The Miami Dolphins (a team that allowed more points than they scored) managed to edge out the Tennessee Titans (who they lost to in the regular season) to earn a wild card berth last season (by squeaking out a December overtime victory against the 7-9 Bills). Not an amazing accomplishment on it’s own, but it broke a 5 year streak of the AFC East not fielding a single wild card team.
The Patriots and Packers are both riding 8-year long playoff streaks (1 shy of tying the all-time NFL record), but make no mistake about it: the Packers streak is far more impressive.
Later, I’ll check the spam filter for “Yah, da Pats is wicked gud, skeezah!”
But here’s the reality: during that 5-year streak that preceded the Dolphins wild card season, the AFC East only had two teams (the 2015 Jets at 10-6 and the 2014 Bills at 9-7) besides the Patriots to even post a winning record. During that same 5-year streak, the NFC North had 5 teams besides the Packers post double-digit wins!
While the AFC East fielded 0 wild card teams in that 5 year stretch, the NFC North has sent wild card teams to the playoffs in 7 of the last 8 seasons (including your 2010 world champion Green Bay Packers).
Even when Aaron Rodgers was knocked out for most of the 2013 season, the Packers still battled and rallied to the division title. Meanwhile, the Pats lost Brady to injury in 2008 and that was the last time they didn’t make the playoffs, not even as a wild card.
For the Pats, getting 6 free wins per year makes it easy to get a bye, then you play a team with an injured star (this year it was the quarterback-less, Watt-less Texans) and you’re in the title game with a 50-50 chance to go to the Super Bowl (this year, it was the flu-stricken Steelers). Wow, what a tough road to hoe. It’s the story of every Patriots playoff run… well, that and all the cheating that mars every ring they’ve ever won.
The Pats are a good team, but their 8-year playoff streak has been aided greatly by getting 6 wins from a pathetic division with no competition every season. The Packers, meanwhile, have battled it out with contenders every single year to earn their streak.