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New study confirms that the Patriots have some of the best fans in the NFL

The world champions have some of the most faithful followers in all of football.

Miami Dolphins v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

When the New England Patriots’ dynasty began with the team’s victory in Super Bowl 36, the world looked drastically different. The nation was still recovering from the September 11 attacks, Usher’s U Got it Bad was sitting atop the charts, and the technological advances of the past decade — from YouTube to virtually all of social media to Pats Pulpit — had not yet seen the light of day. While much has changed, the Patriots ruling the NFL did not.

This continued success helped the team’s following grow enormously over the years, from a mostly local but loyal group of followers to one of the biggest in all of football both across the United States and abroad. Size is not the only defining character of a Patriots fan base that finds itself among the best in the league — at least that’s what Emory University’s Michael Lewis claims in a new study released this week.

The ‘Fandom Report’ gets published annually, and uses data on “attendance, revenues, social media following and road attendance to develop statistical models of fan interest.” Those models are subsequently used to determine which fan bases are more willing to follow their respective teams no matter the size of their markets or any potential short-term swings in winning or losing.

According to Lewis, three measures of fan engagement were used to determine which fan bases are the best in the NFL right now:

Fan Equity focuses on home box office revenues (support via opening the wallet).

Social Media Equity focuses on fan willingness to engage as part of a team’s community (support exhibited by joining social media communities).

Road Equity focuses on how teams draw on the road after adjusting for team performance.

When it comes to the Patriots, we can see that they rank third in Fan Equity, first in Social Media Equity, and fourth in Road Equity. After adding it all up, the club’s fan base emerges as the second best in the league behind only the Dallas Cowboys’ and tops in the AFC — the number two team in the conference are the Pittsburgh Steelers, who come in at number five overall behind the Philadelphia Eagles (#3) and the New York Giants (#4).

As is the case on the field, the Patriots are clearly ahead of their divisional rivals as well: the Miami Dolphins’ fans are ranked as the 14th best in the league, while the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets come in at slots number 19 and 20. Even further down the list, we find the three teams New England knocked out of the playoffs in 2018: the Los Angeles Chargers (#26), Kansas City Chiefs (#31), and Los Angeles Rams (#32) are all bottom-tier teams.

All in all, Lewis’ list of the best fan bases in the NFL looks as follows:

2019 Fandom Report

Overall Rank Team Fan Equity Social Equity Road Equity
Overall Rank Team Fan Equity Social Equity Road Equity
1 Dallas Cowboys 1 3 2
2 New England Patriots 3 1 4
3 Philadelphia Eagles 12 4 1
4 New York Giants 7 10 3
5 Pittsburgh Steelers 16 2 6
6 Green Bay Packers 8 7 17
7 Denver Broncos 5 6 25
8 Chicago Bears 4 14 12
9 San Francisco 49ers 2 11 28
10 New Orleans Saints 9 22 7
11 Washington Redskins 10 28 8
12 Indianapolis Colts 11 19 10
13 Atlanta Falcons 23 9 14
14 Miami Dolphins 15 20 9
15 Seattle Seahawks 18 8 24
16 Carolina Panthers 22 5 27
17 Oakland Raiders 31 13 5
18 Baltimore Ravens 6 18 31
19 Buffalo Bills 17 21 13
20 New York Jets 13 17 19
21 Houston Texans 14 12 32
22 Detroit Lions 20 15 18
23 Tampa Bay Buccaneeers 25 24 11
24 Minnesota Vikings 21 27 15
25 Arizona Cardinals 19 25 23
26 Los Angeles Chargers 26 23 16
27 Cleveland Browns 24 16 30
28 Cincinnati Bengals 27 26 20
29 Jacksonville Jaguars 30 30 21
30 Tennessee Titans 28 31 26
31 Kansas City Chiefs 29 29 29
32 Los Angeles Rams 32 32 22
Prof. Michael Lewis, Emory University Marketing Analytics Center