Which NFL franchise has the best fans has been a wildly debated topic for years. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers both have incredibly loyal followings with fanbases that are capable of taking over opposing teams’ stadiums for road games. The Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs are the two teams known for having the loudest fans and best home field advantage in the league. The Denver Broncos have sold out every home game since the start of the 1970 season. And last but not least, we couldn’t go on without mentioning the maniacal fanbase of the Oakland Raiders. Interestingly enough, the aforementioned six teams aren’t even among the top five best fanbases in the league today according to a study out of Emory University.
The study, conducted by Mike Lewis and Manish Tripathi, used 15 years of data on team performance, ticket prices, market populations, median incomes, won-loss records and multiple other factors. Furthermore, they created “statistical models of box office revenue, and then see which teams over- and under- perform the model’s predictions.” What they came away with is a concept that they termed “Fan Equity.”
Before going much further, we feel like we need to point out that the following list is not indicative of our opinions at The Cheat Sheet. Any list of the best fans in the NFL that doesn’t include the Packers or the Steelers is hard for us to take seriously. With that being said, this study is one of the first of its kind where the researchers were able to do their best to be completely objective in their rankings of all 32 fanbases around the league. Without further ado, here is a look at the five best fanbases in the NFL today.
5. New York Jets
Despite their lack of on-field success and the all-around frustration that they cause their fans, the Jets consistently attract sellout crowds at premium prices. New York sports fans are traditionally some of the most loyal in the country. In 2014, the Jets averaged 78,160 fans per home game, which was the third-highest total in the league. With that, the average ticket price for a Jets home game last year was $105.66. That was for a team that went 4-12; imagine what the franchise could charge for tickets if the team was actually competitive.
4. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens have been one of the most successful franchises in the NFL since they made the move from Cleveland to Baltimore in 1996. In 2014, the Ravens averaged 71,044 fans per home game at an average ticket price of $100.19. As one of the largest markets in the league, it should come as no surprise that Ravens tickets may be hard to come by in Baltimore. Based on the formula of this study, the Ravens will almost always rank near the top of this list.
3. New York Giants
The Giants are in a very similar situation to the Jets, the team they share MetLife Stadium with, except for the fact that the Giants have given their fans two Super Bowl titles to celebrate in the last eight years. In 2014, the Giants averaged 78,967 fans per home game, which was the second-highest average attendance in the league, and charged an average ticket price of $111.69, which was the third-highest total in the league. Based on this formula, you can safely assume that both NFL teams located in New York – the largest market in the league – will always be ranked near the top.
2. New England Patriots
The Patriots are in the midst of one of the most successful runs in NFL history. You can say what you want about their morals or their ethics, but there is no denying that they are a dynasty. The combination of market size, on-field success, and attendance figures – 68,756 fans per home game – make it no surprise that the Pats finished near the top of this list. The most telling statistic, however, is the fact that fans were willing to pay an average of $122, the highest average price in the league, for a ticket to a Patriots’ home game in 2014.
1. Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys have long been nicknamed “America’s Team.” This study did nothing but legitimize that nickname. The Cowboys led the league with an average of 90,069 fans per home game, and were able to charge an average of $110.20 per ticket to a game at AT&T Stadium in 2014. With this formula, the Cowboys will always rank near the top of the league.