And then there were four. Last week, Madden only picked two games incorrectly! Of course, that was out of four, but let’s not get bogged down with semantics. This week marks the Conference Championships, and come Monday we’ll know which two teams are playing in Super Bowl XLVIII. Will the Broncos ride home-field advantage to the Big Game over the Patriots? Will the 49ers make their second straight appearance? Madden has some thoughts on that.
As with last week’s divisional games, we simulated each game to the best of our ability. We made sure the roster was as up to date as we could, set the weather based on current forecasts, and watched big-budget ads throughout the simulations just to make it feel more legit.
In the end, Madden predicted one very close game that – if accurate – would go down as one of the best playoff games in a long while, and one blowout. We’ll find out this Sunday if Madden has a future in this whole “predicting games” racket or not.
New England Patriots @ Denver Broncos
In the first game of the day, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning face off once again. If you follow sports, then you’ve probably heard someone bring up the fact that Brady and Manning have played 14 times during their careers, and Brady and the Patriots have won 10 of those. There’s an asterisk to that, though. Brady won the first six matchups, from 2001 through 2004, during a stretch where the Patriots won two Super Bowls. Since then, the two have split the remaining eight games four to four. Of course, the last meeting between the two was on November 24, and the Patriots won that game 34-31. This time though, the teams play in Denver.
Madden predicts that this game will be a shootout, and come down to the very last minute. Madden simulated the Broncos with more total offense, 368 to 307, but the passing yards were closer. Manning out threw Brady with 311 yards and 3 TDs; Brady ended up with 270 yards and 3 TDs. Manning also threw 2 interceptions to Brady’s single INT though. Both quarterbacks moved the ball around effectively, with each team finishing with three receivers recording over 70 yards.
Unlike what we saw from the real Pats during the last few games, the emphasis in Madden’s version was on passing. Against the Colts, the Patriots’ LeGarrette Blount ran for 166 yards and 4 TDs, but according to Madden, Blunt will tally a meager 56 yards and 1 TD. In the end though, it will come down to an 82-yard drive with under 2 minutes to go, ending with Brady connecting with Julian Edelman with 39 seconds left, sending the Patriots to their sixth Super Bowl since 2004
Score: Patriots 31, Broncos 30
San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks
While the first game of the day came down to the last minute of play, Madden is predicting the later game in Seattle will be something of a blowout. The NFC West divisional rivals will meet for the third time this season, with each team recording a win against the other at home. The last time these two met was just over a month ago on December 8 in San Francisco, where the 49ers won 19-17. In the previous meeting on September 15 in Seattle though, the Seahawks smashed the 49ers 29-3. Of course, this is the Conference Championship. Anything can happen.
In the battle between the two much-hyped sophomore quarterbacks, 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick threw for 261 yards and 2 TDs with 18 rushing yards, compared to Seahawks QB Russell Wilson’s 177 yards and 1 TD. Kaepernick also threw a costly pick-six interception in the third, and also gave up a fumble. Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch once again had a masterful game, rushing for 74 yards and 1 TD, while 49ers RB Frank Gore put up 52 yards and a TD.
According to Madden, Seattle will control the game from the very start, scoring 14 unanswered points and ending the first quarter 14-3. The Seahawks did not trail throughout the entire game. The 49ers did manage to bring it within four points at halftime, with the teams hitting the locker room with the score 14-10, but the third quarter was all Seattle. By the start of the fourth, the score was 31-10. The 49ers managed two 4th quarter touchdowns, but the outcome was never really in doubt, and the Seahawks advanced to their second Super Bowl in franchise history.
Score: Seahawks 31, 49ers 24