Pop Rocks: A Pop Culture Nerd's Guide to the NFL -- The AFC

Welcome to the second installment in this hugely popular look at the National Football League, made more user-friendly for the sports-challenged among you by yours truly. Last Tuesday we took a gander at the NFC (or "National Football Conference"). Today it's the AFC's turn.

The "A" stands for "American." Like it should.

Incidentally, your hometown Houston Texans are in the AFC, which is a fact you can totally show off to your Friday night Magic: The Gathering league.


Buffalo Bills

Fun Facts: The team's glory days are long passed (O.J. Simpson played the bulk of his career here), starting when they lost four Super Bowls in a row. Recent speculation has outside interests purchasing the team and moving them from Buffalo, which would kill that town deader than Julius Caesar.

Pop Culture Analog: Suicidal Moe Syzlak

Miami Dolphins

Fun Facts: The Dolphins are the last NFL team to go undefeated for an entire season (in 1972). A fact they refuse to let you forget, even though they've accomplished nothing since.

Pop Culture Analog: Jethro Tull's "Living in the Past"

New England Patriots

Fun Facts: The "Pats" and coach Bill Belichick were disciplined by the league for videotaping opposing teams' practices in 2007. Before that, nobody cared about them since they didn't win their first Super Bowl until 2001.

Pop Culture Analog: The Whiners from SNL

New York Jets

Fun Facts: Most recently known for actually signing brick-throwing Bible-thumper Tim Tebow, the Jets are otherwise only memorable because their most recognizable former player is a deteriorating alcoholic who led them to their sole championship. 43 years ago.

Pop Culture Analog: Gabby Johnson from Blazing Saddled

Baltimore Ravens

Fun Facts: The Ravens came into existence after the recently deceased Art Modell yanked the then-Browns out of Cleveland (I actually attended their inaugural game (a win) against the Oakland Raiders in 1996). Linebacker Ray Lewis has been a model for those convicted of obstruction of justice everywhere.

Pop Culture Analog: Fellow one-hit wonders Right Said Fred

Cincinnati Bengals

Fun Facts: The Bengals are one of those flyover country teams that nobody actually believes exist. "Who are we playing this week?" "The Bengals." "Ha-ha, no, really?"

Pop Culture Analog: The selkie

Cleveland Browns

Fun Facts: It doesn't matter what horrible things you want to say about this franchise, Browns fans have already thought about it. They're the most self-loathing team in the NFL.

Pop Culture Analog: The Orphans from The Warriors

Pittsburgh Steelers

Fun Fact: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would be serving ten years for sexual assault if he wasn't, well, "quarterback Ben Roethlisberger." The number of pink #7 jerseys still worn by little girls of parents still in denial is a disgrace to the state of Pennsylvania.

Pop Culture Analog: Dr. Malcolm Crowe from The Sixth Sense

Houston Texans

Fun Facts: The Texans made the playoffs for the first time in their ten-year franchise history last year. Apparently anything less than a Super Bowl this year will be devastating.

Pop Culture Analog: Great Expectations

Indianapolis Colts

Fun Facts: Formerly the Baltimore Colts, until Robert Irsay spirited them away to Indy in the dead of night. Now attempting to rebuild after the loss of Peyton Manning and the team's realization that they live in Indiana.

Pop Culture Analog: Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart"

Jacksonville Jaguars

Fun Facts: Florida is the state with the most NFL teams, one of which has never appeared in a Super Bowl. Los Angeles is re-examining getting an NFL team. It's a match made in left-coast media heaven.

Pop Culture Analog: Adrian Cronauer

Tennessee Titans

Fun Facts: This is the team that used to be the Oilers, before Bud Adams decided the mean old city of Houston wasn't giving him his due. Probably true.

Pop Culture Analog: Chester from those old Looney Tunes cartoons

Denver Broncos

Fun Facts: The Denver airport was where Dick Hallorann flew in to save Danny Torrance from his dad in The Shining. It will also be where Broncos coach John Fox flees when the grand Peyton Manning experiment collapses into ignominy.

Pop Culture Analog: "Rocky Mountain High"

Kansas City Chiefs

Fun Facts: Like their baseball counterparts the Royals, the Chiefs will never see a significant playoff run again, because contrary to what their citizens would have you believe, God hates Kansas.

Pop Culture Analog: Bishop Pickering from Caddyshack

Oakland Raiders

Fun Fact: The recent death of longtime owner Al Davis has finally freed the Raiders to try some new approaches to team management. Unfortunately, they'll still suck.

Pop Culture Analog: The Reavers, or so they'd like you to think.

San Diego Chargers

Fun Fact: They've fielded several competitive teams since booting the Super Bowl in '95, but have never really threatened. As a result, no one takes them very seriously.

Pop Culture Analog: Butters from South Park

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