In my estimation, the majority of football fans will be rooting for the Los Angeles Rams over the New England Patriots during Sunday's Super Bowl. especially locally, where a dedicated Rams fanbase has existed stemming from the team's first stint in Los Angeles.
But why would the majority of fans from the other 30 teams in the NFL favor the Rams? And why are some siding with the Patriots on Super Bowl Sunday?
I conducted four polls from Jan. 24 through Jan. 27 on Facebook and Twitter — two on my personal accounts and two on the BVarsityLive accounts — to crowdsource some reasons why fans are drawing their battle lines.
After 539 total votes — admittedly a small sample size compared to the almost 900,000 people living in Kern County plus votes from people I know that don't live locally or in state — 71 percent sided with the Rams and 29 percent with the Patriots.
After combing through all the comments and replies on why, it essentially boiled down to three reasons:
1. Tom Brady
Throughout the social media postings, the prolific quarterback for the Patriots was either beloved and heralded as one of the best to ever play the game, or villainized to the point of having harm wished upon him. There's no in-between when it comes to arguably the greatest QB of all-time.
Brady has carved out a very successful career after being selected in the sixth round of the 2000 draft, racking up over 200 wins, setting numerous records, and winning three MVP awards en route to his ninth — and third straight — Super Bowl appearance on Sunday.
But with success comes failures for others and there are plenty of team fanbases that have fallen at the hands of Brady and head coach Bill Belichick.
Outside of his success, Brady has been on the end of some controversial moments in NFL history that still get talked about to this day. Raiders fans still remember the "Tuck Rule" during their AFC Divisional Round defeat in 2002. Other fans ridicule Brady about his role in controversies such as Spygate and Deflategate.
I'll touch on those other two points later, but Brady is the face of the Patriots and has been for nearly two decades. It makes sense that he ends up being the focal point for anything positive or negative about the organization during that time.
2. Over-saturation of the Patriots
Obviously this will focus more on those who voted for the Rams, but as touched upon earlier, this is the ninth Super Bowl in 18 years for New England.
The current run of success for the Patriots started in 2002 when they defeated the then St. Louis Rams, ironically enough, in Super Bowl XXXVI.
Since then the team has reached eight more Super Bowls (winning four of them), 13 AFC Championship games and won 16 AFC East titles.
With so many wins, playoff appearances and Super Bowl appearances, confidence grows within Patriots fans and disdain can grow within others. It showed in the recent social media commentary.
3. Team loyalty
When it comes to sports, the past is never forgotten, and fanbases will like and dislike teams for various reasons. With that said, past results and divisional and conference alliances can play a factor in how fans feel entering Super Bowl Sunday.
The Patriots have left a long trail of disdain in their path of success and that has caused them to not be favorites. Fans of teams ranging from the Falcons (who lost Super Bowl LI to the Patriots), to the Bills and Dolphins (AFC East foes), to the Panthers (who lost Super Bowl XXXVIII to the Patriots) and as previously mentioned the Raiders, could harbor hard feelings against the dynasty that's been built in New England.
Other local teams are split, however. Many 49ers fans weighed in and were on both sides of the battle. The ones in favor of the Rams wanted to support their NFC West brethren. On the other hand, the NFC West rivalry with the Rams, along with the 2017 trade that sent quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers, led others to support the Patriots.
Nationally, other fanbases and cities have supported the Patriots as well. Many people in St. Louis have gone against the Rams ever since they moved back to Los Angeles in 2016. Saints fans are also siding with the Patriots due to the missed pass interference penalty in the NFC Championship game that helped the Rams win.