The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have yet to play the first down of the 2023 season, and the team is already near the bottom of the standings.
This has nothing to do with Baker Mayfield (or Kyle Trask) replacing Tom Brady or Head Coach Todd Bowles' decision-making. Those guys still have time to tank in the standings.
This near-last-place finish has to do with fan support.
A new study of the most dedicated fans in the NFL since 2020 finds that the Buccaneers ranked No. 29 in the league, out of 32 teams. The only teams lower in the rankings were the New Orleans Saints and the Cleveland Browns. (The the Washington Commanders were discounted from the ranking due to a low keyword volume, the report states.)
The ranking was done by Toronto-based Canada Sports Betting. The company, according to a press release, “looked at the volume behind more than 500 keywords related to NFL teams over the last three years, which were also split by state, to name the most dedicated, consistent and bored fans.” The keywords include those that applied to a team’s performance, merchandise, players, games, stadiums and tickets, the release says.
(The release referred to games as “matches,” which may be an automatic disqualifier for some.)
What it found is that since the pandemic — a time when the Buccaneers made the playoffs three times, had one of the greatest players of all time under center and won a Super Bowl — interest in the team dropped 26.64% year over year.
To add insult to injury — or possibly raise questions about the methodology — during the same time period the Jacksonville Jaguars saw a 27.34% increase in fan interest placing it as No. 5 on the list.
Editor’s note: That is not a typographical error. According to the study, the Jacksonville Jaguars are fifth in fan interest in the NFL, ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs (No. 6), Dallas Cowboys (No. 11), Green Bay Packers (No. 22), Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 24) and New England Patriots (No. 28).
Topping the ranking, were Super Bowl contenders the Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49rs and Buffalo Bills.
The Miami Dolphins were No. 12 with a 5.05% increase in fan interest.