The 2020 NFL season is unique in a lot of ways due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Players being put in quarantine, coaches wearing masks on the field, and sideline reporters conducting interviews from comically long distances.
Another major change is NFL games being played with very few to no fans in the stadium, as part of social distancing and social-gathering guidelines. With the traditional concept of home-field advantage taken away, it's been theorized that games are more competitive and road teams have better odds to win in some typically loud stadiums that are much quieter this season.
With a severe reduction on in-person fans, how would one determine which NFL teams have the most fans this season?
Let's take a look at social media. These are the three NFL teams with the most Twitter followers/fans in 2020.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (3.5 million)
The "Terrible Towel" is a unifying symbol for Steelers across the globe. When they're not being waved by 60,000-plus fans at Heiz Field in Pittsburgh, those yellow towels are flying across the country and throughout the world.
The Steelers are one of the NFL's most historically successful franchises, so it's no surprise they have a lot of fans. The Steelers have won six Super Bowl titles, most recently after the 2008 season, and this season they're in the driver's seat as the only remaining undefeated team in the league.
2. Dallas Cowboys (3.9 million)
"America's Team" might have the second-most fans, but they probably have the most haters. Take a look around social media during a Dallas Cowboys game -- especially during a Cowboys loss -- and you'll see that bashing the Cowboys is as popular an activity among NFL fans as anything.
Dallas Cowboys supporters are as passionate as any fan base in sports, however, and they're almost as big. Even though the Cowboys haven't won a Super Bowl since the 1995 season and have only won three playoff games since then, their fans remain loyal and optimistic that every year is "our year."
1. New England Patriots (4.5 million)
It's safe to say that were it not for the success of the Patriots during the Tom Brady era, New England would not be at the top of this list. But winning six Super Bowls between the 2001 and 2018 seasons will attract scores of NFL fans, especially in an era when bandwagon fans are running rampant around the sports landscape just waiting for the next winner on which to attach themselves.
It also doesn't hurt that New England is one of the sports media capitals of the world. ESPN is headquartered in Connecticut, and Boston has produced a lot of prominent sports media members.
The Patriots have struggled this season since Brady left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but their fan base is still loud and proud and will (probably) hang around for the long-term future.Published 20 Nov 2020, 06:33 IST