Football is played by opposing teams of 11 men lined up against each other on a field, but it is widely acknowledged that outcomes can be decided by intangible elements. The average football broadcast contains several references to things like hustle, determination and momentum, for example.

But does the sport answer to a higher power? A new study, timed with the imminent Super Bowl, suggested plenty of Americans believe so, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

According to a recently released study by the Public Religion Research Institute, 25 percent of Americans believe God plays some role in deciding who wins and loses in sporting events. The study found that the groups most likely to hold this belief are white evangelical Protestants and non-white Protestants; Americans of other religious affiliations were progressively less likely to believe God had anything to do with sports. Only 9 percent of unaffiliated Americans believed that, for example.

Of those polled, 49 percent believed religiously devout athletes were more likely to find success in their fields. Tim Tebow was the go-to favorite for Christian football fans during the height of his career, but Eagles quarterback Nick Foles plans on becoming a pastor after his career is over, too. One does not need to look far to find spirituality in the NFL, as pre- and post-game prayer circles are common throughout the league.

Outside of football, the American population has slowly become less religious in recent years. Young people, in particular, are not as devout as older generations.

tebow Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos looks to pass in the first quarter against the New England Patriots during their AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Photo: Elsa/Getty Images