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Summary:

Facebook’s data scientists have crunched the numbers (well, the text) and — if fan sentiment is any indicator — it looks like Denver is the Super Bowl favorite. Over the course of the season, and the playoffs, teams garnering more positive words win more often.

super bowl sentiment

The data science team at Facebook has analyzed users’ posts about National Football League teams over the course of the season and has shared the results in a blog post. They show some interesting trends in the fluctuations of fans’ sentiments before, during and after games, and — if the overall pattern is any indicator — might point to a Denver Broncos victory in Sunday’s Super Bowl.

I tend to think Facebook might be a better gauge of sentiment for topics like sports, if only because its user base is so much larger and more engaged, and users — from all I’ve heard — engage in more personal discussions on Facebook than on places like Twitter. You can see in this chart how, over the course of a season, fans of teams that won their games tend to use more positive language about their teams leading up to the games (and definitely during and after them).

nfl sentimentBut the really interesting part of this experiment is the timing — because, of course, the Super Bowl is being played on Sunday between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. If Floyd Mayweather’s reported $10.4 million bet on Denver wasn’t enough to convince you it will win, maybe this graph of Facebook-user sentiment will.

super bowl sentimentHowever, post author Sean Taylor points out, this is hardly a guarantee:

“In the playoffs so far, the team with the best pre-game sentiment (two hours before each game) has won nine out of ten times. However, when we used ratio of pre-game sentiment scores between the two teams as a predictor for the regular season, we measured an AUC of 0.65, indicating that it’s not generally useful (beyond say, their win-loss records).”

Vegas has Denver, Facebook has Denver. Now seems like as a good a time as any for bandwagon-jumpers to go grab a Peyton Manning jersey.