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It isn’t Bengals fans’ fault we rank incredibly low in NFL fan rankings

Bengals fans rank 26th out of 32 in the most recent Fanalytics rankings, but it isn’t our fault. Here’s why.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Bengals fans rank 26th out of 32 in NFL, according to a new fan and brand report from Fanalytics. You may be wondering how this ranking was decided upon, and well it actually has a lot of data to back it up.

Mike Lewis writes these reports annually, and his process is pretty well thought out. First he asks questions like how you would even determine the best fan base. Whether it be money spent, attendance or even traveling to games; Lewis has thought of it all.

I use three measures of fan engagement: Fan Equity, Social Equity and Road Equity. Fan Equity focuses on home box office revenues (support via opening the wallet). Social Media Equity focuses on fan willingness to engage as part of a team’s online community (support exhibited by joining social media communities). Road Equity focuses on how teams draw on the road after adjusting for team performance. These metrics provide a balance – a measure of willingness to spend, a measure unconstrained by stadium size and a measure of national appeal.

He then averages those factors to come up with where each team ranks. Overall the Bengals rank 26th. Their fan equity is 27th overall, but we redeem ourselves as a fan base with social equity (21st) and road equity (20th).

The important thing about these numbers is he adjusts them based on change in production from a team. For example if a team is still showing up and engaging as much as when they are losing it really helps out. That’s how the Bears end up toward the top of the rankings and why the Giants remain there, too, despite last year’s miserable season for New York.

My reason for why Bengals fans shouldn’t feel blame for this ranking is simple. What have the Bengals done to deserve our unquestioned fandom? Most teams that have some very bad seasons in a row institute a huge change. Whether that is a change at quarterback or head coach or something else entirely. The Bengals really haven’t done that.

When Marvin Lewis took over as head coach Cristina Aguilera was hitting the charts with her song Beautiful. In that time Lewis has never won a single playoff game. He did bring the Bengals back into the world of revelance though. Considering when he took over, the Bengals were as bad as the Browns are, he did a great job of turning fans back onto the team. However, how many times do you expect fans to buy tickets to the same old show?

The reason Bengals fans are so disenchanted is because there really is no reason to blindly trust this team. (Though, Rebecca Toback is doing just that.) They have let many good players go in free agency in recent years only to struggle to replace them with tons of draft capital and bargain bin free agents. And we haven’t had postseason success since the 80s. A few Cincy Jungle writers weren’t even alive for the last Bengals playoff win.

If Lewis loses another Wild Card game he will be 0-8 in the postseason. He will have ended eight seasons with a first round exit. Paul Brown and Sam Wyche are tied for second in most seasons as the head coach. They each coached eight seasons. It just seems outrageous that any owner could find that acceptable.

It was fine early on in the Andy Dalton and A.J. Green era to have that first round exit. No one thought the Bengals would even be contending for a playoff spot in 2011, but after three straight losses it became unbearable. And now we’re at five straight. Then we got to watch the Bengals literally let players walk away in free agency as we suffered through two losing seasons only to see Mike Brown decide he wants us to endure two more seasons of this circus under Lewis.

I don’t think Bengals fans as a whole are bad fans who are fair weathered. That isn’t what I’m saying. I think the fans have had a reasonable reaction that we are tired of there being no big changes despite the lack of success.

“It could be worse,” you may say.

It very well could be, but being stuck in the average to below average spot of the league for close to two decades is much worse than enduring three or four bad years and moving on to have success. Have you seen how many teams have quick turnarounds after coaching changes? Yet here we are watching the Bengals’ owner sell us tickets to bang our heads against the wall.

What do you think of the Bengals’ ranking as having the 26th best fans in the NFL with only the Chargers, Browns, Jaguars, Chiefs, Rams and Titans falling behind Cincinnati?