The New England Patriots are no longer participating in the NFL’s playoff race — for the first time since the 2009 season they were already eliminated on wild card weekend — but that does not mean their fans will not have any clear rooting interests heading into today’s conference title games. And as SB Nation’s latest FanPulse survey shows, there is no argument about which teams the Patriots’ followers are rooting for today.
In the AFC, New England’s faithful is pulling for the sixth-seeded Tennessee Titans over the second-seeded Kansas City Chiefs despite the club eliminating the Patriots from the postseason two weeks ago. On the NFC side of things, meanwhile, those participating in the survey picked the San Francisco 49ers over the visiting Green Bay Packers:
Neither result should be all that big of a surprise. In the AFC, for example, the Titans have two things going for them from the Patriots’ perspective:
1.) From head coach Mike Vrabel to players such as cornerback Logan Ryan and running back Dion Lewis, the team has numerous ties to New England. Seeing fans root for the ex-Patriots still in the race had to be expected (something that apparently also holds true in the NFC).
2.) They are not the Chiefs. Led by head coach Andy Reid, Kansas City has grown into one of the Patriots’ premier rivals in the conference over the last few years — the two teams met in the postseason twice over the last four seasons. Rooting for the underdog Titans, who already beat Kansas City earlier this year, is therefore popular.
Add both up, and you get 86% of participants rooting for Tennessee over Kansas City. The result is similarly lopsided in the NFC, where quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and his counterpart — the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers — likely have impacted the FanPulse results: 89% of those voting in the poll prefer to see the former Patriots backup play in the Super Bowl as opposed to the veteran.