Green Bay Packers: Bad NFC North teams making it easy?

The Green Bay Packers have dominated the Chicago Bears for a number of years. Photo Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
The Green Bay Packers have dominated the Chicago Bears for a number of years. Photo Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

When it was declared that the Green Bay Packers had the easiest schedule in 2016, fans and pundits quickly turned to Super Bowl fantasies. Of course, that schedule includes the NFC North.

There’s been discussion that Aaron Rodgers, Mike McCarthy and the Green Bay Packers have simply taken advantage of a bad division in piling up wins.

It’s a plausible explanation as to why Green Bay has been to the playoffs seven straight years with four division crowns since Rodgers took over. And yest, they have appeared in only one Super Bowl.

Yes, high expectations have been set, though that doesn’t mean the perceived failures shouldn’t be examined.

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So I tried to figure out a way to compare the divisions. In terms of being a challenge or a cake walk, it’s tough to decipher. There are many factors to consider in any given season, which makes this just a broad look.

So take it for what it’s worth.

First I looked at the division records for each franchise from 2008-2015 and combined them. However, I subtracted the record of the club with the best divisional mark during that time.

For example, the New England Patriots have the best record within the AFC East at 36-12. The same goes for the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC South.

The Packers own the NFC North’s most wins, boasting a 34-13-1 mark. That’s 12 games better than the next best team in the Minnesota Vikings.

The division with the worst record within its own division (minus it’s best team), is the AFC East.

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Green Bay Packers Richard Rodgers added to the Detroit Lions misery with this Hail Mary catch in 2015. Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Since the Patriots are the best team in that division, it’s the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets who combine for the lowest winning percentage.

Overall, their record within the AFC East is 60-84 over the last eight seasons.

Meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers reside in the 3rd-worst division by this standard as their three NFC North foes have won at just a .427 clip (61-82-1) in the division. This doesn’t tell the whole story though.

Each division can be skewed by having a dominant club (e.g. New England, Indianapolis, Green Bay) and/or having a truly dreadful team creating a win-loss gap.

For example, the Cleveland Browns are 10-38 against AFC North foes, countering the 31 wins for the Pittsburgh Steelers and 30 victories for the Baltimore Ravens in their division.

So maybe this just shows that certain teams know how to handle their divisional rivals, but isn’t necessarily indicative of how bad the entire division is in general.

Let’s open it up to how well each division plays against the rest of the NFL while subtracting those top divisional teams.

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Packers are looking to take back the NFC North crown from the Vikings by the end of this season. Photo Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /

The AFC South has an abysmal record against the rest of the NFL without the Colts’ record. It’s headed by the Jacksonville Jaguars’ league-worst 20-60 interdivisional record.

Meanwhile, the NFC South owns the NFL’s best mark – the only one over .500 – thanks to the Atlanta Falcons’ 50-30 record outside its division.

The NFC North holds its own minus Green Bay’s 49-31 mark.

The Vikings and Chicago Bears each have a 42-38 record against the other seven divisions, while the Detroit Lions drag down the overall success with an ugly 30-50 showing.

You won’t find a definitive answer here, but it’s safe to say the Packers don’t really skate by on the ineptitude of the NFC North.

You’d be onto something had they played in the AFC South or AFC West, where Indy and the Denver Broncos appear to have had the easiest paths over the years.

As for the Packers and Patriots, they continue to parallel each other. They’ve both been the Alpha dog as the rest of their divisional opponents rotate in their success, while also playing well against other NFL teams.

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The Green Bay Packers will continue on with their steady pace, watching the rest of the division bounce up and down.

Of course, the Vikings had their taste of the top last season, and they’re off to a strong start this year as well.

As far as the Packers’ postseason disappointments, that could mostly be to the parity-driven league the NFL has become.

One bad outing or a hot opponent can take you out – much like the Packers’ title run in the 2010 campaign showed.

You have every right to feel how you want to about the franchise, even if you’re mad about seeing Rodgers in only one Super Bowl.

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However, don’t refute the club’s terrific play because you think they got a lucky break by playing in the NFC North. They’ve certainly benefited at times, but other divisions have created easier paths to a title.