The great Madden 17 weekly experiment has resulted in a number of outrageous claims and plenty of upsets. At a 59-71-2, the rate of a video game simulating the results of each matchup correctly 45% of the time lines us up as the 2nd-worst expert pick of the year.
Nevertheless, we’re using this knowledge as part of an ongoing experiment into the psyche of gaming enthusiasts and sports enthusiasts. So far, results produced fall in line with defeat more than victory, with Madden 17 oddly betting against more teams than others throughout the year. Perhaps they have secret favorites? Perhaps certain playbooks run better in the video game than others? Nobody knows for sure, but after the full season is done, I intend to find out.
If you’re new to this feature, the NFL Week 11 matchups (like those in the previous weeks) are simulated using Madden 17 on All-Pro difficulty, completing the simulation with six-minute quarters. Once the prompt for kickoff/kick return appears, we press the Super Sim button to simulate the results. Screenshots are grabbed after the results are presented.
If you had any notion that we’re picking and choosing results that we think will happen, I’m certain not even 1% of experts would willingly pick this first Madden 17 simulation result.
Pittsburgh Steelers 35 – Cleveland Browns 37
C’mon, Madden 17. Be better!
In all honesty, this game was a back-and-forth roller coaster, where Cody Kessler threw for 414 yards, completing 75% of his 37 passing attempts, scored two passing touchdowns and only got picked off once.
The sim looked to be a classic QB shootout, with six different receivers on either team bringing in at least 75 receiving yards. Each team had a receiver with at least 120 yards, including Ladarius Green with his two touchdowns on the day. In the end, a Cody Parkey 54-yard kick gave the Cleveland Browns their first win of the season.
The long national nightmare is over; the Dallas Cowboys are officially Dak Prescott’s team. With four touchdowns, zero interceptions and 323 passing yards on the day, Dak certainly made the Cowboys men of his own in this game, with the rookie further solidifying his case for Rookie of the Year.
While Tony Romo tries to stay lean, mean, and relatively healthy ahead of a possible 2017 offseason showcase, the Baltimore Ravens wish he was still in as QB. In the air and on the ground, the Ravens were outmatched, with fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliot carving up the defense for 114 yards on 26 attempts.
Madden 17 Elite Watch
While not embarrassing himself in the pocket, Joe Flacco’s 19-34 passing, 257 yards, two touchdowns and an interception doesn’t hold up as elite against his QB counterpart.
I don’t know what Madden 17 developers expect of Blake Bortles, but it is nothing short of excellence, week in and week out. After last week’s sim placed him helping out his offense for forty-god-damn-five points against the Texans defense, now Bortles is expected to be held to a 136.5 QB rating on 25-30 passing, three touchdowns, zero interceptions and 263 yards. Did his agent give EA Sports money to prop him up like this? Reality says no, but the heart says yes.
The second quarter was where the Jacksonville Jaguars really laid into the Detroit Lions passing defense. Julius Thomas played the short gain passes well, being the successful target in the end zone twice in the quarter alone. From there, the Jags kept running the ball for the majority of the rest of the game, slowly chewing the clock while converting 66% of their 3rd down attempts to maintain possession of the ball longer.
This is a make-or-break game for both the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts. After a huge win over the struggling Green Bay Packers last week, Madden 17 has instilled the confidence of a much better team, opting to give the Titans their second win in a row on the back of some late-game heroics.
No, Marcus Mariota wasn’t lighting it up in this game, as his paltry 154 passing yards, one touchdown, and a pick-six will do not team any favors. Instead, it was equal parts Succop field goals from 44 and 51 yards, respectively, bookending two one-yard touchdown runs from RB1 and RB2.
It was a cumulative team effort for the Titans to come back to win this game as much as it was an embarrassment of defensive misplay riches for the Colts. Despite having a 19-10 lead midway through the third quarter, the Titans scored 20 of their 30 points in the final ~35% of the game’s clock. The Colts couldn’t convert on 3rd downs, or gave the ball away too often, for them to really capitalize on their early lead.
The Buffalo Bills are so close to the Canadian border that the NFL must have thought they were playing by CFL rules in awarding them a one-point rouge in the first quarter!
Obviously, it was a visual error, as it was a Tyrod Taylor pass for a touchdown, as opposed to the sacred one-point play. Unlike a good Canadian, Taylor will not say “sorry” for his performance on the Buffalo Bills in Madden 17, with four touchdowns, 202 yards and 21-28 passing on the day. The entirety of the Bills offense had big game opportunities abound, with even LeSean McCoy running the ball for 152 yards and a touchdown.
Marquise Goodwin was the oft-targeted receiver on the day but only gathered 38 yards on the day. Fortunately for him, though, he was often the intended target in the red zone, with receiving touchdowns on the day. The Cincinnati Bengals lacked in all team stats with the exception of penalties and penalty yardage, and it’s hard to win against a team that converts 3rd downs 15 out of 16 times.
With the Kansas City Chiefs holding a strong 20-0 lead through the middle of the second quarter of this Madden 17 simulation, you would think Alex Smith would park the brakes and hand the ball off a bit more. Instead, generating just 110 yards of rushing offense for the entire team (fairly low for the Chiefs’ running back core), the team continues to make short passing plays complemented with late-drive rushes.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had some scoring opportunities but continued to just hand their opponents the ball…literally. Two fumbles, one of which was forced, meant giving a team with 418 yards of offense to give more chances to drive a bigger lead. Oh, but that didn’t happen (with the exception of a fourth quarter field goal), as the Chiefs kept the ball rolling and moving forward slowly in a way that makes it feel like the game was always close in hand.
With the Chiefs possibly going to 8-2 on the record, it should be noted just how well this team is set to do without the dynamic running force of Jamaal Charles in their running core.
With Jay Cutler seemingly saving his job with a great performance last week, he may have put himself on the chopping block with the loss against the New York Giants this week. It shouldn’t be entirely his fault, however, as he threw for 250 yards on 22-30 passing for three touchdowns and two interceptions. While not an elite set of stats, he did outperform Eli Manning, who threw for just one touchdown and two interceptions on 18-31 passing and 255 passing yards.
The big difference was in the rushing game, with Rashad Jennings helping the Giants slowly, but surely, escape from the cellar of team rushing stats with a 128-yard game, alongside a rushing touchdown. If the Giants continue to have options in the air and on the ground, they’ll be able to win games by more than just a touchdown.
The Giants have been lucky with their close wins, with this being their fifth in a row, but with a Chicago Bears team in the midst of needing a major shakeup, a victory here is expected.
Madden 17 still views the Minnesota Vikings as an elite team, being one of the few to sit in the 90 Overall team rating for so long. This is in the face of four straight losses, including one to the lowly Chicago Bears. That said, the Arizona Cardinals had the better day in this simulation, but they were lucky to get the win at all.
Regarding team stats, the Cardinals outperformed their opponent in just a few categories. They scored once more in the red zone, converted 10 of 16 3rd downs instead of the Vikings who had ten successful conversions out of 17, and rushed a few more yards than the Vikings. Furthermore, the Cardinals had only one total touchdown on the day, with 15 of 22 points coming on kicks.
Most importantly, it turns out, was the fact that the Cardinals had possession of the ball longer than the Vikings. That seems to be a huge hidden factor for what Madden 17 considers to be the victor in a matchup; perhaps too much compared to the base reality of the stats. It will be something to look at going forward in our search for how this game ranks factors in its algorithm.
Welcome to the Jared Goff Experience, as the training wheels are finally (apparently) off for the Los Angeles Rams rookie. He didn’t look as elite as it would have been for maximum comical effect, but he got the win by putting fairly okay numbers. He was passing for 263 on 24-40 for his completions, scoring a touchdown and getting intercepted once.
It’s not hard to outperform Ryan Tannehill, but more importantly, neither offense was good enough to stand up to their opponents’ defense. The 438 yards of total offense for the Dolphins resulted in a time of possession lead of more than double the Rams. They scored all three times they were in the red zone. They even had a better 3rd down conversion rate, at 58% over the Rams’ poor 25% performance.
However, it’s the number of opportunities lost that did the Dolphins in. The Rams used their time efficiently to get to within field goal range quickly, but it was in the final minutes in opposition to the Miami field goal that gave the Rams one last scoring chance. Todd Gurley ran the ball in for a one-yard touchdown to win the game for his team.
Madden 17 produced the expected winner, but perhaps not the expected results. Colin Kaepernick didn’t score any passing touchdowns but didn’t get picked off, either. Meanwhile, the ageless Tom Brady threw for 25-31 passing to get 250 yards and three touchdowns. That 132.5 QB rating for the day is hard to beat, and the Patriots continue to look unstoppable with Brady unless they’re playing against an elite team.
That’s not to say that Kaepernick didn’t capitalize on his chances, however. He’s responsible for more than half of the team’s rushing yards with 122 and pulled it off on just eight different attempts. He got a touchdown on a huge 88-yard play on the tackle he managed to break all game.
His arm isn’t what it used to be, but it’s possible for Kaepernick to blossom in this kind of quarterback role. The ability to get some yards on the ground and in the air as the leader of the offense will keep defenses on their toes. The only problem, however, is that you need to be good enough to convince defenses you can do either well.
46 total points between these two teams, yet only Carson Wentz had a single passing touchdown. That just tells you how much of a slugfest this matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks was, with both of the Seahawks touchdowns coming off of the running game.
Despite this fact, it’s Ryan Mathews who rises above the rest in this Madden 17 simulation. He had 31 rushing attempts on the day to rack up 119 yards and a touchdown, establishing himself and the Eagles offense as the dictators of the pace of play.
Despite the score difference being less than a touchdown, the Eagles jumped ahead to a 20-3 lead at the half and never looked back. Even though the Seahawks came back in the 3rd quarter, the Eagles led in rushing yards, passing yards, first downs, punt return yards, kick return yards, 3rd down conversions, red zone efficiency and almost doubled the Seahawks’ time of possession. If anything, the Seahawks should be commended for keeping things close.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. While I could go on and on about the off-field disappointments, distractions, and disillusionary comments about the professional personality of one Aaron Rodgers, more importantly, this Madden 17 sim suggests that he wouldn’t have done well against this Washington football team, anyways.
It’s not like many would fare better than Kirk Cousins on a day where he threw for 23-30 passing, 246 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions, but Rodgers completed just 58% of his 43 passes for a touchdown and an interception. Granted, he did throw for almost 50 additional yards over Cousins, but with one team touchdown on the day, you can’t win games with this performance.
This season has been just one “it can’t get any worse” moment after another for the Green Bay Packers. Hopefully, the necessary adjustments can be made as quickly as possible so that not-Mike McCarthy can lead this team back to playoff contention, and pronto.
When the Houston Texans traded for Brock Osweiler, it was for days like this one against the Oakland Raiders. Not only did the quarterback put out the best passer rating of the weekend at 140.1, he did so on the back of 21 completed passes for 289 yards. His five touchdowns and no interceptions represent his best ratio yet, redeeming himself for some of the poor performances Madden 17 expects out of him.
Still, even with Osweiler putting his team through the motions in the air, there was still 113 yards made up by Lamar Miller to balance the offense, indicating that the Raiders’ defense was outplayed in all facets of play.
DeAndre Hopkins was your ultimate player of the day, all things told, as he bumped his touchdown total by three on the night over seven receptions and 87 receiving yards. Despite the seemingly constant success of the Houston Texans as a team in the face of key injuries (like J.J. Watt), perhaps a confident Brock will scissor through best plans made on paper.