The NFL regular season may have concluded, but the games are far from over. The playoffs are upon us, which calls for a few changes to how we do things. Throughout the season we’ve used two platforms to simulate the week’s games. During the first half of the season we used the Xbox 360 version of Madden 25. The results didn’t exactly border on telepathic, but they were consistently above .500 in terms of the number of correct picks. When we switched to the PlayStation 4, that percentage plummeted.
Still, we think that drop had more to do with the standard NFL issues, including injuries, disgruntled teammates, and inconsistent performances. There is no option in Madden to suspend a player and lose another due to bullying. And even if there was, the game wouldn’t be able to predict that team would then close ranks and rally, just narrowly missing the playoffs. Still, with the playoffs here, we decided to go back to the Xbox 360. We have a few surprises in mind regarding how we will run the Super Bowl simulation, but for the playoffs, we are back with what worked.
All three cold weather teams are predicted to win, and one of those wins would be a significant upset.
Madden doesn’t specifically make any claims when it comes to the influence of the weather, but all three cold weather teams are predicted to win, and one of those wins would be a significant upset. Is the Xbox 360 the key to Madden’s success? We’ll find out soon enough.
Saturday, January 4
Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) @ Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
In the first game of the playoffs, the Chiefs travel to Indianapolis for a rematch of the December 22 game played in Kansas City that the Colts won 23-7. According to Madden though, this game will be a much different story – almost the exact opposite, in fact. Playing under the dome in Indianapolis, the Chiefs are predicted to win by 17, just one point more than the Colts won by at Arrowhead stadium.
Madden has been hot on the Chiefs all season, and much of that is due to how it ranks Jamaal Charles. Just as in real life, the Chiefs’ running back will be the key to Kansas City’s success or failure. According to the simulation, the Chiefs will accumulate 298 yards of total offense to the Colts’ 141. Of those yards, 119 will be rushing, and 98 will belong to Charles – along with one touchdown.
Charles will also benefit from dominating defense, which will hold Colts QB Andrew Luck to just 120 yards with 2 INTs. QB Alex Smith, on the other hand, will put up a respectable, and error-free, 179 yards with 2 TDs, as the Chiefs move on.
Chiefs 24, Colts 7
New Orleans Saints (11-5) @ Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)
The warm-weather Saints head to Philadelphia just in time for an incoming winter storm. The weather report calls for sun on Saturday, but the temperature will still be right at freezing, with a high of 32. That might explain why Madden is predicting a poor showing from the Saints’ run defense.
The simulation is calling for an – unsurprisingly – good game from Saints QB Drew Brees, who went 36 of 47 for 370 yards and 2 TDs (with one early INT) in the sim. That’s a good game for Brees, but not as dominating a performance as what Madden is predicting for Eagles’ running back, LeSean McCoy.
In the sim, McCoy ran for 174 yards and a touchdown, including three carries for more than 20 yards each. In terms of total offense, the Saints recorded 409 yards compared to the Eagles 371, but Philly offered a much more balanced attack, with 205 of those yards coming from the run. New Orleans, on the other hand, had just 39 rushing yards on their way out of the playoffs.
Eagles 34, Saints 25
Sunday, January 5
San Diego Chargers (9-7) @ Cincinnati Bengals (11-5)
After narrowly defeating the Chiefs at home to secure their playoff berth, the warm-weather Chargers will head to Cincinnati. The weather reports claim the teams will miss the snow, but with temperatures in the high 30s, the cold will very much be an issue.
Although the Bengals are predicted to blow out the unlikely Chargers according to Madden, neither team is expected to put up much offense; it will all come down to defense. The Chargers are expected to put up 261 yards of total offense, while the Bengals will record 199. In the sim, Bengals’ QB Andy Dalton put up just 132 yards with no touchdowns. The Cincinnati defense, however, was dominant, scoring 14 points on interceptions alone.
Regardless of how the weather may factor in, Madden is picking a big day for the Bengals, and an unceremonious end to the Chargers’ surprising 2013 season.
Bengals 31, Chargers 9
San Francisco 49ers (12-4) @ Green Bay Packers (8-7-1)
On Saturday, there is a 50-percent chance of snow in Green Bay, and temperatures are expected to get down to zero. Meanwhile in San Francisco, temperatures are expected to by just shy of 70. Maybe that’s part of what propelled Madden to choose what would be the biggest upset of the playoffs.
Despite playing without their MVP quarterback for most of the season, the Packers managed to squeak into the playoffs with the worst record of any post-season team. Now that Aaron Rodgers is back though, that record means very little. It is a different team, and they will have the home-field advantage against the 49ers, a team that narrowly missed gaining a first-round bye and their own home-field advantage.
Madden is predicting a big day from the resurgent Rodgers, who is expected to throw for 301 yards and 1 TD against one of the best defenses in the league. 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick is also expected to have a good game, with 229 yards and a TD, but two interceptions will cost him, including one that will lead to a game-winning field goal as time expires, sending the Packers on to the next round and the 49ers home.
Packers 23, 49ers 21