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Which team has the most loyal fans? Science says it’s the Dallas Cowboys

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No two signs are facing the same direction. (Getty Images)

There are few things more annoying in the entire professional football universe than bandwagon fans, those star-sniffing louts who switch team jerseys as often as they do their laundry. While everybody's loving them some RG3 these days, the original, default bandwagon team has always been the Dallas Cowboys. Hell, even LeBron James is a Cowboy carpetbagger.

Yeah, bandwagon fans are the worst, and Cowboy bandwagoners are the worst of the worst. But now, science has given us a disturbing truth: those Cowboys fans are the most loyal in the NFL.

This is pretty much the worst news science has brought us since the revelation that Pluto's not really a planet, but let's press on anyway. Two Emory University professors, Mike Lewis and Manish Tripathi, have ranked the NFL's 32 teams according to a range of metrics, and the fans of the Boys in Blue come out on top.

How? HOW? According to the professors, it's not just a matter of attendance or revenue, as such factors can be skewed by both recent success and location in metropolitan areas. So here's the methodology:

"The key idea is that we look at team box office revenues relative to team on-field success, market population, stadium capacity, median income and other factors," they write. "The first step in our procedure involves the creation of a statistical model that predicts box office revenue as a function of the aforementioned variables.  We then compare actual revenues to the revenues predicted by the model.  Teams with relatively stronger fan support will have revenues that exceed the predicted values, and teams that under perform have relatively less supportive fan bases."

In other words, they're grading YOU, the fan, and the Cowboys have fans that step up. Again, folks, don't get mad; it's science. (The professors admit to being fans of the Steelers and the Redskins, furthering the study's validity.)

"What are keys to the Cowboys’ ability to create a passionate and supportive fan base?" the professors wrote. "We think it’s a long legacy of success, a football-mad Texas culture and a state-of-the-art stadium.  Over the last three seasons (the time period used to calculate fan equity) the Cowboys have played sub-.500 football but generated above-capacity attendance (at least according to ESPN)."

Blame Texas. Fair enough. Here are the rest of the largely unsurprising top five:

1. Dallas Cowboys
2. New England Patriots
3. New York Jets
4. New Orleans Saints
5. New York Giants

So, yeah, lot of loyal NFL fans in the Northeast. And New Orleans hasn't got much else going for it but the gumbo and the Who Dats, so there you go. How about the bottom five?

28. Detroit Lions
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
30. Arizona Cardinals
31. Atlanta Falcons
32. Oakland Raiders

Wow. Dead last for Oakland. That's got to be dispiriting for those loons who dress up in bondage gear, but maybe that's where all their disposable income is going. Falcons fans are as flighty as spooked pigeons; they'll watch replays of 2005 University of Georgia games before live action. Most people in Arizona are unaware that they even have a team. Tampa Bay is Florida/Florida State/Miami territory. And Detroit ... considering the fact that there may indeed be actual lions wandering the streets of that city, folks there have bigger things to worry about than the local football concern.

Anyway, if you'd like to see where your team stacks up, check the rankings. And if they're lower than you'd like, you only have yourself to blame.

Of note: Tripathi and Lewis did a similar ranking of college football fanbases, too. Now there's an argument-starter that could get you bludgeoned.

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