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Kings of the North - Packers Have Owned the Division Since 2002

The factors which are responsible for the Packers' sustained success were on national display Sunday, but the record shows that they have become a common sight for NFC North foes.

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

There’s no way Zygi Wolf, Martha Ford, or Virginia McCaskey would ever sell their football teams. The NFL does six billion dollars in revenue annually, and a seat at the table is a precious thing.

But with Aaron Rodgers playing the way he’s playing, really: what’s the point? Minnesota, Detroit and Chicago can throw out whomever they like; it’s like throwing seashells into a hurricane, or spraying a garden hose into a California wildfire. There seems to be no stopping the Green Bay machine. Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy, and Rodgers have something going that only a select few teams around the league, and none others in the North, can match.

Sure, it was "only" a Divisional Round win on Sunday, but tell that to legions of fans who have donned Joey Harrington, Christian Ponder and Jay Cutler jerseys over the past decade and a half. Since the NFC North as we know it was born thirteen seasons ago, the Packers have finished in first place eight times.

Combined, the Vikings (2-4), Lions (0-2) and Bears (3-3) are 5-9 in nine combined playoff appearances since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers left the division in 2002 (Of course, Tampa didn’t fit the rule of being from a state that touches one of the Great Lakes anyway, so good riddance). The Packers have gone 8-8 in the same span, with ten playoff appearances in those 13 years, and thanks to Sunday's win they aren’t slowing down.

Even though the Vikings (6), Lions (9), and Bears (1) have had 15 more top-ten draft picks than the Packers (2) over that span, the talent gap only seems to be widening. Rookies Davante Adams and Richard Rodgers have both tested positive for the "it" factor that Ted Thompson is known for, and Jordy Nelson (29) and Randall Cobb (24) are both wideouts whose careers put them on a trajectory for the Packers Hall of Fame at the very least. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has also seemed to earn his spot, if not yet his stripes, as the youngest member in a very deep and fairly young secondary.

All this as the NFL becomes a passing league. And with a 31-year-old Aaron Rodgers who only right now might be entering his prime. Go figure.

Perpetual motion is defined as an ideal mechanism that can operate eternally, effortlessly, without drawing on external energy. Scientists claim such a machine is impossible because of real-world variables such as friction. But the NFC North isn’t exactly known for its warmth.

The Vikings at least appear to be doing something right with Teddy Bridgewater. If he develops correctly, it’s possible Minnesota could be a perennial playoff contender in a couple of years. The Lions seem to have found their ceiling though, with two one-and-done playoff runs in recent years, and could very well lose their defense's heart and soul Ndamokung Suh this offseason. The Bears currently have no head coach, a brand new 37-year-old GM who’s never done the job before, and $32 million dollars tied up in Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall next season.

While the rest of the division jockeys for better draft position and gathers in prayer for a Packers loss Sunday in Seattle, nothing can change the 9-0 record the Packers put up at home this year.  The NFL knows what the NFC North has known a long time: the Packers rule the Great Lakes.

Now all that remains is to avenge the ghost of days past in Seattle and make another trip to the Super Bowl. That chance awaits in just a few short days.