Even if you are a die-hard Cleveland Browns fan, I'm sure you're not always content playing as the Browns on Madden NFL 11. In an article published a few days ago by the New York Times, research shows that the teams fans choose to play with tend to mimic a team's ups and downs:
For example, game players seemed to follow Randy Moss’s high receiver ratings from team to team. And as some teams fizzled out of playoff contention, they saw their popularity in Madden disappear. The Cincinnati Bengals and the Dallas Cowboys peaked in popularity the first week the game came out, and decreased steadily as the real teams accumulated losses.
The Packers and Steelers gained popularity as the postseason progressed, but it was the Philadelphia Eagles who blew most of the other teams in the league out of the water. I guess that goes along with the fascination of having so much speed at the quarterback and receiver position.
It was fascinating to see the shift in popularity for Randy Moss, even if he didn't do anything with his new teams. Just pay attention to the unbelievable spikes for the Vikings and Titans (the Patriots suffered a minimal dropoff).
As far as Cleveland goes, they remained consistent through most of the season but finished 26th overall in popularity. Despite the outstanding season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they finished 29th overall. It is funny to watch Cincinnati's decline too -- they were the 4th most popular team in Week 1, but at the end of the season, they were only the 27th most popular team, finishing with an average of No. 17 overall.