The Green Bay Packers picked up a massive yet nail-biting win on the field over the Baltimore Ravens in Week 15. In the standings, the Packers picked up an equally as impressive win, clinching the NFC North for the third-straight year.
The North has been Green Bay’s to lose lately, and with another divisional title under their belt, the Packers are in the midst of a run in the division that can only be described as dominant.
The Super Bowl is the main goal in Green Bay, but winning the division is still special for the Packers.
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers are savoring another NFC North title
With as much as Aaron Rodgers has accomplished during his time in Green Bay, especially as it relates to his dominance in the division, one might think that another NFC North crown would feel a bit ho-hum.
Rodgers has now won the NFC North an incredible nine times with the Packers. That includes a stretch of four seasons in a row, from 2011-2014, and now three seasons in a row under head coach Matt LaFleur.
The dominance is not something the three-time MVP is taking for granted.
“You have to savor these a little bit,” Rodgers said after the win over Baltimore, according to ESPN. “These are special. It’s just the first step in our goals, but a lot of times the coach speak — I’m not saying that Matt did this — but a lot of times there might be coach speak that takes over and says, ‘Hey, you know this is just one goal and we have bigger goals and stuff,’ but I think it’s important to keep that perspective on how special accomplishing this is three years in a row and so just to enjoy it, to savor it, savor these moments. These are special moments.”
How many times have the Packers won the NFC North?
The North is sometimes known as the “black and blue division” because of the hard-nosed football that has come to characterize games between divisional opponents. That’s typically been the brand of football played in the NFC North, especially as the weather gets cold, but no matter the playing style…in-division games are never a cakewalk.
The division was actually known as the NFC Central from 1970 to 2001. It was rebranded to the NFC North in 2002 when the Houston Texans were added to the league as an expansion team, and the NFL realigned everything into eight divisions.
Since that realignment and the creation of the NFC North, the Packers have won the division 12 times, including the crown the 2021 Packers just won.
Going all the way back to the creation of the NFC Central in 1970, the Packers have won the division 16 times.
In that span, the Minnesota Vikings still have the most divisional championships with 18, much in thanks to a dominant run in the 1970s. The Chicago Bears have won the division 11 times, while the Detroit Lions have won it just three times, with their last division title coming in 1993.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were previously members of the division, from 1997 to the realignment in 2002. The Buccaneers won the NFC Central three times but were never part of the NFC North.
Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur has dominated the NFC North
Rodgers gets all the headlines with divisional opponents because they’ve seen him largely dominate NFC North since taking over as the starter in Green Bay in 2008. Before Rodgers, much of the ire of the rest of the division was directed at Brett Favre, who won the division seven times with the Packers, including two separate stints of securing three division titles in a row (1995-1997 and 2002-2004) Fun fact: Favre also won the division as starting quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings in 2009.
For as much as Rodgers currently owns the NFC North, and specifically the Bears, it’s time to start giving LaFleur some credit for what he’s been able to do in the division over his first three years as head coach.
Since taking over the head coaching gig in 2019, all LaFleur has done is win three straight divisional titles and lead the Packers to two-straight NFC Championship games. Currently, the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoff picture, Green Bay is a favorite to make the NFC Championship again.
LaFleur was able to get over some of the “coach speak” aspects of winning the title again, though he made it clear that the Packers still have their eye on the ultimate prize.
“Well, that is always the first goal is you have to win your division,” LaFleur said, according to Forbes. “That guarantees you a home playoff game and it really gets you in the dance, and that’s ultimately what you’d like to do. I think it’s fair to say that the ultimate goal is everybody has the same ultimate goal, and that’s to be the last team standing at the end of the year. And until we do that, I don’t think we’ll be satisfied.”
LaFleur is 14-2 against NFC North opponents since taking over as head coach. With the Vikings and Lions still left on the schedule, there’s a good chance he finishes his first three regular seasons with an incredible 16-2 record against the North.
LaFleur and the Packers may not be satisfied yet, but it’s hard to argue with his results over the past three seasons.