The NFC North is a division of the National Football League (NFL)’s National Football Conference (NFC), based in the Upper Midwest region of the United States. Nicknamed the “Black & Blue Division” for the rough and tough rivalry games between the teams, it currently has four members: the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, and Minnesota Vikings. The NFC North was previously known as the NFC Central from 1970 to 2001. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were previously members, from 1977, one year after they joined the league as an expansion team, until 2001 when they moved to the NFC South.
The division was created in 1967 as the Central Division of the NFL’s Western Conference and existed for three seasons before the AFL–NFL merger. After the merger, it was renamed the NFC Central and retained that name until the NFL split into eight divisions in 2002. The four current division teams have been together in the same division or conference since the Vikings joined the league in 1961. The Bears, Lions and Packers have been in the same division or conference since the NFL began a conference format in 1933. Largely because the four teams have played each other at least twice a year, with the exception of the strike-shortened 1982 season, for more than half a century (more than 80 years in the case of the Bears, Lions and Packers), the entire division is considered one very large rivalry.
Based on the combined ages of its current teams, the NFC North is the oldest division in the NFL, at a combined 336 years old. The Bears are 96 years old (founded in 1919 in Decatur, Illinois; moved to Chicago in 1921), the Packers are also 96 years old (founded in 1919, but turned professional in 1921), the Lions are 88 years old (founded 1929 in Portsmouth, Ohio; moved to Detroit in 1934), and the Vikings are 56 years old (founded 1961). The division has a total of 11 Super Bowl appearances. The Packers have the most appearances in the Super Bowl with 5, the most recent happening at the conclusion of the 2010 season. The Bears and the Packers have the only Super Bowl wins of this division, a total of 5 (4 for the Packers and 1 for the Bears). Of the top 10 NFL teams with the highest winning percentage throughout its franchise history, three of them are in the NFC North (the Bears, the Packers, and the Vikings). The Lions however, have one of the lowest winning percentages in the NFL, including the only win less 16-game season in NFL history, in 2008.
Entering 2014 the Bears led the division with an overall record of 730–534–42, victory in Super Bowl XX and eight pre-Super Bowl league titles; Chicago’s overall playoff record is 17–18. The Packers hold an overall record of 698–537–36 with an overall playoff record of 30–18, four Super Bowl titles in five Super Bowl appearances, and nine pre-Super Bowl league titles – bringing the Packers to a total of 13 World Championships, currently the most in the NFL. The Lions hold a record of 517–620–32, four league championships, and a 7–11 playoff record. As the youngest (in terms of franchise age) team in the division, the Vikings hold a record of 431–365–9, a playoff record of 19–27, and had won a league title the season before the merger (although they subsequently lost Super Bowl IV).
This division earned the moniker “Black and Blue Division” due to its intense rivalries and physical style of play, and this nickname is still used regularly today. It is also known as the “Frostbite Division” as all teams played home games in late season winter cold until the mid-1970s. The division is also humorously called the “Frozen North”, although Detroit has played its home games indoors since 1975, and Minnesota also did so from 1982 to 2013 and returned to indoor home games at U.S. Bank Stadium in 2016. ESPN sportscaster Chris Berman often refers to this division as the “NFC Norris” because of its geographical similarity to the National Hockey League’s former Norris Division.