Across the 2021 season there was an average attendance of 67,288 fans at each NFL game and 17 million more watching on TV. Each team in the world’s most profitable sporting league can draw on an army of fans to help support their bid for Super Bowl success each season. But which fans are the most passionate about their team?
To find out, Betting.com compiled more than 10,000 fan comments per team from official social media game day posts for each franchise. These posts were then analyzed to assess the strength of their sentiment and passion.
The Passion Rankings
Passionate Patriots – New England top list
Six-time Super Bowl champions the Patriots have earned their share of passionate fans. This support is embodied by “The Silver Bullet” Keith Birchall, known for painting his face in a distinctive silver color for each and every game.
Birchall’s support of the New England Patriots helped them come out top of the NFL when it comes to fans’ passion. They are over 11% more passionate about their team than the average NFL fan, with their comments being an average of 41% passionate. Three Super Bowls in the last ten years will certainly have helped, with fans keen to celebrate the success of their franchise.
The New York Giants take second place, with their fans 7% more passionate than average. Their fans not only support the team on social media, they also rank in the top three for average attendance for the 2022 season. Giants fans are truly passionate about the success of the franchise.
Finishing in third are the Miami Dolphins, their comments being 38.5% passionate, a shade under 5% higher than the league average. They come out sixteen spots above fellow Florida natives the Jaguars. Despite not winning a Super Bowl since the early 70s, the Dolphins can count on their fans’ passion for the team.
Just off the podium are one of the league’s oldest franchises, the Green Bay Packers. Finishing incredibly close behind the Dolphins in the rankings Green Bay can take solace in the fact they are fourth for attendance across the 2022 season, and a waiting list of 140,000 names for a season ticket shows fans devotion.
Rounding out the top five are the Philadelphia Eagles with their fans 3.2% more passionate than the league average. As the current NFC Champions and Super Bowl contenders in 2023 there is a lot for Eagles fans to be passionate about.
Vikings passion fails to ignite online
Bottom of the list are the Minnesota Vikings, they fall over 10% below the NFL average fan base for passion. Winners of the 2022 NFC North Championship undoubtedly have passionate fans who brave the cold weather each week to travel to U.S. Bank Stadium to watch the Vikings play but online they struggle. Without a major Super Bowl or conference title they have little to shout about and their fanbase falls flat.
2009 Super Bowl champions the Saints finish in second to last spot. The famous easy-going nature of New Orleans is infecting its football fans, they sit 8% less passionate than the NFL average. Despite winning 4 of the last 6 divisional championships they have contested, their success isn’t reflected in how the team is spoken about online. Similar to the Vikings they may need a major championship win to reinvigorate their fanbase.
The Houston Texans finish third from bottom. This may not be a huge surprise given the fact the team only began playing in the NFL in 2002, fans need time to grow passionate about their team. Given a few more years to grow the Titans may inch their way up the list.
Fourth come the Los Angeles Rams, 2021 Super Bowl winners. It may be a surprise to see a team with a prominent winning record so low on the list. But moving a team will always reduce the love fans have for the franchise and the 20 years stint in St Louis won’t have helped passion levels. Rams fans sit 7% less passionate than NFL averages.
Atlanta finishes fifth from bottom, with Falcons fans 5% lower than the NFL average. Another team without a Vince Lombardi trophy in the trophy cabinet their fans have little to truly shout about aside from a couple of conference championships. They may be in the top 15 for attendance but the Falcons are bottom five for passion.
Which Fans Win Their Rivalry?
Sports rivalries have existed as long as the league and they often transcend the sport with cities competing over bragging rights. The study analyzed some of the biggest rivalries in the NFL and compared the passion of each fan base to see who comes out on top.
Packers vs Bears
The most played rivalry across the NFL. The Packers have won 51% of those games, however they also take an overall victory when it comes to passion. Their fans’ statements are, on average, 2% more passionate than those in Chicago, earning them a spot 18 places higher in the rankings.
Giants vs Eagles
New York beats Philidelphia when it comes to fans’ passion for the leading NFL team. Another close rivalry on the field the teams are closely matched for passion in the stands. Giants fans coming out on top by 1%, every message counts.
Vikings vs Packers
Relatively even in terms of results there is a clear difference when it comes to fans passion on social media. The Packers outrank the Vikings by 28 spots, no other rivalry works out so mismatched.
Cowboys vs Giants
One of the most one-sided on-field rivalries with the Cowboys leading having a win rate of 60%. Giants fans can however boast being nine spots higher on the passion rankings, the Cowboys failing to break into the top ten. Dallas may get fans into the stadium but online they lack the passion of Giants fans.
Cowboys vs Eagles
A 60-year rivalry between two of the oldest franchises in the NFL. The Cowboys have been victorious 57% of the time but yet again they lose out when it comes to fans’ passion online. Sitting six places higher in the ranking Philly takes the passion prize between the two NFC East franchises.
NFL fans are some of the most passionate in the country, some braving freezing conditions to watch their teams compete. They are not always rewarded but it would seem some fans stick by their rivals more than others. But fans show their support in many different ways, the 90,000 Dallas natives cheering in the AT&T Stadium will get in an opposing quarterback’s head more than any social media thread could.
Betting.com compiled more than 10,000 comments per team from fans on official Reddit game day posts from each franchise. These posts were analyzed for the strength of their sentiment using a natural language toolkit model which gave a passion value between 0 and 1, which could be turned into a percentage score.