The NFL's Best Tailgates

Matt Stein@MatthewJSteinCorrespondent IISeptember 1, 2011

The NFL's Best Tailgates

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    There is no experience on this Earth quite like tailgating at an NFL game. The camaraderie, food and drink bring together the greatest fans to enjoy the best day of the week, Sunday.

    Some NFL stadiums promote tailgating and their respective fan bases have taken full advantage of the experience. Others, whether due to size or location, have alienated their fans and forced them to tailgate elsewhere.

    If your life goal is to tailgate at every NFL stadium, this will become your guide on where to start and finish. If you are just looking for the best time possible, skip the first 31 teams and go right to the best. For everyone in between, here are the rankings for the best tailgating at every NFL stadium.

32. Seattle Seahawks

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    Stadium Name: CenturyLink Field

    Best Tailgating Offerings: Seafood galore, famous 12th Man

    With one of the most passionate fan bases in football, it is a shame that the Seattle Seahawks stadium has no parking for tailgating. For an awesome experience, Seahawks' fans go to Tailgaters Heaven, which located a few blocks from the stadium.

    Since the stadium doesn't even have space for tailgating, they finish last on this list by default.  

31. Detroit Lions

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    Stadium Name: Ford Field

    Best Tailgating Offerings: Breakfast Grenade, Ghettoblaster Beer Batter

    The problem with tailgating at Ford Field doesn't reside in the food offerings. No, it is due to the lack of space to allow Lions' fans the best tailgating experience possible.

    You can often find way more tailgaters in streets, abandoned buildings and empty parking lots than you can at Ford Field.

    In fact, I heard that if you are a true Lions fan, your first purchase isn't a Calvin Johnson jersey, but rather an oil drum to fit in with the street life while you tailgate.

30. St. Louis Rams

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    Stadium Name: Edward Jones Dome

    Best Tailgating Offerings: Toasted Ravioli, broiled crawfish, Busch beer

    There just isn't enough room for St. Louis Rams' tailgaters at Edward Jones Dome, and therein lies this low ranking.

    It's too bad that one of the biggest beer cities in the United States can't even put together a decent tailgating experience.

29. Arizona Cardinals

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    Stadium Name: University of Phoenix Stadium

    Best Tailgating Offerings: State of the art Stadium, live music, 20-acre grassed area

    The live music is a nice touch by the Arizona Cardinals and it really gives the fans a unique experience. The stadium has been ranked as one of the top stadiums in the NFL and it's field can be moved outdoors.

    The only issue is that Cardinals' fans are still trying to figure out their own tailgating experience. They don't really have any uniqueness that separates them from other teams.

    When they finally find their own footing, Arizona tailgating will be a truly awesome experience.

28. Cincinnati Bengals

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    Stadium Name: Paul Brown Stadium

    Best Tailgating Offerings: Cornhole, Cincinnati chili

    A few years ago, the Cincinnati Bengals' tailgating experience would have probably ranked a little higher on this list. Unfortunately, the recent downward spiral the team has taken is beginning to suck the life out of the Bengals' most faithful fans.

    Two bright spots for Cincinnati is cornhole and their famous chili. Cornhole was supposedly started near Cincinnati and can be seen all over the parking lot to Paul Brown Stadium.

    Unless A.J. Green and Andy Dalton can breathe life back into this franchise, Cincinnati's tailgating will continue to fall down the rankings.

27. Minnesota Vikings

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    Stadium Name: Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome

    Best Tailgating Offerings: Beer brats, cheerleaders, SKOL Drumline

    Listen, the Minnesota Vikings have some of the most faithful fans and anyone that is willing to go out in the freezing temperature to tailgate gets an A+ in my book. Also, I am very fond of both beer brats and cheerleaders, so it was difficult to rank them this low.

    However, there just isn't enough space at HHH Metrodome to accommodate all the fans that want to tailgate. I mean, just look at that picture above. People barely have room to move around.

26. New Orleans Saints

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    Stadium Name: Louisiana Superdome

    Best Tailgating Offerings: Cajun food

    It is unfortunate that you have to pay to tailgate at the Superdome. The New Orleans Saints have some of the greatest fans who have been through so much. They love their team and the city of New Orleans is such a great atmosphere.

    However, with not much parking around the stadium, the Saints rank very low on this list. Not even the greatest Cajun food could make them higher.

25. Carolina Panthers

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    Stadium Name: Bank of America Stadium

    Best Tailgating Offerings: Barbecue, fried chicken

    The biggest issue the Carolina Panthers have with their tailgating is that they represent two states. Due to that, most Panthers' fans have to travel a long distance to tailgate and many choose to rather watch the game at home.

    For those fans that do head to the game are rewarded with two of the South's best offerings: delicious barbecue and fried chicken.

24. Atlanta Falcons

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    Stadium Name: Georgia Dome

    Best Tailgating Offerings: Soul food

    The people of Atlanta are either very passionate about the Atlanta Falcons or could care less about them. It isn't like other football cities where no matter who you talk to, they love their NFL team.

    The reason they rank so high on this list, even without a gigantic tailgating following is because of the food. You haven't had soul food until you've had the soul food served at a Falcons tailgate. 

    I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.

23. San Diego Chargers

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    Stadium Name: Qualcomm Stadium

    Best Tailgating Offerings: Surf-and-turf, California girls

    Since Qualcomm Stadium is technically owned by the City of San Diego, this causes some major problems for tailgaters at the stadium. They are only allowed to tailgate in their own individual parking space either in front or behind their vehicle.

    Not even the insane amount of California girls can help the Chargers' ranking on this one.

22. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Stadium Name: EverBank Field

    Best Tailgating Offerings: Barbecue shrimp, fried fish, warm weather

    What more could you ask for than perfect weather while tailgating? Not much, but the reason the Jacksonville Jaguars rank so low in this list is because this town isn't a professional football town, it is a college football town.

    With Jacksonville within easy traveling to Tallahassee and Gainesville, home of the Florida State Seminoles and the Florida Gators, most football fans prefer those teams to the Jaguars.

    People still tailgate, but they aren't as enthusiastic due to a probable hangover. 

21. San Francisco 49ers

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    Stadium Name: Candlestick Park

    Best Tailgating Offerings: Carne Asada tacos, Hawaiian barbecue, possible swamp wrestling

    I've heard rumors that when it rains in San Francisco, which is fairly often, the parking lost at Candlestick Park becomes one big swamp. In my opinion, that could be awesome and a major pain at the same time.

    Other than a possibly being swamped in, the San Francisco 49ers tailgaters know how to have a good time. With plenty of liquor and authentic food, these people are always ready for game day.

    I'll never understand how people on the West Coast can start tailgating at 8 AM, but more power to them. 

20. Dallas Cowboys

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    Stadium Name: Cowboys Stadium

    Best Tailgating Offerings: Tex-Mex, Blue Margarita, Maker's Mark Hot Toddy

    They say the Maker's Mark Hot Toddy is good for cold weather, but I disagree. In fact, it is nearly 100 degrees and I'm drinking one right now and yes, it is delicious. It is also only 8 AM, but we will deal with that problem at a later time.

    "America's Team" ranked out surprisingly low for having such passionate fans. Their biggest issue is that the tailgaters, who have one common goal, have been broken up into two different groups. You have the "team-controlled" tailgating lots and the "private" tailgating lots.

    Seriously, can't we all just get along for the good of tailgating? 

19. Tennessee Titans

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    Stadium Name: LP Field

    Best Tailgating Offerings:  Beer and lots of it

    The people of Tennessee love two things in life: country music and beer. Thankfully, there isn't much country music at LP Field on Sundays, but there is a whole bunch of beer.

    Tennesseans are extremely faithful to their teams. Since the Titans are a newer franchise to Tennessee it is extremely impressive how sincere of  a following they already have. It will only grow in the years to come.

    By the way, does anyone else notice that there is absolutely no one tailgating in the picture above. That's kind of creepy.

18. New York Jets

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    Stadium Name: New Meadowlands

    Best Tailgating Offerings: Lobster, New York Pizza, New Yorkers

    The fact that people actually eat lobster while tailgating at the New York Jets' home games is rather impressive. There is no doubt that New Yorkers bring the best wherever they go.

    No tailgating is allowed outside the stadium, so unless you have a premier parking spot, you might not enjoy your experience to the fullest. Don't even bother arguing because remember, you are dealing with people from New York. They don't appreciate people arguing with them.

17. New York Giants

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    Stadium Name: New Meadowlands

    Best Tailgating Offerings: Burning jerseys, steak

    Look, one of the New York teams had to be ranked higher and Giants' fans just seem a little more involved in the tailgating experience than Jets' fans.

    If you are a Jets fan and that statement upset you, I'm sorry, but you need to step up your game and start burning some jerseys in the parking lot. Everyone is doing it and it is time you got on board.

    Burning jerseys is certainly the greatest thing that Giants' tailgates do, but these are simple people who love their home team and enjoy tailgating.

16. Indianapolis Colts

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    Stadium Name: Lucas Oil Stadium

    Best Tailgating Offerings: Meat and potatoes

    Even without a unique offering of food or liquor, the Indianapolis Colts rank this high because of the passion of their fans. 

    I figure if my mother-in-law loves the Colts enough to wear a Peyton Manning jersey every Sunday, there is some definite loyalty there.

15. Washington Redskins

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    Stadium Name: FedEx Field

    Best Tailgating Offerings: Shrimp, wine, men dressed as pigs

    Unless you are a season ticket holder for the Washington Redskins, it is unlikely that you will be able to tailgate at FedEx Field. This is a shame because some of the best tailgaters generally aren't season ticket holders.

    However, even without the casual fan, the Redskins' tailgaters are a rowdy bunch who know how to party. If security would allow mingling, Washington would likely rank higher on this list.

14. Miami Dolphins

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    Stadium Name: Sun Life Stadium

    Best Tailgating Offerings: Cuban food, roasted pig, NFL's best looking cheerleaders

    Few NFL teams have as much diversity in their tailgating as the Miami Dolphins. Their fan base is spread across numerous different cultures, all of which bring a unique aspect to the tailgating experience.

    It also helps to have very good looking cheerleaders that make the rounds before the game.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Stadium Name: Raymond James Stadium

    Best Tailgating Offerings: Giant pirate ship, all the seafood you can dream of

    Even as a newer franchise, the people of Tampa Bay have become extremely fond of their team, which shows in their passionate tailgating. These people are friendly and willing to help a fellow tailgater.

    The security is strict at Raymond James Stadium, but not too strict to take away from the tailgating experience.

    There is also that gigantic pirate ship to enjoy while tailgating with makes for a truly unique experience.

12. Denver Broncos

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    Stadium Name: Invesco Field at Mile High

    Best Tailgating Offerings: The Barrel Man, Micro-breweries, low amount of oxygen

    What more could you ask for than tailgating at 5,280 feet above sea level?

    With quality food and a man who wears only a barrel, the Denver Broncos know how to tailgate. However, the best thing about Denver is that it is filled with Micro-breweries that provide delicious and unique beer to all tailgaters.

    Plus, at such a high elevation, you don't need too much beer to get drunk. That's just an added bonus.

11. New England Patriots

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    Stadium Name: Gilette Stadium

    Best Tailgating Offerings: Clam chowder, possibility of seeing Gisele Bundchen

    I know it is a long shot to see Tom Brady's wife in a parking lot in the middle of winter, but New England Patriots' tailgaters can at least dream, can't they?

    With some of the best clam chowder in the world and very, very passionate fans, the Patriots tailgaters have been known to tailgate all day. Some even get so involved in tailgating (drinking) that they have been known to actually miss parts of the game.

    It must be one fantastic tailgating experience to make you miss part of a game you paid a large amount of money to attend.

10. Baltimore Ravens

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    Stadium Name: M&T Bank Stadium

    Best Tailgating Offerings: Crab cakes, oysters, S.W.A.T.

    Even with their own S.W.A.T. (Stop Working and Tailgate) unit, the Baltimore Ravens' tailgaters still find themselves barely making the top 10. M&T Bank Stadium is located in downtown Baltimore, but that doesn't take away from the tailgating experience.

    Seafood dominates the menu, but it would be nice to see a little more variety from Ravens' fans. I mean, I love seafood, but every now and then a man needs a burger.

9. Chicago Bears

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    Stadium Name: Soldier Field

    Best Tailgating Offerings: Grilled Krispy Kreme donuts

    The reason the Chicago Bears land at the ninth spot on this list is because these fans are just as faithful to tailgate in below freezing weather than they are to tailgate in perfect, sunny weather. It takes a special type of person to sit outside and drink beer when you can't even feel your face anymore.

    What I love most about Chicagonians is that their most popular tailgating food is grilled Krispy Kreme donuts. Come on, how could you not want to fire up your grill right now and see how delicious they are?

    As much as I dislike the Chicago Bears, I have to hand it to their tailgaters because they are dedicated to their team.

8. Cleveland Browns

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    Stadium Name: Cleveland Browns Stadium

    Best Tailgating Offerings: Ruthless fans, plum brandy, beer-can chicken

    If there was ever a stadium that I would be scared to wear the away team's jersey at, it would be Cleveland Browns Stadium. Cleveland Browns' fans are absolutely ruthless to anyone who dares oppose them.

    Plum brandy and beer-can chicken sound like a delicious duo and one I cannot wait to try. Loyal fans plus great food equals a fantastic tailgating time.

    Not to mention, there is a gigantic bus painted like a dog holding a keg of beer and wearing a helmet. How awesome is that?

7. Houston Texans

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    Stadium Name: Reliant Stadium

    Best Tailgating Offerings: All the beef you can imagine

    First, how awesome is that picture above? Whoever that man is, I want to be his friend right now.

    With that said, you may be surprised to see such a young franchise this high on the tailgating list, but make no mistake, the Houston Texans' fans know how to tailgate. The stadium is ideal for tailgating and is always packed to the gills with faithful Texans' lovers.

    If you are meat person, Texas is the meat capitol of the United States and Texans' tailgates have every type of beef you could dream of. Seriously, name a cut of beer and I guarantee that it is marinating right now to be prepared for the first regular season home game.

6. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Stadium Name: Heinz Field

    Best Tailgating Offerings: The Terrible Towel, Kielbasa, Pierogies

    Once I saw that Pierogies are a favorite tailgating food at Heinz Field, I was attempted to put them at the top spot on this list. If you've never had a Pierogie, I suggest you drop everything you are doing and get one right now. They are incredible.

    However, after long hours of debating and eating Pierogies, I came to my sense and put the Pittsburgh Steelers' tailgaters in the correct spot. Heinz Field is an awesome place on Sunday as tailgaters show up an incredible five hours before game time. Tailgating is so popular here that if you don't show up at exactly 8 AM to tailgate, you absolutely won't have a parking spot to tailgate.

    That is what I call dedication.

5. Philadelphia Eagles

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    Stadium Name: Lincoln Financial Field

    Best Tailgating Offerings: Philly Cheese Steak

    Most everyone knows how passionate the city of Philadelphia is for their sports teams and it is no different for the Philadelphia Eagles. Fans are loud, dedicated to their team and sometimes angry.

    The best food offering is the famous Philly Cheese Steak sandwich that is always made to perfection. There is plenty of beer to go around, which usually makes Philly fans that much more aggressive.

    The only downside to this tailgating party is when the Eagles lose. You don't even want to know what happens.

4. Buffalo Bills

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    Stadium Name: Ralph Wilson Stadium

    Best Tailgating Offerings: Kummelweck, white pizza, plenty of ketchup and mustard

    You got to give some credit to Buffalo Bills' fans. Even when their team lost four straight Super Bowls, the tailgating was one-of-a-kind.

    Now with the team clearly in a rebuilding stage, the tailgaters are as strong as ever. For those of you who don't know what Kummelweck is, it is a special Kaiser roll that the people of Buffalo use to serve their burgers on.

    However, don't ask for ketchup or mustard on that burger because the picture above is what will happen to you.

3. Oakland Raiders

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    Stadium Name: Field

    Best Tailgating Offerings: Craziest fans on the planet, entire pigs to eat

    You know you have quality tailgating when people start lining up outside the stadium Friday night in their RVs. That is dedication.

    Even though Oakland Raiders' fans are known for being extremely crazy, they are actually rather pleasant people to tailgate with. They are entertaining and they always bring enough food and drink to feed a small country.

2. Green Bay Packers

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    Stadium Name: Lambeau Field

    Best Tailgating Offerings: Cheese, bratwursts, more cheese

    The people of Green Bay know how to tailgate. Maybe they get so passionate about tailgating because most of the tailgaters are actual owners of the team. However, my gut tells me they are so passionate because they live in Green Bay and there is absolutely nothing else to do.

    On Sundays in Green Bay, the streets are quiet, the beer is flowing and the food is plenteous. It is hard to find a nicer community of tailgaters as Green Bay Packers' tailgaters live by the rule of sharing.

    This place is called Titletown for a reason and their tailgating experience almost takes the top spot.

1. Kansas City Chiefs

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    Stadium Name: Arrowhead Stadium

    Best Tailgating Offerings: Barbecue of every variety

    Congratulations Kansas City Chiefs' tailgaters. You are the top tailgating NFL team and this is a title that doesn't appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. If you are looking for the ultimate tailgating experience, buy a red shirt, some beer and brisket and head down to Kansas City.

    No fans love tailgating more than Chiefs' fans who literally start tailgating 48 hours before the game actually starts. They are absolutely out of control from the early morning to well after the game is finished. Everyone in the parking lot wears red and there is more than enough delicious barbecue to go around.

    The Kansas City Chiefs take tailgating to a whole new level and to be honest, it wasn't even a close competition.