- Nick Wagoner, ESPN Staff Writer
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Over at partner site FiveThirtyEight, founder and editor in chief Nate Silver posted an interesting look at the relative popularity of North American professional sports teams on a worldwide scale.
Using Google searches as the main tool for measuring how much people care about their teams, Silver and Ritchie King ranked the teams from the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS, Canadian Football League and Liga MX, Mexico's top professional soccer league.
In Friday's rankings, Silver put all of the top teams onto a list and compared and contrasted their Google search popularity. The two teams at the top should come as no surprise: the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. The Dallas Cowboys are the first NFL team to appear on the list, checking in at No. 3 overall.
Down the list quite a bit is the St. Louis Rams. The Rams come in at No. 51 overall, following closely behind the Atlanta Falcons, who sit at No. 50.
On Wednesday, Silver and King broke it down by sport, giving fans a look at relative popularity of the teams within their respective sport. For that exercise, teams were judged based on how many searches they received compared to the league average.
As Silver points out, there is quite a bit of parity in the distribution of interest in the NFL. That isn't surprising given the universal love and attention the league as a whole garners. In comparing the NFL to the other sports, there's not nearly the big drop-off from the top team (Dallas) to the one at the bottom (Jacksonville) as the other leagues.
In terms of just NFL teams, the Rams sit at No. 23, behind the Falcons and ahead of the Bengals.
It's no surprise to see the Rams in that range. In fact, considering the team's struggles over the past decade, that's actually a pretty representative performance. But as I can attest from doing chats and such, there's no doubt that the team's continued strong following in Los Angeles combined with the hometown fans in St. Louis keep interest in the team relatively high even though the results haven't been there to drive those numbers up.
If and when the Rams ever get back in the playoff mix, I'd expect their popularity to grow as it did when they were one of the league's hottest teams during the days of the "Greatest Show on Turf."