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Saturday, May 26, 2012
Where each NFL team ranks in popularity

By Mike Sando

We know where NFC West teams stand in popularity among Americans.

"Where are the final tallies for most popular teams (across the league)?" @ChrisLoces wants to know.

Chris was surprised the Oakland Raiders didn't crack the top five most popular teams in the latest survey from ESPN Sports Polls.

The Raiders ranked 12th in polling for 2012's first quarter.

Pollsters conduct 1,500 monthly telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of Americans age 12 and older. They have reached 390,000 Americans since 1994 via land lines and cell phones, in English and Spanish.

The San Francisco 49ers were the highest-ranked NFC West team at No. 8.

I was a little surprised to see the Detroit Lions ranked among the top 15, above the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets. The Baltimore Ravens (23rd) ranked lower than I would have expected relative to their on-field performance.

The Indianapolis Colts (11th) and Raiders were the highest-ranked teams to have relocated to another city in the past three decades.

Seven of the 10 least popular teams were relatively new to their cities, either through relocation or expansion. Those teams were Baltimore, Houston, Tennessee, Carolina, Arizona, St. Louis and Jacksonville. Tampa Bay, Atlanta and Cincinnati ranked among the bottom 10 despite longer tenures in their current cities.

Unhealthy franchises tend to move. Once they do move, they start fresh with a new fan base. It then takes time to build up equity with multiple generations of fans.

In the Cardinals' case, the fan base includes quite a few transplants with loyalties in other markets.

The chart shows which percentage of respondents said they favored particular teams. There were no ties (I rounded to the tenth for readability). Note that 10.3 percent of respondents did not identify a favorite team.