Someone tell ‘Madden’ that you should never bet against the Patriots in December

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 10-6 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?

Change is hard for a sim. After a strong start to the season (11-5, 9-7, 10-6, 11-4), Madden has fallen back to earth over the past three weeks (6-9, 5-9, 7-9), but that should be expected. The game is working off pre-season statistical guesses that simply can’t account for the way things evolve over the course of an NFL season. How was Madden supposed to accurately forecast a breakout season by someone like Eagles QB Nick Foles, or the accelerated pace at which a young player like Russell Wilson rounded into an MVP-caliber player. Similarly, an algorithm can’t be expected to account for disappointing second-year efforts like those turned in by San Francisco’s Colin Kapernick or Washington’s Robert Griffin III.

Nevertheless, the game is not without the occasional turn away from the purely logical. For instance, according to Madden, Indianapolis versus Houston will end in a tie. Yes, there are ties in the NFL, but Madden rarely picks them. The Colts have already locked down a playoff spot, while Houston is playing for nothing under an interim coach, following the firing of Gary Kubiak. A tie would be weird, but it is possible – Green Bay and Minnesota played to a tie earlier this season.

Then there is San Diego at Denver. San Diego is effectively out of the playoff hunt, while Denver clinched a spot and is now in the lead for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. This will be Peyton Manning versus Philip Rivers though, the top rated quarterback versus the fourth best (in terms of yardage) QB in the league. Madden is predicting a combined 58 points. That seems conservative, considering the Broncos and Chargers have combined for 831 points this season.

Winning and losing are as much about intangibles as they are about probability, which is why Madden can predict New England to lose to Miami this week and every Patriots fan can scoff because they just don’t think you should bet against them in December. At this point in the season, teams are playing for the playoffs or for pride or for contracts, and no matter how good a simulation Madden might be, it just can’t account for those kinds of things. There is not a stat for the will to win. Go humans!

Week 15 League Leaders:


Philip Rivers: 327 yards 2 TDs
Peyton Manning: 312 yards 2 TD
Matt Stafford: 308 yards 2 TDs
Eli Manning:  302 yards 2 TDs
Colin Kapernick: 297 yards 3 TDs

Wide Receivers

AJ Green: 126 yards 1 TD
Demaryius Thomas: 121 yards 1 TD
Josh Gordon: 119 yards 2 TD
Victor Cruz: 118 yards 1 TD
Calvin Johnson: 108 yards 1 TD

Running Backs

Jamaal Charles: 163 yards 2 TD
Matt Forte: 127 yards 1 TD
LeSean McCoy: 126 yards 2 TD
Marshawn Lynch: 108 yards 2 TDs
Adrian Peterson: 105 yards 1 TD


CJ Spiller (HB): Pulled Groin 3 Weeks
Ryan Mathews (HB): Broken Jaw 1 Week
Steven Jackson (HB): Broken Ribs 5 weeks
Geno Smith (QB): Pulled Groin 4 weeks

Week 15 Game Results:

Thursday Night Game

Madden Result   Actual Result  
Denver: 31 San Diego: 27  Denver: 20 San Diego: 27

Sunday Games

Madden Result   Actual Result  
Washington: 35 Atlanta: 17 Washington: 26 Atlanta: 27
Tennessee: 31 Arizona: 21 Tennessee: 34 Arizona: 37
San Francisco: 27 Tampa Bay: 20  San Francisco: 33 Tampa Bay: 14 
New Orleans: 27 St. Louis: 10  New Orleans: 16 St. Louis: 27
Seattle: 29 NY Giants: 20  Seattle: 23 NY Giants: 0
Cleveland: 34 Chicago: 24 Cleveland: 31 Chicago: 38
Houston: 21 Indianapolis: 21 Houston: 3 Indianapolis: 25
Buffalo: 26 Jacksonville: 7 Buffalo: 27 Jacksonville: 20
Miami: 26 New England: 13 Miami: 24 New England: 20
Philadelphia: 27 Minnesota: 20 Philadelphia: 30 Minnesota: 48
Kansas City: 24 Oakland: 12 Kansas City: 56 Oakland: 31
NY Jets: 26 Carolina: 9 NY Jets: 20 Carolina: 30
Green Bay: 31 Dallas: 28 Green Bay: 37 Dallas: 36
Cincinnati: 18 Pittsburgh: 15 Cincinnati: 20 Pittsburgh: 30

Monday Night Game

Madden Result   Actual Result  
Detroit: 27 Baltimore: 19 Detroit: 16 Baltimore: 18

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