Regardless of pride, we can’t deny that some teams simply outperform one another. Whether their players cheat (you know who you are) or their patrons provide the best training facilities, only one team can win the annual title of Super Bowl Champion. But what about the fans? You cheered louder, tailgated harder and even splurged on a foam finger—shouldn’t you get some recognition? Well dear friend, today you do!
Our sports analysts compiled data from seven key categories and created a 1-100 scaled ranking system to determine which team boasts the most loyal fandom in the NFL. The categories they examined are as follows:
- Technological stats: Google Trends (past five years), TV ratings and social media followers (Facebook and Twitter) displayed which teams are being searched for, watched and followed.
- Playoff appearances: A team is only as good as its fans. (For more information, see Seattle Seahawks.)
- Average game attendance (home and away, past five years): Regardless of the team
Keep reading to discover how your fandom stacks up against the competition!
#1 – Dallas Cowboys | Arlington, TX
Fan Loyalty Score: 99.63
The scoreboard doesn’t lie—it’s truly a #CowboysNation, and the rest of us are just living in it. The Texas-based fandom takes the victory with 12.43 million social media followers, a $5 billion franchise value, 33 playoff appearances, an average home game attendance of 100.82 percent and an annual revenue of $864 million. The Cowboys don’t make an appearance on the NFL Top 100 list until No. 34 (Demarcus Lawrence , DE), but do their fans care? No! The Cowboys are best in the league! Their cheerleaders are known across the country! Their logo is simple and likable and screams “TEXAS!” Does your team have 33 playoff appearances? If not, sit down.
#2 – New England Patriots | Foxboro, MA
Fan Loyalty Score: 85.39
If you’re reading this and you like the Patriots, you’re probably smirking. If you’re reading this and you’re not a Patriots fan, well, welcome to the majority population. The 2019 Super Bowl Champions still fall behind 8 teams for their total playoff appearances—they’re currently tied with the 49ers, Eagles and Bears at 26—but they raked in a whopping $593 million in 2018, and had 11.36 million social media followers as of September 2018. Tom Brady may be first on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2018 list but since he left the team, it will be interesting to see how the Patriots perform in years to come.
#3 – Green Bay Packers | Green Bay, WI
Fan Loyalty Score: 76.13
Packers fans really do pack—an average of 78,139 of them fill Lambeau Field for each game. They hold the highest average home game attendance in the league at 104.8 percent, which we didn’t even know was possible. In its 100 year history, the team has celebrated four Super Bowl championships and 32 playoff appearances. A high Google Trends score (15.81) and TV rating (10.75) made up for moderate revenue ($434 million) and franchise value ($2.625 billion) to land Packers fans the No. 3 spot on the Most Loyal Fandoms list. Because, really—with Aaron Rodgers and cheese-shaped hats, what’s not to love?
#4 – Pittsburgh Steelers | Pittsburgh, PA
Fan Loyalty Score: 75.00
The Patriots may have tied up the score for most Super Bowl wins, but make no mistake—the Steelers were there first. Coming in at number four, Steeler Nation boasts some of the most loyal fans in the league. Their “Terrible Towel”—one of the most recognizable symbols in football—is waved by fans across the nation. It’s even traveled to the peak of Mount Everest and the International Space Station. While the team’s revenue and game attendance stats are the lowest of the top five fandoms, Steeler fans need not worry—they have 32 playoff appearances to brag about. They also amount to the third-largest social media following in the league with a total of 9.83 million.
#5 – New York Giants | East Rutherford, NJ
Fan Loyalty Score: 69.34
As far as hometown pride goes, New Yorkers are particularly proud of their roots—which is why it’s no surprise that despite their team’s recent struggles, Giants fans rank as the fifth most loyal in the NFL. With four Super Bowl championships and 32 playoff appearances under their belt (they’re tied with the Packers for the second most in the league), their pride certainly isn’t misplaced. The team also boasts the third-highest annual revenue ($493 million) and franchise value (3.3 billion) in the league, along with 5.73 million social media followers. A giant payout and a giant fan base for a giant team. Seems fitting.
Fan Loyalty Score: 68.53
The Eagles fandom brings a 101.78 percent average home game attendance record, a 97.14 percent average away game attendance record, 26 playoff appearances (plus one Super Bowl victory), $458 million in revenue, 6.28 million social media fans, a Google trends score of 11.24 and an average TV rating of 9.76 to the table. It also brings some snowballs (too much?). What we’re trying to say is, don’t mess with the Eagles fans. They’ve had an average home game attendance of 100 percent (or higher) every year since 1999. Talk about bragging rights.
Fan Loyalty Score: 67.54
The Seahawks fandom earned its high rank thanks to, well, itself. The 11 players on the field may do most of the heavy lifting, but their 12th Man—the nickname for their stadium crowds—brings integral support from the sidelines. In 1984, Seahawks President Mike McCormack retired the number 12 jersey in honor of the Seahawks fans, a group which is known for its extreme noise levels inside the stadium (even if the Chiefs’ fandom currently holds the record). The team doesn’t have the highest revenue ($472 million) or franchise value ($3.08 billion), but a high Google Trends score (13.32) shows that fans are paying attention. Keep it up, 12s.
Fan Loyalty Score: 66.14
Three Super Bowl victories, 22 playoff appearances, an 11.75 Google Trends score, 7.09 million social media followers and an annual revenue of $427 million are all impressive numbers, but the Broncos fandom’s most impressive stats are its game attendance. Fans’ five-year attendance averages total to 100.7 percent at home and 96.6 percent on the road. Their 2018 overall game attendance ranked fifth in the league at 97.4 percent. With rosters that featured Hall of Famers like John Elway and Peyton Manning (and male cheerleaders like Robin Williams), how could Broncos fans not be loyal?
Fan Loyalty Score: 65.14
Ask any Bears fan what’s so great about the team and you’ll be thrown into a dissertation on the 1985 Super Bowl Champions, often labeled one of the Greatest NFL Teams of All Time. Even if the Bears haven’t been able to replicate their thrilling ‘85 season—maybe they should bring back Jim McMahon-esque sweatbands?—their fans’ loyalty has remained unwavering. With $431 million in revenue in and 5.79 million social media followers, the Monsters of the Midway have an enviable support system. Hopefully the combined power of Mitchell Trubisky (QB), Khalil Mack (LB) and new coach Matt Nagy can bring fans a thrilling 2019 season.
Fan Loyalty Score: 64.05
Carrying us into the top 10, the 49ers boast the seventh-most social media followers (6.28 million), the sixth-highest franchise value ($3.05 billion), an annual revenue of $470 million, 26 playoff appearances and five Super Bowl titles (tied with the Cowboys for second-most championships). Despite repeatedly high statistics across the board, the 49ers fandom were hurt by their Google Trends score (8.65). We’ll assume that because 49ers fans have high game attendance scores, they don’t need to search the World Wide Web for the highlights later on.
Fan Loyalty Score: 60.75
Coming in at No. 11, Panthers fans toe the top 10 line. Their high ranking was a product of good TV ratings (9.6 avg.), a fair Google Trends score (7.12) and a shining game attendance record—the seventh-highest in the league, with a five-year average of 100 percent home game attendance. Does it help that Cam Newton (QB) and Luke Kuechly (LB) are two of the NFL Top 20 Players of 2018? Or that Christian McCaffrey (RB) holds the current record for most receptions by a running back? Sure, but if the Panthers fandom wants a shot at No. 1, they’ll have to #keeppounding.
Fan Loyalty Score: 60.58
Washington fandom doesn’t have the best game attendance record (84.58 percent average), but with 24 playoff appearances—five ending in Super Bowl appearances, three of which they won—and a franchise value of $3.1 billion, they have plenty of other good stats hoisting them up to the No. 12 spot. Many sports critics sense Washington fans’ decreasing enthusiasm, and fingers are pointing at team owner Daniel Snyder for the loss of team pride. We hope to see the team fandom this high on the list next year, but maybe under better management.
Fan Loyalty Score: 60.57
The Saints may not have the highest franchise value ($2.05 billion) or the most playoff appearances (12), but they do have one Super Bowl championship, which is more than plenty of teams can say. Their 98.92 percent average home game attendance and 10.16 average TV rating prove that fans are watching, win or lose. With three players—Drew Brees (QB), Alvin Kamara (RB) and Cameron Jordan (DE)—appearing in the first 30 of the NFL Top 100 Players of 2018 list, the Saints fandom knows its team walks the talk. As for the haters? You can KMB (kiss my billboard).
Fan Loyalty Score: 60.51
It’s a good thing the Vikings have a big, fancy new stadium—they’ll need great seats for all their loyal fans! The team has a whopping 29 playoff appearances, a 10.12 average TV rating, and a 97.42 home game attendance average. Plus, if you haven’t seen the Vikings’ “Skol” chant, watch it right now. It’s loud, it’s viking-y, and it even includes a massive Gjallarhorn. Because what football game is complete without a Gjallarhorn? Although the Vikings haven’t been able to pull a trophy out of their four Super Bowl appearances, their fans stay by their side regardless. #FTP, am I right?
Fan Loyalty Score: 59.29
4.15 million social media followers, a franchise valued at $2.6 billion, $451 million in annual revenue, and a 97.82 percent home game attendance average—the Falcons fans aren’t doing too bad for themselves. They don’t have the most playoff appearances (14) and they don’t have any Super Bowl wins (sorry guys, forget we mentioned it), but they do have Matt Ryan (QB), who was, for a moment, the top-paid player in the NFL at $30 million a year. At least the Falcons fans can sleep at night knowing their players are well taken care of.
Fan Loyalty Score: 59.14
There are two groups who deliver regardless of the weather—the U.S. Postal Service and the defending champion Chiefs fandom. Fans’ business-as-usual tailgating during extreme weather conditions has repeatedly put them in the news. Their team may not have the most playoff appearances (22) or annual revenue ($435 million), but it has an average TV rating of 9.6 and a 97.22 percent home game attendance average. Chiefs fans also hold the Guiness World Record for loudest crowd roar at a sports stadium. Your move, Seahawks.
Fan Loyalty Score: 58.21
Shining TV ratings (9.67 avg.), high home game attendance records (101.46 percent) and a hefty collection of playoff appearances (28) helped the Colts club climb up the fandom ladder, even if their team value ($2.38 billion) and revenue ($373 million) falls on the lower end of the spectrum. Fans lay claim to the “Greatest Game Ever Played,” or the 1958 NFL Championship game that launched football into the all-American sport we know and love today. They also lay partial claim to Peyton Manning, and full claim to the 2018 AFC Coach of the Year, Frank Reich.
Fan Loyalty Score: 57.06
With Aaron Donald on your defensive line, there’s really nothing your team can’t handle. Not that the Rams’ fans would know—with a home game attendance record of 80.48 percent, they’re the least-present fans in the league. Their team has the fourth-highest franchise value at $3.2 billion, but the sixth-lowest revenue at $366 million. We’re not saying game attendance and revenue are correlated… but they’re correlated. Hopefully the team’s new stadium (shared with the Chargers) attracts bigger crowds when it opens next year.
Fan Loyalty Score: 55.93
With 23 playoff appearances, $414 million in revenue and an average TV rating of 7.5, the Dolphins fandom ranks right in the middle of the list. Their 100.12 percent home game attendance record means the Hard Rock Stadium is regularly packed to capacity. As the only team to ever have an undefeated season and win the Super Bowl, their fans have pretty unique bragging rights. Of course, that was in 1972, and the team hasn’t performed the same since. But #FinsUp, Dolphins fans—a new season is coming!
Fan Loyalty Score: 55.74
Meet our highest-ranking fandom with no Super Bowl appearances—the Houston Texans!
The Texans were only introduced to the NFL in 2002, so we’ll cut them some slack for having the fewest playoff appearances in the league (five). The team boasts one of the highest 2018 revenues at $464 million and a stunning home game attendance record at 100.76 percent. In fact, the NRG Stadium was sold out for 163 consecutive games entering the 2018 season. Look out, Cowboys—there’s a new fandom in town.
Fan Loyalty Score: 55.53
Despite having an excellent away game attendance record (98 percent) and a fair social media following (3.22 million), the Lions fandom’s ranking suffers from having the second-lowest franchise value ($1.7 billion) and the fourth-lowest team revenue ($361 million). With no Super Bowl appearances resulting from their 17 playoff appearances, it’s no wonder money is tight. Veteran player Clover Quinn (S) is off the 2019 roster, but with the No. 8 spot in the upcoming draft, the Lions might have a shot at some great new talent. In the meantime, fans should start buying tickets and merch to move their ranking higher up the list.
Fan Loyalty Score: 55.33
The Ravens rank pretty centrally in all of the stats we examined—slightly higher-than-average 2018 revenue ($417 million), moderate social media following (3.79 million) and average team value ($2.59 billion). However, despite two Super Bowl championships, the team’s 11 playoff appearances pull them lower on the list. With star player Joe Flacco off to join the Broncos (pour one out), fans will need to show more support than ever and help Lamar Jackson (QB) carry the team to victory in 2019.
Fan Loyalty Score: 54.97
Despite having a fair number of social media followers (4.82 million), three Super Bowl championships, plenty of playoff appearances (22) and a mid-level franchise value ($2.42 billion), the Raiders flunked their ranking with a few unsavory stats. The team sits at the bottom of the 2018 revenue list ($335 million), is second-to-last for TV ratings (5.73) and has the seventh-lowest home game attendance record (94.1 percent). Maybe fans were just angry this year after losing Khalil Mack (DE) to the Bears? We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
Fan Loyalty Score: 52.80
The Jets may have the eighth-highest franchise value ($2.85 billion) and the ninth-highest 2018 revenue ($443 million), but with the lowest TV rating in the league (4.76), you won’t find them close to the top of the fandom list. The team might have one more Super Bowl title than 12 of its competitors (whom have none), but the Jets haven’t made it back to the championships since Super Bowl III—which was half a century ago. We’re not exaggerating.
Fan Loyalty Score: 52.79
Although the Browns are tied with the Colts for the fifth-most playoff appearances (28) in the league, they’ve never made it to the Super Bowl. The team’s revenue ($375 million), franchise value ($1.95 billion), social media following (2.29 million) and average home game attendance (91.04 percent) are all on the lower-middle end of the spectrum, but if the viral coverage of their 2018 win over the Jets is any evidence, we know the Browns’ fans still care. Even if their team did go 635 days without a win, at least they were rewarded with free beer.
Fan Loyalty Score: 49.64
With 18 playoff appearances, four Super Bowl appearances and no championship trophies, you could say that Bills fans are… patient. Their home game attendance is on the low side with an average of 92.98 percent, but their away game attendance is one of the highest at 98.28 percent. While the Bills fandom had fairly low stats across the board, its ranking was most likely dragged down by the team’s value—the second-lowest in the league at $2.05 billion. Of course, we’re sure the Bills are No. 1 in the hearts of their fans… right?
Fan Loyalty Score: 49.02
It’s been 16 years since the Buccaneers won their first and only Super Bowl trophy. The team has one of the lowest Google Trends scores (2.9), social media followings (1.67 million), playoff appearance records (10) and average home game attendance records (90.1 percent) in the league, but they rank fairly well for revenue—$383 million in 2018. Looks like fans aren’t buying tons of tickets, but they must be buying something. Jerseys? Beers? The Buccaneers may not hear the verbal cheers of their supporters, but at least they feel the monetary love.
Fan Loyalty Score: 48.77
The fourth-lowest average TV rating (6.08), the third-lowest Google Trends score (3.26), the third-lowest social media following (1.63 million) and the second-lowest average away game attendance (94.64 percent)—the Titans fans are M.I.A. Although, with 22 playoff appearances and only one unsuccessful championship appearance, we can understand why they aren’t showing their team more love. Titans fans need to bring the heat in the 2019 season so their team remembers who they’re fighting for!
Fan Loyalty Score: 48.44
With 19 playoff appearances, a franchise value of $2.275 billion and fairly high game attendance records, Chargers fans have a few stats keeping them off the bottom rung. Unfortunately, their team has the second-lowest 2018 revenue at $346 million. That, combined with a mediocre social media following, a lukewarm Google Trends score and okay TV ratings keeps them tied to the lower end of the list. The Chargers finished their 2018 season strong, and with a quarterback like Philip Rivers on the roster, we’re not sure why this fandom isn’t higher on the list. Maybe next year?
Fan Loyalty Score: 48.30
In 1981, the Bengals beat the San Diego Chargers 27-7 at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium and won the AFC championship game. With an air temperature of −9 °F and a wind chill of −37 °F, the game is now known as the “Freezer Bowl”—one of the coldest NFL games on record. Due to this, we don’t blame the Bengals fans for having one of the lowest average game attendance records in the league (87.52 percent). Their other poor stats, however, are harder to chalk up to low temperatures.
Fan Loyalty Score: 48.21
Glad to have beaten the Cardinals fandom? Don’t let it get to your head. The Jaguars fandom missed the last place slot by a narrow 0.27 points. The team has the second-fewest playoff appearances (seven to the Texans’ five) and is one of four teams with no Super Bowl appearances. This may be why the team also has the fewest followers on Twitter and Facebook. Star players Calais Campbell (DE) and Jalen Ramsey (CB) might be known throughout the league, but their fans? Not so much. Looks like the poolside cabanas at the TIAA Bank Field weren’t enough to entice more Jaguars enthusiasts. Maybe they should add a slide!
Fan Loyalty Score: 47.94
Sorry Cardinals fans, you might want to sit down for this. With a total score of 47.94, your fandom falls in last place. We tried to ease the pain by putting you first though! (You’re welcome!) While you weren’t last in all categories—you beat the Jaguars for lowest social media following—consistently low scores across the board left you on the bottom rung. To help your fandom step up its game, we’d advise you to attend more games and hit that “like” button!
Want to see your team move up the ladder next year? You may not control every aspect of your team’s winning streak, but you can buy merch, go to games (away games, too) and follow them on social! You wouldn’t want your rivals to rank higher than you, right? Supporting your team can be tough if you’re living out of state or can’t afford those crazy ticket prices. Luckily. DIRECTV offers NFL SUNDAY TICKET, so you can catch all the action without leaving the couch. Choose your package today and start enjoying all your favorite teams, players and touchdowns.
Sources for this piece: espn.com, forbes.com, google trends, sportsmediawatch.com, pro-football-reference.com, fanpagelist.com