So you’ve decided to become an NFL fan, but you don’t know where to begin. Don’t let the number of teams, all with their own rich history, overwhelm you. You only need to know one thing about each team before making a serious (or perhaps just a casual) commitment to one of them.
Many factors go into picking an NFL team to follow. Some people have a favorite player, and some just love the uniforms. Others choose a team based on geographic proximity or the quality of play.
You may be tempted to go full bandwagon and jump on board with the New England Patriots, but slow down. Something about one of the other 31 teams might command your attention and affection. So if you haven’t yet settled on a team, let us help you make an informed decision on every option in the league.
The Dolphins are the only team in NFL history to go undefeated through the regular season and the postseason. It happened back in 1972, but don’t worry — Dolphins fans are still more than happy to brag about it.
New England Patriots
The Patriots have won five Super Bowls in team history — tied for second-most in the NFL — and they’ve won every single one of them in the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era.
New York Jets
The Jets are a front-runner this season ... to lock up the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft. Still, just in case they manage to do something good on the field, you might want to learn their chant: J-E-T-S! Jets, Jets, Jets!
Von Miller is one of the most fun players in the league to watch, and he’s got his sights set on 30 sacks this season. That’s a stretch, but still, if you hitch your star to the Broncos’ wagon, he’ll make it worth your while.
The Chiefs have an actual horse mascot named Warpaint, and safety Eric Berry is terrified of it. Berry is one good reason to root for the Chiefs. He was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2014, and he successfully fought it and returned to the field to dominate the following season.
The Los Angeles Chargers’ existence began in the AFL back in 1960. The team moved to San Diego the very next season, and now the Chargers are back in Los Angeles after a 56-year hiatus.
The Raiders have a bunch of fun players to watch, like Derek Carr, Marshawn Lynch, and Khalil Mack. Just don’t set your heart on the Oakland area, because the team’s moving to Las Vegas in a couple of years.
The first — and maybe only — thing you need to know about the Baltimore Ravens before joining the fan base is that there is an eternal debate about whether quarterback Joe Flacco is elite.
The Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since Jan. 6, 1991. George H.W. Bush was the President of the United States. Madonna’s “Justify My Love” was on top of the charts, and Home Alone, Kindergarten Cop, and Godfather III were all tearing it up at the box office.
The Browns aren’t the easiest team to root for, but being a Cleveland fan builds character. Browns fans have weathered a lifetime of disappointments, from former owner Art Modell moving the team to Baltimore in 1995, to some crushing moments that are so iconic and devastating that they’re simply known as “The Drive,” and “The Fumble.”
It’s the Three Bs on offense that Steelers fans get excited about — quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, running back Le’Veon Bell, and wide receiver Antonio Brown, who’s always good for an entertaining celebration dance.
People seem to either love or hate J.J. Watt, but if you’re one of the former, that’s a pretty good reason to like the Texans. Watt has been named the Defensive Player of the Year three times over his five seasons in the league, and he’ll be back on the field this year after missing most of last season with a back injury.
The Colts mascot is amazing. He’s a horse, and his name is Blue, and he sure does know how to get in opponents’ heads.
He’s also extremely competitive, even when it comes to musical chairs.
The most important thing you need to know to become a Jaguars fan is that you should be yelling “DUUUUUUVAAAAALLLLL” as loudly and as frequently as possible. It’s a reference to the county the team is located in. That’s a much more exciting element of Jaguars fandom these days than the actual team.
Marcus Mariota is the team’s ascendant young quarterback, and he’s an easy guy to root for because he always has time to make fans feel special. Just don’t try to give him a nickname. When he entered the league in 2015, Mariota said, “I don’t have a nickname. And I’m not looking for one, either.”
The Cowboys were once known as America’s Team back when Troy Aikman was quarterback. Now Dak Prescott is leading the charge to get the Cowboys back to America’s Team status. Prescott came in last year as a rookie and broke a bunch of records — including Aikman’s single-season rookie touchdown record.
New York Giants
If you’re not the type of person to just jump on the Patriots bandwagon, perhaps you’d prefer to go in the opposite direction and root for the team that has beaten the Evil Empire twice in the Super Bowl. That would be the New York Giants.
Are you the type of fan who would throw snowballs at Santa Claus? Or maybe tailgates with Philly cheesesteaks and crab fries sound like they’re up your alley. Check out the Philadelphia Eagles. Eagles fans are passionate, to say the least, and they love to hate the other teams in the NFC East, especially the Cowboys.
Let’s just put this out there: If you want to be a fan of the Washington NFL team, you’re going to have to work around its terribly racist mascot name. The front office is dysfunctional, and owner Dan Snyder is generally disliked. But Kirk Cousins is a pretty good quarterback, so you can enjoy that for one season before he hits free agency.
Head coach Bruce Arians is an absolute delight. No other coach can weave a glorious tapestry of profanity like he can. Arians also recently revealed that he coached through last season while successfully fighting cancer.
It’s probably a decent time to become a Rams fan, if for no other reason than the team moved on from former head coach Jeff Fisher and his 7-and-9 bullshit. The Rams’ new head coach, Sean McVay, is not just the youngest coach in NFL history. He’s also nearly five years younger than left tackle Andrew Whitworth, the oldest player on the team’s roster.
The 49ers have won five Super Bowls, though the last championship was in 1994. It’s a historically great franchise that has fallen on tough times. The team is hoping that this is the season that starts a turnaround under its fourth new head coach in as many seasons, Kyle Shanahan, and general manager John Lynch.
Jump on board with the Seahawks and you’ll join one of the liveliest fan bases in the country. They call themselves the 12th Man, and they’re loud. Like, really loud. It makes playing at CenturyLink Field a real challenge for opponents.
The Bears have more former players in the Hall of Fame than any other team, with 33, and they also have the most wins in NFL history with 744. But the Bears have just one Super Bowl win, back in 1985. After a 3-13 season last year, that’s not likely to change in the immediate future.
The Lions have the dubious distinction of being the only team to finish a season 0-16, which they did back in 2008. The good news is that Matthew Stafford somehow took a very mediocre team to the playoffs last season, so there’s hope.
Green Bay will be in the mix for Super Bowl contention year to year as long as Aaron Rodgers is the quarterback. He’s one of the NFL’s best, especially when it comes to winning games on Hail Mary passes.
Mike Zimmer is the Vikings’ head coach, and he is fired up all the time, even when his team is winning. How could you not pull for this guy?
If you want to be a Falcons fan, buckle up. Atlanta is fresh off the most humiliating Super Bowl loss in history, where it blew a 28-3 lead to lose 34-28 to the Patriots in overtime. That was such a Falcons thing to do that fans weren’t even terribly surprised.
Star quarterback Cam Newton won the NFL MVP award in 2015 after leading the Panthers to a 15-1 record and a trip to the Super Bowl. He’s another one of the most fun players to watch on the field, and his outfit choices will keep you entertained off it.
The Saints have finished each of the last three seasons 7-9, which is a test of every fan’s emotional fortitude. New Orleans fans sustain themselves these days by mocking fans of New Orleans’ biggest rivals, the Falcons, over Atlanta’s catastrophic Super Bowl LI loss.
Gerald McCoy is the Bucs’ defensive MVP NFL, and the team’s stint on Hard Knocks proves that he’s their MVP off the field, too. Whether he’s talking up Game of Thrones, testing the limits of what legal celebration dances are, boogying with fans, or just being a good dad to his sweet little kids, he’ll win you over.