular season production, to postseason projections, there’s generally one quick and easy way to compare the quality of both conferences — look at the quarterbacks.
This graphic from Pro Football Focus might be all we need to answer the question of which conference is better.
The AFC established as superior conference to NFC based on quarterback quality
In a ranking of the 10 best quarterbacks in football, the NFC is represented only three times: Jalen Hurts (No. 7), Kirk Cousins (No. 9), and Dak Prescott (No. 10). All of the top-6 quarterbacks, according to PFF, belong to the AFC.
Now there will naturally be debates over the specifics of each ranking. Jalen Hurts just led the Eagles to the Super Bowl with a historic combination of passing and running. Maybe he should be a shade higher. I’d also bump Lamar Jackson up a spot or two, and maybe consider some alternates for Cousins and Prescott in the 9-10 spots — that, of course, doesn’t exactly bolster the NFC’s case.
In defense of the NFC, it does feel like a significant portion of the 10-20 range would and should reside with them. Think of the breakout (or bounce-back) candidates in the NFC, from Justin Fields, to Kyler Murray, to Brock Purdy or Trey Lance. There’s a lot of room for upward movement with NFC quarterbacks, not so much with the AFC omissions, save for the notably absent Tua Tagovailoa.
It’s impossible to deny the star power concentrated at the top of the AFC right now. With Mahomes cemented in the No. 1 spot, Joe Burrow, Josh Allen, and Lamar Jackson all feel like they’re waiting in line for a Super Bowl at this point. Hurts has a strong chance to lead the Eagles to the NFC mountaintop again, but he alone cannot save the NFC in this debate.