Madden Week 1 versus the NFL Week 1: So how good a simulation is it?
A few years back while I was keyboard monkey at another outlet, I ran a weekly column where I would simulate each week of the NFL season in that year’s edition of Madden, and then compare it to the week’s actual results. Besides the games, I also tracked the individual players’ stats.
It was brutally dull to go over two sets of numbers, but it was interesting to see how the simulation stacked up. Sometimes it was shockingly accurate – it even managed to predict a few injuries, which was super creepy. At more than one point I considered burning the game like a witch in Salem, but I had work to do and I am unafraid.
I won’t do that for this season of the NFL, it just gets too number crunchy after a while, but I did want to see how the game stacked up in the first week. I may also do a few other things with the simulator portion as the season goes on.
Madden 16 is an impressive simulator that is meticulous in its recreation of the game, but sometimes it does better than others. Here’s how the game did in simulating week one.
The game results (actual results in bold):
Patriots 31 Steelers 24 (NE 28 – Pit 21)
Packers 35 Bears 0 (GB 31 – Chi 23)
Texans 35 Chiefs 28 (KC 27- Hou 20)
Browns 37 Jets 3 (NYJ 31 – Cle10)
Bills 23 Colts 16 (Buf 27 – Ind14)
Redskins 23 Dolphins 17 (Mia17 – Was 10)
Panthers 31 Jaguars 24 (Car 20 – Jax 9)
Seahawks 41- Rams 14 (StL 34 – Sea 31)
Cardinals 45 Saints 13 (Ari 31 – NO 19)
Lions 33 Chargers 20 (SD 33 – Det 28)
Titans 34 Buccaneers 31 (Ten 42 – TB 14)
Bengals 23 Raiders 0 (Cin 33 – Oak 13)
Ravens 22 Broncos 20 (Den 19 – Bal 13)
Giants 27 Cowboys 10 (Dal 27 – NYG 26)
Eagles 41 Falcons 15 (Atl 26 – Phi 24)
Vikings 21 49ers 14 (SF 20 – Min 3)
In total, Madden 16 went 7-9. Not a particularly auspicious week 1, but football is a mercurial thing and even the best simulators can’t predict everything.
I also went ahead and checked some of the best players in week 1 of Madden 16 and compared them to their real life counterparts. The results varied, but it did get one thing very right: the success of Marcus Matiota. The other quarterbacks? Not so much.
Madden simulated that the top three QBs in week 1 would be Cam Newton (QB rating of 138.0), Eli Manning (131.1), and Colin Kaepernick (128.1). In reality, all three QBS performed poorly, with the best of the bunch – Kaepernick – hitting 83.0.
It did, however, predict that Mariota would do well in his debut for the Titans. It simulated that he would have a 371 yard game with 1 TD and 2 INTs. That would have been a solid debut, but his real numbers were much more impressive – he tossed for just 209 yards, but that went along with 4 TDs and no INTs, and had an astonishing QB rating of 158.3. Mariota was even pulled in the 4th quarter since the Titans were winning big.
Madden did get the other side of that game wrong though. It simulated that Jameis Winston would throw for 301 yards with 3TDs and 1 INT. In reality, he threw for 210 yards with 2TDs and 2 INTs, and an abysmal 64.0 QB rating.
Other than that, Madden 16 was fairly on target. It predicted Rodgers would do well, Julio Jones would have a big week, and Matt Forte would dominate. All true, and all unsurprising.
There was one other bizarre, and kind of weird thing that the game got correct. Madden 16 benched the Texans starting QB Brian Hoyer after he threw 119 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT with a 68.3 QB rating, then had backup Ryan Mallet lead Houston to the win with 154 yards, 2 TDs, and a 118.3 QB rating.
Except for the comeback win, that actually did happen. In reality, Hoyer had a QB rating of 72.7 and was pulled after throwing for 236 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. Mallett then came in to put up 98 yards and 1 TD, with a QB rating of 110. 4. The Texans lost the game, but it was close.