The Patriots' unparalleled success for more than a decade can largely be attributed to coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady. (US Presswire)

The NFL wants to live in a world where everybody has the same size house, drives the same car and has a perfectly manicured lawn. Everyone would watch games on the same TV, with the same definition, and jealousy would never exist.

Roger Goodell wants to live in Pleasantville, and his brigade has done a good job creating that village by ensuring that all dots living outside of the curve on league’s scatter plot are quickly pulled back into the pack. In this world, good teams are forced to cannibalize one another, while the poor are helped back onto the path of success by being put in a class where they compete mostly against other remedial organizations. But as soon as one of the weaklings begins to excel, they’re quickly thrown back into the cage so the monsters can beat them back down to the status quo.

It makes for better TV, helps drive the bottom line and is supposed to ensure that no one ever rises too far above the pack.

Somehow, the New England Patriots have remained impervious to the injustices heaped upon the rich and managed to build what passes as a dynasty in the modern NFL.

The Patriots, who are 4-3 this year, haven’t suffered a losing season or even a .500 season since 2000, the longest active run in the NFL. During that time, they have won three Super Bowls and two other AFC titles.

Other franchises -- Pittsburgh, Baltimore, both New York teams, Green Bay, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Indianapolis -- have also risen above the pack for much of the last decade, but all have been caught in the parity trap at various points. Here’s a look at how many losing seasons each of these teams has had since 2001:

  • Steelers -- One losing season: (2003, 6-10) and one .500 season (2006)

  • Eagles -- One losing season: (2005, 6-10) and two .500 seasons (2007 and 2011)

  • Colts -- Two losing seasons: (2001, 6-10) and (2011, 2-14)

  • Packers -- Two losing seasons: (2005, 4-12), (2008, 6-10) and one .500 season (2006)

  • Ravens -- Three losing seasons: (2002, 7-9), (2005, 6-10), (2007, 5-11)

  • Jets -- Three losing seasons: (2003, 6-10), (2005, 4-12), (2007, 4-12) and one .500 season (2011)

  • Giants -- Three losing seasons: (2001, 7-9), 2003 (4-12), (2004, 6-10) and two .500 seasons (2006 and 2009)

  • Saints -- Three losing seasons: (2001, 7-9), (2005, 3-13), (2007, 7-9) and three .500 seasons (2003, 2004 and 2008)

With the league’s hidden forces now biting at the Patriots' heels, we began to wonder how exactly they have avoided it for so long. Here are our answers:

Belichick and Brady: Pairing one of the best coaches in history with one of the best quarterbacks ever is an easy way to ensure that your franchise will never experience the levels of losing that cities like Cleveland are forced to endure.

But Tom Brady and Bill Belichick bring more than just wisdom and talent to the table. They set the tone for the franchise with their undying pursuit of perfection -- a mentality that has influenced everyone in the organization from the players all the way down to coaching assistants.

Perhaps this was best illustrated in Belichick’s episode of “A Football Life,” when the Patriots coach was shown rallying his troops for a preseason game by letting them know that the exhibition was not to be taken lightly.

“I understand it’s not a game in the standings,” he said. “Let me tell you something: If you’re playing in a game or coaching in a game, it means something. Means something to me, means something to you. It’s an opportunity for us to establish our level of performance and build on it next week.”

The bottom line: Every detail matters, every repetition matters. Nothing is ever taken lightly. That mentality is necessary for success in Belichick’s system, since things are constantly evolving.

The coach has made his living out-scheming his opponents, and at times that puts a heavy burden on his players since he introduces new game plans and schemes each week that are designed to combat his opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.

From that constant tweaking, the Patriots birthed the two tight-end sets that have changed the way the rest of the league looks at the position. And while some questioned the genius label bestowed on Belichick after his defense finished 31st in the league last year, keep this in mind: He managed to get New England back to the Super Bowl by disguising the weaknesses of the unit while using wide receivers in the secondary.

Brady also deserves a good amount of credit. He eclipses the Patriots’ shortcomings by putting a ton of points on the board.

DT Vince Wilfork has been anchoring the Patriots defensive line for nine season and is one of only three players remaining from New England's 2004 Super Bowl team. (US Presswire)

Good drafting: Belichick has done well, with the exception of defensive backs. At that position, he routinely talks himself into going with the wrong guys, while the rest of the world can see that he’s about to be taken.

Over the last five years, he has selected seven DBs in the first or second round. Devin McCourty has emerged as the only viable starter. The rest of the lot is either eating up roster spots in other cities or battling it out on practice squads.

Those failures have caused some to question Belichick’s ability to properly identify college talent, but when you twist the kaleidoscope away from the secondary and look at all other areas of the roster you can see that he’s had a lot of success stories.

Since 2003, the Patriots have only had three picks within the first 20 picks, yet they’ve landed four All Pros. Only two selections can be considered busts.

Here’s a look at New England’s haul:

  • DT Ty Warren (2003, 13th overall) -- 2007 All Pro, started 92 games over seven seasons
  • DT Vince Wilfork (2004, 21) -- The four-time second-team All Pro continues to anchor the defensive line.

  • TE Ben Watson (2004, 32) -- Caught 20 touchdown passes for the Patriots over six seasons

  • OL Logan Mankins (2005, 32) -- Four-time All Pro 

  • RB Laurence Maroney (2006, 21) -- Rushed for more than 740 yards in each of his three full years before being dumped before the 2010 season

  • S Brandon Meriweather (2007, 24) -- Named to two Pro Bowl teams before being dumped before the 2011 season

  • LB Jerod Mayo (2008, 10) -- 2010 All Pro. Led NFL in tackles in 2010 and is the league’s current leader

  • CB Devin McCourty (2010, 27) -- Solid rookie season earned him a Pro Bowl trip. Was shaky last year. Jury is still out 

  • OL Nate Solder (2011, 17) -- Started 13 games last year across offensive line. Now the starter at left tackle

  • DE Chandler Jones (2012, 21) -- Already has five sacks as Patriots’ best pass rusher 

  • LB Dont’a Hightower (2012, 25) -- Starter on defense

Meriweather and Maroney had their tenures cut shorter than expected, and you could argue that there were better options than Watson, but Belichick has more hits in the first round over this span than most organizations.

The later rounds are where he’s done his best work. WR Deion Branch, OL Dan Koppen, DB Asante Samuel, OL Matt Light, Brady, LB Brandon Spikes, TE Rob Gronkowski, TE Aaron Hernandez and RB Stevan Ridley were all drafted outside of the first round.

The reason for this success can be found in Belichick’s approach to team building. He looks to get the most out of each pick, which sometimes means trading down. And while others go with the best player available in later rounds, he always drafts with a specific role in mind.

Undrafted players: Speaking of value, few teams have been as successful as the Patriots at grabbing scraps off the scrap heap and polishing them into gold -- or at least passable pyrite.

RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, LB Dane Fletcher, DL Mike Wright, OL Dan Connolly, OL Stephen Neal, OL Ryan Wendell, DL Kyle Love and CB Kyle Arrington were all pulled off the street by Belichick and turned into viable NFL players.

He was also able to spot under-used players, such as RB Danny Woodhead and WR David Patten and turn them into key contributors.

Perhaps his biggest steal was Wes Welker, also an undrafted player, who ended up being the best second-round pick Belichick ever spent.

Team building: Belichick is shrewd. He doesn’t care who you are or what you’ve done for him. When the time comes to move on, he’ll send anyone packing, regardless of stature.

He’ll never allow a player to become bigger than the organization, overpay for talent or let his roster become too old. It’s a cold approach, but Belichick would walk through the Arctic with icepacks stuffed in his boots if it meant winning a few more games.

Ty Law, Mike Vrabel, Randy Moss, Richard Seymour, Branch and Samuel are just a few players that Belichick has unceremoniously parted ways with in recent years.

Only Brady, Branch and Wilfork remain from the 2004 Super Bowl team. Just imagine how uncomfortable it’s going to be in a few years if Belichick outlasts Brady and decides that his quarterback’s time is finished before Brady does.

The fact that Belichick is willing to subject himself to criticism by quickly cutting ties with players he’s missed on has also been instrumental in the team’s success.

The AFC East: We aren’t saying that the AFC East is soft, even if New England has been favored in all but two divisional games since 2005 -- with the exception of the “Lost Year of 2008,” when Brady was hurt but the team still managed to go 11-5.

But the team’s success has started at home. Since 2001, the Patriots are 55-15 against the Bills, Dolphins and Jets, giving them the best divisional record in the NFL over that span.

The Pats have been even better at home against divisional foes, where they’ve compiled a 26-5 record since 2002, the year Gillette Stadium opened.

Having six games per year against beatable opponents goes a long way toward achieving sustained success, and it’s just one other explanation for why the Patriots have been the best team in football in the 21st century.

Nick Underhill covers the Patriots for Follow him on Twitter @CBSPats or @Nick_Underhill.