The Arizona Cardinals were the least popular team to play as in Madden 11 this season. According to EA Sports data obtained by The New York Times, of the more than 290 million games played (between Aug. 10, 2010 and Jan. 31, 2011) and tracked online across the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the current Madden, the Cardinals were chosen roughly 1 percent of the time as a human-controlled team by an undoubtedly stalwart core of fans still clinging to the Super Bowl run in '09 -- that's loyalty.

What the overall data suggests, however, is that many Madden players jumped on bandwagons from week to week, riding out the Eagles' dazzling, Week 10 demonstration -- at the Redskin's expense -- through most of the rest of the season to make Philly "by far the most popular team" to be selected. And players were just as quick to jump off, too: By the Cowboy's fifth-straight loss in Week 9, gamers began to accept that Dallas just wasn't going to get it done.

The rise of the Packers popularity (and Steelers' too), which peaked during the Conference Championship Games on January 23, is perhaps most illustrative of this trend, as the Green and Yellow spent most of the season hovering just above the NFL average for selection percentage until their real-life postseason surge pushed them to the "most popular team on Madden." Of course, we can never be certain how many of these fair-weather Packers players were actually attempting to channel the Curse and sabotage the return of the Lombardi Trophy to Titletown. (Psst, it's not gonna work until Rogers is on the cover.)

[Image graph source: NYTimes.com; click image to enlarge]

This article was originally published on Joystiq.