I am going to come out and say it: I do not understand the hype around preseason football. We do not learn a whole lot about the teams we see playing. The 2017 Cleveland Browns, who went 0-16 in the regular season, went 4-0 in the preseason. The 2017 New England Patriots, who made the Superbowl, went 1-3, losing to Jacksonville, the Texans, and the Giants. Those teams went a combined 17-31. 

So I decided not to write about the preseason because as interesting as some results might be, I don‘t think they really matter. We know who the good teams are. The preseason should not change our perception of the contenders. 

Instead of writing about the preseason, I decided to write about Madden 22, which came out on August 20th. I will not review the game; I thought it would be more fun to see what Madden thinks of the upcoming season. To avoid getting an outlier season, I simulated the upcoming season five times. Here are the results of my simulations:

 

Awards

MVP went to a few different players: Patrick Mahomes (twice), Saquon Barkley, Tom Brady, and Lamar Jackson.

Coach of the Year was similar to MVP, which went to four people: Bill Belichick (twice) Matt Rhule, Arthur Smith, and Urban Meyer.

In the AFC, Offensive Player of the Year went to Patrick Mahomes four times and Lamar Jackson once. It was a much bigger pool for the NFC; however, nobody could repeat as OPOY. Ezekiel Elliot won the first season, then Jamies Winston, Russell Wilson, Tom Brady, and Alvin Kamara.

In the AFC, four players received DPOY; Von Miller was able to win it twice, then Xavien Howard, Cameron Heyward, and Bradley Chubb. Only Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald won the award in the NFC, two times and three times, respectively.

Zach Wilson snagged OROY in the first season, but Trevor Lawerence claimed it in the next four. In the NFC, Justin Fields took the award home every single season.

The Defensive Rookie of the Year award in the AFC will please Irish fans. Jeremiah Owusu-Koamoah was given the award five times. In the NFC, Xaven Collins dominated the award and earned it four times, with Azeez Ojulari receiving it once.

 

Team rankings

 

Offense

I simply used yards to rank the top offenses in Madden; if I had more time, I would dive deeper into rankings. Ranked in the top five offenses every single time were the KC Chiefs averaging 6993 yards. The second-best offense was Tampa Bay, making the top five four times and averaging 6963 yards. The next two teams tied, each making the top five twice: the Browns scoring 7098 yards and then Dallas clocking in at 6787 yards. The Packers were the last team to make the top five multiple times, averaging 6716 yards. 

The bottom five offenses are a different story. The worst offense was the Detroit Lions, making the bottom five every time, averaging 5527 yards. Equally as bad were the Colts, who made the bottom five four times and averaged 5411 yards.  The also Dolphins finished in the bottom five three times averaging 5478 yards.  Also, remember the Matthew Stafford trade? Madden seems to think it won‘t work out as the Rams made the bottom five twice, along with the Giants, Jets, Vikings, and Broncos.

 

Defense

None of the top five defenses were quite as dominant as the Chiefs, but the Ravens and Patriots sure came close, making the top five four times (5461 and 5618 yards, respectively). The Eagles clocked in at 5,916 yards which was good enough to get them into the top five three times. I was surprised to see this, but I assume this was partly due to the Eagles playing in the NFC East. The next tier of defenses made it each twice: the Cardinals, Titans, and Seahawks. 

The bottom five defenses were somewhat surprising to me. The Bengals and Raiders made it to the bottom five three times which made sense, but the Giants seemed like a solid defense. The Saints, Browns, Chargers, and WFT made the bottom five twice in the next tier. The Chargers were reasonable, but the Browns improved their secondary; the Saints should still be a competent defense. WFT was the biggest surprise, as they were arguably a top-five defense last season.

 

Standings

 

AFC

 

AFC West: The K.C. Chiefs won the division at 13-4. The Chargers and Raiders tied for second at 6.6-10.4, and the Broncos were close behind 6.4-10.6.

AFC East: The Patriots averaged the next best record and won the division at 11.8-5.2. The rest of the AFC was less impressive. The Bills being 7-10 feels low, as do the Dolphins at 6.6-10.4. The Jets being 6.2-10.8 feels slightly high; I feel like 6 is the absolute ceiling.

AFC North: The Ravens ended up winning the AFC North at 11-6. The Browns took second place at 9.8-7.2, but the Steelers aren‘t far behind at 9.4-7.6. Madden didn‘t see the Bengals as out of the mix; they finish at 8-9.

AFC South: The Titans won it at 9.6-7.4, and in second place were the Jaguars at 8.6-8.4. The next closest team were the Texans, 7.2-9.8, and the Colts‘ bringing up the rear, 6.2-10.8.

 

NFC

 

NFC South: The Buccaneers had a conference-best record of 11.8-5.2, but Madden gave the Saints a solid chance of winning the division at 11-6. The Falcons showed much improvement from last season, finishing just under ten wins at 9.6-7.4. The Panthers brought up the rear at 6.6-10.4.

NFC East: Dem ’Boys went 11.2-5.8 to win the NFC East, but much like the Saints, the Eagles weren‘t all that far behind at 9.6-7.4. The Football team fell way down, going 5.8-11.2, a record only better than the 5.6-11.4 Giants.

NFC West: The 49ers lead the charge at 9.4-7.6, but at 9.2-7.8, the Cardinals are hot on their heels. The Rams averaged a 9-8 finish, with Seattle in last with a record of 8.6-8.4.

NFC North:  The Packers clinched the division at 9.2-7.8, worst for a division champ in the NFC. The next closest team was the Lions, who finished in second at 8.2-8.8. The Bears-led by rookie Justin Fields- finished in third at 7.4-9.6. The Vikings round out the bottom at 5.8-11.2.

 

Superbowl

 

Madden felt pretty strongly about who would play in the Conference Championships. The Chiefs made the AFC title game three times, going 2-1. Both times they went to the Super Bowl, they ended the season as champions against the 49ers and the Seahawks. The other AFC Super Bowl Champion was the Patriots, who made the AFC title game twice and went 2-0 but only won one Super Bowl. In the NFC, only two teams made the NFC title game twice, the 49ers and the Buccaneers. The 49ers went 1-1, advancing to the Super Bowl but ultimately losing to the Chiefs. The Buccaneers did much better; they went 2-0 in the NFC Championship game and the Super Bowl. 

This article was written by Thomas Zwiller from University of Notre Dame / The Observer and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

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