The Denver Broncos may have fallen (way) short against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII this past February, but they can now claim a new title: America's favorite football team.
Denver replaced the Dallas Cowboys at No. 1, according to results from The Harris Poll in a survey of 2,543 adults (1,275 of whom follow pro football) taken Sept.10-17. The Cowboys, who had held the top spot since 2007, fell to No. 4 on the annual list of popular teams, behind the New York Giants and the Green Bay Packers.
The Broncos, led by 13-time Pro Bowl quarterback Peyton Manning, have sold out every home game since the 1970 season. It's the second-longest active streak in the NFL behind only the Washington Redskins.
Some of the biggest upward movers on the list were the Detroit Lions, who climbed up nine spots to No. 13, and the Buffalo Bills, who moved up eight spots to No. 20.
Not surprisingly, the Cleveland Browns also climbed five spots in this year's ranking. This past spring, the team drafted former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel, who has been credited with a surge in season ticket sales.
Two teams surrounded by high-profile problems off the field, the Baltimore Ravens and the Indianapolis Colts, both saw the biggest downward moves in popularity.
The Ravens, embroiled in the Ray Rice domestic violence controversy for much of the year, fell seven spots to No. 23. The Colts (who peaked at No. 2 back in the 2010 list) have proved unable to maintain the same level of widespread popularity they enjoyed during their Peyton Manning era (1998-2011).
Falling seven spots to No. 26, the Colts have been forced to deal with the public relations aftermath created by owner Jim Irsay, who pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle under the influence and received a six-game suspension by the league.
The Cowboys have had to deal with their own off-the-field, legal distractions. This week, a Dallas judge dismissed a sexual assault lawsuit that had been filed against Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.