1) hometown crowd reach (defined by Nielsen Scarborough as a percentage of the metropolitan area population that watched, attended, and/or listened to a game in the last year)
2) three years worth of television ratings (per Nielsen)
3) three years of stadium attendance based on capacity reached
4) three years worth of merchandise sales (per NFLShop.com)
5) social media reach (a combination of Facebook likes and Twitter TWTR -0.18% followers based on the team’s metro area population). On that, Forbes notes:
Six other teams among the list of the best fans also demonstrated their fans reach beyond their hometown crowd – the Dallas Cowboys (tied No. 7), Denver Broncos (ranked No. 2), Indianapolis Colts (No. 6), New England Patriots (No. 4), New Orleans Saints (No. 3), and Pittsburgh Steelers (tied at No. 7). All have social media followings that exceed their possible local fan base populations.
Overall in the survey, the Saints have the:
• 2nd best hometown rank
• No. 1 TV audience & stadium attendance
• 2nd social media rank
• 10th overall merchandise rank
So it appears the Saints are third because Saints fans don't buy enough jerseys.
Under the jump: Forbes' complete Top 10 fans list and a link to the rest.
The top 10 list
1) Green Bay Packers
2) Denver Broncos
3) New Orleans Saints
4) New England Patriots
5) Baltimore Ravens
6) Indianapolis Colts
7-T) Dallas Cowboys
7-T) Pittsburgh Steelers
9) Seattle Seahawks
10) Chicago Bears
To see where every NFL team ranks on this list, click here.