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Madden predicts a big game in the Big Easy, with playoff implications all around

This week and every week for the remainder of the NFL season, we will bring you weekly game predictions courtesy of EA Sports’ Madden NFL 25. Our methodology: Each week we will update the rosters using the game’s roster download feature to make sure the game lineups reflect the real teams, then we’ll simulate the week’s match-ups using the Franchise Owner mode. We’ll record the simulation’s scores, its best players of the week, and the injury reports, then post these results each Saturday. This makes the Thursday game something of a litmus test (Madden 25 is 10-5 so far this season on Thursday games) – you can use this info for fantasy or gambling purposes. Or you can ignore it entirely. What does Madden know about football, anyway?

After a string of losing weeks, Madden managed to claw its way back to .500 during Week 13, but the scores it picked were a little overzealous. As the season grinds on, the odds of major blowouts are decreasing all the time. Defenses find ways to slow hot offenses, injuries hurt the production of the best scoring machines, and a grueling schedule in the NFL makes teams more alike as fatigue kicks in. We’ll still see the odd blowout, but the days of teams scoring more than 40 points are likely behind us (with the possible exception of the Broncos and Peyton Manning, who the League may want to test to see if he is a robot.)

This week Madden only picked two teams to score more than 40 points, which by Madden standards is showing restraint. The first is the New York Giants in a blowout of the Chargers. As far as picking blowouts go though, that’s not a bad one to pick. Both teams share a 5-7 record, and although the Chargers have significantly outscored the New York football Giants 279 to 237 this season, the Giants are 4-1 in the last five games while the Chargers are 1-4.

There are a handful of divisional rivalries this week, as well as games that could completely reshape the wildcard race.

The other blowout is a bit more suspect. Madden is predicting that the Bears will destroy the Cowboys by a coach-firingly bad 31 points. The 7-5 Cowboys actually having a better record than the 6-6 Bears, plus the prediction is based on the return of Jay Cutler, who is currently listed as questionable due to an ankle injury. Backup quarterback Josh McCown has done decently in his absence, but the Bears are on a two-game losing streak. The game is in Chicago though, and the “don’t lick a metal post or your tongue will freeze to it” weather should favor the Bears over the Cowboys, who are used to the comforts of Jerry World.

With only four more weeks of regular-season football left, and only one team having clinched a playoff spot (the Seahawks seized one on Monday by defeating the Saints, and Seattle is now playing for home field advantage), expect some tough and intense games. There are a handful of divisional rivalries this week, as well as games that could completely reshape the wildcard race.

The best of the best this week includes a matchup of division leaders Cincinnati (8-4) and Indianapolis (8-4). Both teams are firmly in charge of their own divisions and a loss wouldn’t necessarily hurt either’s playoff chances. It could impact home field standing though, so this will be one to watch. The game will be played in Cincinnati, but the biggest factor may be which Andy Dalton shows up. The Bengals QB has thrown eight interceptions in the last four weeks, matching his interception total for the rest of the season combined.

The next game to watch is Detroit (7-5) at Philadelphia (7-5). Another non-divisional game with a big playoff footprint, the Lions and Eagles have combined to score 626 points and given up 568. Expect a high-scoring game.

And finally, in what looks like it will be the game of the week, Carolina (9-3) heads to New Orleans (9-3) in a divisional matchup between two teams undefeated in the NFC South. The winner will take the lead in the division, while the loser is thrown into the wildcard hunt. New Orleans is coming off a huge loss to Seattle, but still features the seventh highest scoring offense in the NFL. Carolina on the other hand, brings with it an eight-game winning streak, and has given up the fewest points of any team in the NFL this season.

Week 14 League Leaders:

Quarterbacks

Jay Cutler: 412 yards 3 TD
Matt Stafford: 373 yards 3 TD
Eli Manning: 386 yards 3 TD 1 INT
Peyton Manning: 347 yards 2 TD
Drew Brees: 328 yards 3 TD

Wide Receivers

Brandon Marshall: 185 yards 2 TD
Calvin Johnson: 164 yards 2 TD
Wes Welker: 147 yards 1 TD
Victor Cruz: 134 yards 2 TD
Marques Colston: 127 yards 1 TD

Running Backs

Jamaal Charles: 146 yards 2 TD
Ray Rice: 137 yards 2 TD
Knowshon Moreno: 134 yards 1 TD
Ben Tate: 127 yards 1 TD
CJ Spiller: 124 yards 1 TD

Injuries

Darren Sproles (HB): 7 weeks Dislocated ankle
Adrian Peterson (HB): 1 week Broken thumb
Ben Roethlisberger (QB): 5 weeks Broken wrist

Week 14 Game Results:

Thursday Night Game

Madden Result   Actual Result  
Houston: 22 Jacksonville: 19 Houston: 20 Jacksonville: 27

Sunday Games

Madden Result   Actual Result  
Indianapolis: 21 Cincinnati: 13 Indianapolis: 28 Cincinnati: 42
New England: 20 Cleveland: 14 New England: 27 Cleveland: 26
Oakland: 23 NY Jets: 14 Oakland: 27 NY Jets: 37
New Orleans: 34 Carolina: 20 New Orleans: 31 Carolina: 13
Detroit: 34 Philadelphia: 29 Detroit: 20 Philadelphia: 34
Pittsburgh: 27 Miami: 14 Pittsburgh: 28 Miami: 34
Buffalo: 29 Tampa Bay: 17 Buffalo: 6 Tampa Bay: 27
Kansas City: 27 Washington: 19 Kansas City: 45 Washington: 10
Baltimore: 31 Minnesota: 24 Baltimore: 29 Minnesota: 26
Denver: 23 Tennessee: 19 Denver: 51 Tennessee: 28
St. Louis: 31 Arizona: 10 St. Louis: 10 Arizona: 30
NY Giants: 42 San Diego: 31 NY Giants: 14 San Diego: 37
Seattle: 30 San Francisco: 12 Seattle: 17 San Francisco: 19
Atlanta: 31 Green Bay: 24 Atlanta: 21 Green Bay: 22

Monday Night Game

Madden Result   Actual Result  
Chicago: 41 Dallas: 10 Chicago: 45 Dallas: 28

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