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Has Green Bay been THAT Good, or has the NFC North been THAT Bad?

There is denying that the Packers have dominated the NFC North for the better part of a decade. Over the last 11 seasons, Green Bay has had two losing seasons. In total, they have only had three seasons where they did not reach 10 wins, and one of those they still won the division.

All "The-Packers-Wasted-Rodgers-Prime" arguments aside, that is a decade of dominance. Now I know that all the cry-baby cheeseheads out there wanted more Lombardi trophies, and while I'd agree with you, the idea that the 2010s were anything less than superb is laughable.

Out of the NFC North's 19 playoff berths over the last 11 seasons, Green Bay has been responsible for 9 of them. That included 6 NFC North titles, 4 straight from 2011 - 2014.

So the question begs to be asked, is this due to the Packers being good, or the rest of the North being terrible.

To answer this question, we are going to look at two primary data points, and then you can do your own homework and tell us where we're wrong.

  1. First, we are going to look at the division's playoff berths compared to the rest of the league. Basically, how did the division fare against the others in the league?

  2. Second, how did the individual teams within the division compare to the rest of the league in key team metrics? We use a statistic developed by Pro Football Reference called Expected Points.

Up First: Divisional Performance

As we mentioned before, the NFC North has appeared in the playoffs 19 times since 2009, which is tied with the AFC North for most by a division over the same period of time. Pretty solid right?

Well, total appearances by the division don't necessarily mean the division is any good. Someone has to win it every year. Look at the AFC East, New England literally has won it 11 straight times.

To better analyze the Division's performance, we have to breakdown the 19 appearances. Green Bay was responsible for 9 (47.4%) of the North's playoff appearances.

That is impressive, but that also means that 10 appearances were made by teams not named the Packers. Minnesota, for example, was responsible for 5 (26.3%) appearances, which is good enough to be the leaders in the clubhouse for most of the other divisions.

The NFC North also had the most Wild Card Berths in the NFC, which is a powerful indicator of how hard it is to keep the North out of the playoffs. They're a tough out against the rest of the league and are always in the mix.

Conclusion: The NFC North has been a formidable division for the past decade.

Team Performance Compared to the League

While 19 appearances by the division are impressive, it does not conclusively prove that Green Bay has been carrying the North's water for all these years.

So next we will take a look at how the individual teams fared against the rest of the league in Offensive and Defensive Expected Points.

Offensively, it's not even close. Outside of the disastrous 2017 season, Green Bay has consistently outperformed the division and the rest of the league in total offense, mostly due to the fact they have a generational talent at Quarterback.

Even 2018, which culminated in a staff layoff and a massive turnover of the team's core, they were exactly average when compared to the rest of the league.

The rest of the division has been a mixed back, but as long as you're not named the Detroit Lions, the division has been right in line if not slightly above with the rest of the league.

Defensively, it is a much different story. Since 2012, Green Bay's defense has been downright pitiful. They have been average at best compared to the rest of the League.

That being said, it's clear that the NFC North has been an offensively heavy division throughout the 2010s. Outside of a flash in the pan of elite defenses, the North is not known for keeping people out of the endzone.

Conclusion: Green Bay has headlined an offensively proficient division

The Bottom Line

It is clear that the NFC North has been a formidable group since 2009, and the fact that Green Bay has been so successful despite the steep competition indicates that they have been a top tier team in the league rather than the best of a crappy division.

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