Back in 2017, I took a look at the most popular NFL teams.
There are numerous ways to see how popular a team is: you have ticket sales, TV ratings, merchandise, etc. However, finding out how popular a team is on the internet is an excellent example. And since I work for a search engine optimization agency, I figured I’d show you how I got there.
The method I used was average Google searches per month, and the team that came in at No. 1 was the Dallas Cowboys. If you follow the NFL, the fact that “America’s Team” came in with the top ranking shouldn’t be a surprise at all whatsoever.
The franchise plays at AT&T Stadium, the largest domed stadium in the entire world, has won five Super Bowls, is constantly a feature on the NFL’s national Sunday and Monday Night Football broadcasts, and hosts an annual Thanksgiving Day game.
In 2021, Forbes ranked the Cowboys as the most valuable NFL team at $6.5 billion. This also ranked the franchise as the most valuable sports franchise in the entire world.
Cowboys are, once again, the most popular team in football
The method I used to find the most popular team in the NFL was to look at how many times each NFL franchise was searched in Google per month over the past year in the United States.
The team which came out on top was once again Dallas. The term “Dallas Cowboys” is searched a whopping 6,120,000 times per month. That’s nearly twice as much as the team in second place – the Green Bay Packers, who are searched an average of 3,350,000 times per month in Google.
After the Cowboys and Packers, the rest of the top 10 most popular NFL teams are a little more jumbled. Five teams – the Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns, and Buffalo Bills come in third place. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins (1,830,000) tie for 8th.
The Washington Commanders come in 9th at 1,868,000. The Commanders revealed they were changing their name earlier this year from “Washington Football Team” so for this exercise I combined the search volume of both terms.
Following the Commanders there’s a 5-way tie for 10th place with the Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, Denver Broncos, and New England Patriots at 1,500,000 searches.
Most popular NFL teams since 2018
Of course, some of the earlier data could be biased in terms of the sample size. Teams like the Bucs and Chiefs have recently won Super Bowls. The Bills are the betting favorite to win this Year’s Super Bowl.
So, how much changes looking at a bigger sample size? The furthest Google allows me to go back in terms of looking at data is August 2018. Once again, it’s the Cowboys on top. And again, it’s not even close. Over the time period of August 2018 to the present, “Dallas Cowboys” is searched 5,000,000 times per month.
Who is the least popular team in the NFL?
Which current NFL franchise do people care about the least? That would be the Los Angeles Chargers. “Los Angeles Chargers” is only searched an average of 246,000 times per month over the past year.
It’s the same story if you look at the data back to 2018 as well, with 201,000 searches per month coming in for the Chargers.
Therefore, the Chargers are the least popular team in the NFL by a wide margin. It’s really not shocking. The franchise’s move from San Diego to Los Angeles was controversial back in 2017. The team played in a small 27,000-seat soccer stadium its first three seasons of existence, and their current home, SoFi Stadium, is constantly filled with opposing fans.
The other least popular NFL teams ahead of the Chargers are the Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets, both searched 450,000 times per month. Neither franchise has had much success recently, and the Jets share the New York market with the Giants.
The screenshot below is an overview of the NFL teams searched the least in Google over the past year.
Neither L.A. NFL team is popular
So yeah, sorry L.A. Despite winning last year’s Super Bowl, the Los Angeles Rams are near the bottom of this list, searched 673,000 times per month. This isn’t a gigantic surprise – as the franchise moved to L.A. from St. Louis back in 2016, and L.A. just isn’t as big of a sports town despite being the second-largest media market in the United States behind New York. In fact, the stadium was full of San Francisco 49ers fans during last season’s NFC Championship Game.
Still, even if you combine the search volume of both the Rams and Chargers, it’s still less than one million – that’s less than 23 NFL teams!
In fact, the most popular team in the L.A. market is – the Cowboys.
Just looking at Google’s search volume data in the Los Angeles metro area for the past year – the Cowboys, Packers, and Las Vegas Raiders (who played in L.A. from 1982-1994) all come in ahead of the Rams. The Chargers? Eighteen franchises are searched more than the L.A. Chargers are.
When the Cowboys played the Chargers in L.A. last year – Cowboys fans overran SoFi Stadium. The Cowboys were at the height of their dynasty in the mid-1990’s when both the Rams and Raiders left town after the 1994 season, and the team has also held its training camp in Oxnard, California – which is just over an hour away from SoFi Stadium.
Once again, there’s a reason why the Cowboys are called “America’s Team”
The data presented above isn’t perfect. However, it’s a great indicator, and conducting similar searches yourself for your specific niche could prove valuable for your SEO or Paid Media strategy. Cowboys fans are everywhere. The team opens the 2022 season on Sunday against the Colts on Sunday Night Football – one of five primetime games scheduled for this season. That mark is tied with 12 other teams, and it’s the most primetime games the NFL allows.