When comparing teams on paper, prognosticators tend to omit the value of 'home field advantage' on game day.
Though a number of teams have weak fanbases and a tough time generating a hostile atmosphere, it's certainly true that a rabid fan section can change the outcome of a game.
Fans have a way of getting into players' heads with their over-the-top displays—here are the 13 most intimidating fanbases on game day in the NFL.
When a fan base has embraced criminals like Pacman Jones on its team, you know that it is intimidating.
"Who Dey" nation has toughened up in recent years, acclimating to a smashmouth AFC North that is predicated on hitting ballcarriers and hitting them hard.
Go to a Bengals game and be prepared to feel uncomfortable for the whole contest, thanks to a very rowdy group of fans.
While Jet fans aren't quite as rowdy as their crosstown counterparts, this fanbase still makes its voice heard whenever possible.
Fueled by their overconfident coach, Jet fans have a propensity to think very highly of their team and let everyone around them know it, too.
The ever-recognizable 'Fireman Ed' leads chants at Jet games, striking fear into opponents who know that the entire stadium is rooting against them.
There is an inherent drinking culture here, so realize that whenever one mixes alcohol with cold weather and smashmouth football, a fanbase tends to get very uncontrollable.
The Bears are making an attempt to return to the top of the NFL and the team is banking on its fans to make noise during home games and rattle young quarterbacks like Matthew Stafford and Christian Ponder.
Chicago is a city well-known for fan loyalty and Bears fans are no exception here—this team and this fan base will have their day.
It seems as though Saints fans throw a huge party on every game day and don't invite anyone or anything affiliated with the opposing team.
The tailgating and tradition around games is great in New Orleans, but it's the collective roar of these fans (in a dome, mind you, where sound can't escape) that puts Saints fans in the top ten.
"Who Dat" nation ranks slightly higher than their "Who Dey" counterparts with its celebratory approach to gameday.
If not for a loud, enthusiastic crowd every Sunday, Arrowhead Stadium wouldn't be one of the toughest places to play in the league.
With almost 80,000 seats to fill, Chiefs fans are boisterous on game day and don't make it a very friendly atmosphere for fans of the opposing team.
These fans have been around since the league's earliest days and the only thing that matches their passion for the game is their passion for the Chiefs.
This is where the list starts to take a turn for the ugly and showcase fan bases that truly make game day a terrible experience for opposing players.
Baltimore Ravens fans are very well-known for their passion. While their following isn't the largest, these fans come out for every game (having sold out every home game in the team's history) and make noise.
Owner Steve Bisciotti said that the team is 'blessed' to have such a fan base and that the rest of the league is aware of the team's fans.
If I was making this ranking a few years ago, the Cleveland Browns would be much higher, but fan menace has waned of late.
The team's fans are still seventh on this list of intimidation, though, for the 'Dawg Pound' is one section that inspires fear in opponents.
Does anyone remember when Chad Ochocinco jumped into the crowd in Cleveland? So do we.
Back before the 2008 Super Bowl between the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers, Phoenix Times columnist Martin Cizmar warned Cardinal fans that Steeler fans are the nastiest bunch of supporters around.
Simply try to argue with a Steeler fan about how good your team is and they'll counter with the fact that they have more Super Bowl trophies than you do.
Rallying behind the team's lock-down defense, Steeler fans take a rude but effective approach to game day.
With this season's Super Bowl run, Giant fans showed that they really come out for their team and make their voices heard when all is on the line.
The Giants are developing a culture of killing quarterbacks with the team's elite defensive line, which the fans love to scream about after a sack.
Also, ask a Giant fan and he or she will probably proudly proclaim that Eli Manning is the best quarterback in the league based on the Super Bowl.
The Packers and their fans have such a long history that one slide isn't enough to cover it all.
If one was to rank the top game day traditions in the NFL, I'd be hard pressed to find a list that doesn't have the Lambeau Leap in the top three.
Also, factor in that the fans are the owners of the team and their passion is unmistakable on game day. At a legendary place like Lambeau Field, the Packers fan base is one of the best.
The city of Philadelphia is known for a very disturbing fan culture and nowhere is this more apparent than on Sundays at Lincoln Financial Field, the home of the Eagles.
At the NFL Draft, this crowd is even worse. Eagle fans typically chant the name of the player they want for the full ten minutes that their team is on the clock and then boo for the next hour if they don't get their guy.
The fans have a tendency to boo everything and, like them or not, make game day a very rough experience for opposing players. Especially the Cowboys.
The Raider fan culture is dirty, disgusting, dangerous, scary and, well, effective.
When a game at 'The Black Hole' pops up on the schedule, a number of NFL players certainly wish they could play anywhere else.
I've seen the Seahawks fans ranked low on too many lists. The truth is, the 12th Man is the most intimidating group of fans, bar none.
The fans at CenturyLink Field (formerly Qwest Field) take pride in forcing opponents into false starts, ranking with the most false starts at a stadium since 2005 (according to the Seahawks official website).
When Madden 12 was doing its cover vote for a player to feature on the cover, the Seahawks were the only team who didn't get a player nominated. They just had their fan base, the 12th man, as their nominee.
For proof as to why this fan base is the best, just watch the 2010 playoff matchup between the Seahawks and New Orleans Saints.
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