How Effectively Do NFL Teams Fill the Stadium?

When a long-suffering club heats up for a playoff run, die-hard fans might become angry of those with renewed zeal. Among NFL fans, the accusation that you are a “bandwagon fan” is a severe one. According to some, to be a loyal supporter, one must root for the franchise through the good, the bad, and the ugly. Does a good record, though, genuinely encourage attendance at the stadium on Sunday? When a team achieves success, do previously vacant seats actually begin to fill up?



We set out to determine this by comparing the attendance of playoff teams against that of non-playoff clubs. We’ve analyzed a decade’s worth of data to determine which teams generate robust audiences even when they’re losing, and which teams’ support plummets as their losses mount. Continue reading to see which teams have the most steady fan base and which teams’ attendance decreases when they miss the playoffs.


Ten Years of Attendance

According to our data, playoff clubs had an advantage in terms of raw attendance numbers and percentage of total seats occupied. However, this pattern is not without exception: In 2017, teams who qualified for the postseason filled a smaller percentage of available seats than those that did not. In contrast, only playoff-bound clubs have averaged 100 percent capacity or above three times in the recent decade. In 2009, the disparity between playoff teams and the rest of the league was very pronounced: The playoff clubs filled an average of 100.1% of their official seating capacity, while the remaining teams averaged only 92.6%.



In the past decade, both playoff clubs and non-playoff teams have seen fluctuating average total attendance records. 2010 was a difficult year for all clubs, with playoff teams averaging 68,610 spectators per game and non-playoff teams averaging just 65,959. The year 2016 featured good attendance levels for both types of teams. This achievement could not be continued, however, as league-wide attendance numbers declined significantly in 2017. Fans posted unpleasant photographs of empty seats at a Thursday night game on social media, drawing attention to the decline.


Filling Seats via Franchising

Even though they are renowned as “America’s Team,” the Dallas Cowboys have tremendous local support. The Cowboys have averaged 108.1% of their official seating capacity over the past decade, a statistic that enhances their claim to the strongest fanbase in the NFL. From 2008 to 2017, nine other franchises averaged at least 100 percent of its declared seating capacity, compared to Dallas’s 100 percent. Additionally, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, and Green Bay stood out.



After decades without a team, Los Angeles football supporters may still be warming up to attending Sunday games. The enormous metropolitan market may have made NFL executives salivate, but the Rams have had trouble avoiding empty stands recently. The low attendance in Oakland has actually prompted a transfer to Las Vegas in the coming years, but this shift is on hold until a new stadium is constructed. Here’s hope supporters in Sin City are more enthusiastic about the Raiders.


Fairweather Followers?

Even when the Cowboys are struggling, AT&T Stadium is packed, but during winning seasons, the attendance are absolutely stratospheric. The Cowboys’ postseason attendance has increased by 7.4%, averaging 113.5% of their official capacity. The Detroit Lions experienced the second-largest increase in attendance during the playoffs, although their percentage was nothing near that of Dallas. Even during seasons in which they qualified for the postseason, they averaged a capacity of 96.9%. The same was true for the Jaguars, whose attendance increased substantially while the team was successful but averaged just 95.6% throughout their playoff years.



Certain teams, such as the Redskins, Saints, and Packers, tended to attract the same amount of supporters regardless of their records. Then there were nine clubs with attendance figures that defied explanation, occupying a smaller proportion of seats during their most successful seasons. With the exception of the Rams, these playoff-year decreases tended to be minor, which is a cause for celebration. After the euphoria of their first season in Los Angeles, the young fan base appears to have diminished in 2017, despite the team’s outstanding performance.


Maintaining Control for the Home Team

Our findings indicate that certain teams have an increase in ticket sales when they are victorious, while others enjoy a full house regardless of their performance. On any given Sunday, the great majority of seats are occupied, even for organizations with rather volatile fan bases. Certainly, everyone enjoys seeing the home team win, but perhaps the enjoyment of an NFL game is independent of the outcome. There is nothing quite like sitting in the stands, regardless of how implausible a triumph may appear. If you have the opportunity to attend a game soon, you should do so. Even if your team performs horrible this season, you will not be labeled a bandwagon supporter whenever they begin to perform well again.


Even if you are unable to attend the game, we have you covered in terms of excitement. provides the finest bonuses and reviews for online betting, allowing you to engage in a game from the comfort of your own home.



We gathered data from, which compiles publicly accessible attendance numbers for each NFL franchise’s game. Our research utilized each team’s regular season attendance statistics from 2008 to 2017. In circumstances where a team has existed for fewer than ten seasons, we compiled statistics for all accessible seasons.


No statistical testing was conducted, hence the aforementioned assertions are based only on means. Therefore, this information is strictly experimental, and future study should take a more rigorous approach to this issue.


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