Super Bowl LI is approaching, and as it does, hoards of fans around the globe prepare—they stock up on junk food, send out invitations for parties, and of course, read up on their favorite teams and events before the big game.

Here at Taboola, we wanted to know who fans were reading about the most. We took a look and found the data-backed trends—we know the most popular team based on reader interest and article sentiment.

More people are reading more about The Patriots by a landslide.

Based on the number of unique readers that were interacting with articles about the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons, we built a heat map that’s clear—the Patriots are more interesting across the nation even before the final teams were determined.

super bowl data

Not only were the Atlanta Falcons the least popular team once they made it to finals, they were the least popular team going into the championship round—even though they are ranked with a leading offense by the NFL.

During the AFC and NFC championship games, the Patriots and the Packers took the lead in the number of unique readers, while the Steelers came in third. The Falcons came in last with interest only generating in Georgia, their home state. After the Conference Championship games, interest in the Patriots really took over.

super bowl data

Although the Falcons have the leading offense in the league, and their quarterback is a strong candidate for the regular season Most Valuable Player (MVP), most of the states in the US are more interested in the AFC champions than the NFC Champions.

See the Datawrapper below for a deeper dive into the data:



People are reading more positive articles about the Falcons than the Patriots.

Although 3x more fans were reading about the Patriots than the Falcons, football fans read a larger percentage of positive articles about the NFC champions.

Even though at first glance it looks like the Patriots are the fan favorite based on the sheer number of articles, the articles that are generating the most interest about them tell a different, negative, story.

For the Falcons, the articles that are generating more interest are positive, which possibly puts a different spin on choosing a fan favorite for this game.

Bonus: The popularity of the NFL Commissioner correlates to that of Tom Brady

After we took a look at data representing the two final teams overall, we broke it down one step further to reveal some interesting insights regarding the NFL’s commissioner, Roger Goodell.

We compared readership of articles about Tom Brady, Quarterback for the New England Patriots, to Matt Ryan, Quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons.

The graph below shows popularity by week throughout the season, with the blue line representing the Patriots and the red line representing the Falcons.

super bowl data

We saw the same trend—Tom Brady had much wider readership than Matt Ryan, but when we compared the favorite, Tom Brady, with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, we found that his popularity rose and fell with Brady’s.

Every time there was a spike in interest regarding Goodell, there was a spike in interest regarding Brady. The line graph below shows popularity week by week throughout the season, with the blue line representing Brady and the yellow line representing Goodell.


super bowl data

While we can’t definitively say who’s the favorite team this year, or who’s going to win, we can tell you that people are paying more attention to the Patriots than to the Falcons heading into the big game.

But the game isn’t over yet. The two teams still have yet to face off this coming weekend—interest in their team, following and sentiment will depend on the outcome.

super bowl data

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