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Sports

America is rooting for you, Cincinnati. Twitter says so

cincinnati bengals fan holds a sign that says believe
Reed Hoffmann
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FR48783 AP
A Cincinnati Bengals fan had faith during the second half of the NFL AFC Championship football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022 in Kansas City, Mo.

Recently I was chatting with a friend who lives in L.A., and he — a diehard Rams fan — made a shocking admission: "America is rooting for Cincinnati," he told me. It made me stop and wonder: are they?

Many are aware of the Bengals history and their status as underdogs (a narrative quarterback Joe Burrow is "tired of") but did the rest of the nation really care about this rags to riches story as much as Ohio does?

In an act of kismet, soon after Twitter released the below heat map, which shows which states are tweeting about the Bengals (in orange) and which are tweeting about the Rams (in blue).

I think I have an answer to my question.

This heat map shows which states are tweeting about the Bengals (in orange) and which are tweeting about the Rams (in blue). Only California and Hawaii are blue; the rest of the country is orange.
Twitter
/
Courtesy
This heat map shows which states are tweeting about the Bengals (in orange) and which are tweeting about the Rams (in blue). Only California and Hawaii are blue; the rest of the country is orange.

Turns out, Twitter was just as surprised as I was by the results.

"I wouldn't have suspected it," says David Herman, senior sports partner manager at Twitter. " He thinks a few things are at play.

"One of the things we look at throughout the season with our partners at the NFL generally is, what are some of those storylines that are trending?" he says. "And of course, Joe Burrow is one of those — I mean, people are really getting behind this concept of like, 'Wow, he really did just win a national championship two years ago, and now this?' "

And let's not forget about that Heisman Trophy.

Also, Burrow's "grittiness" in his play.

"But you also have a lot of conversation celebrating a team that hasn't been to the Super Bowl in such a long time," Herman says. "And then as a follow up to that you obviously have the connection with Joe, and Ja'Marr (Chase) of LSU. Clemson has a ton of alums on the team; obviously, you have that sort of fan base fueling some of the conversation as well."

As for talk around the Rams?

"A lot of conversation is around the Rams having a Super Bowl in their home stadium, just like we saw with Tampa last year," Herman says, adding the Rams have a lot of big names that have been around the NFL a long time. "They went all-in for this year trading the draft picks and free agency — all of that stuff. There's been a lot of conversations like, 'The Rams really need to make that happen this year because they went all-in for it.' "

There's also some negative chatter around the Rams.

"There's still some negative sentiment related to the Rams and their move from St. Louis," Herman says. "There definitely can be some folks who are with the Bengals specifically to be against the Rams."

Along with the heat map, Twitter also shared the most used emojis when it came to each team. The Bengals' were, in descending order:

5. 👀

4. 🔥

3. 🗣

2. 🐅

1. 😂

The crying laughing emoji is No. 1?!

"Yeah, the emoji things are always fun," Herman says. "We joke about this internally. Who knows? I think the crying emoji is just a default for almost all of us, and in so many forms of conversation, so you have that show up a lot."

But what really catches Herman's eye is emoji No. 3, the talking head.

"I think that speaks directly to the confidence and swagger that the Bengals have with Joe and everyone else, because their confidence not only shows on the field, but off the field as well, in the way they're talking in interviews and on the platform, on Twitter, and all of that," he says. "So I really like the combination of what these emojis show in terms of the confidence that the team has, as well as the fans getting behind that and sort of speaking that into existence with them."