For the fifth 12 months in a row, Yahoo Sports is simulating a whole NFL season in “Madden.” While there have been some dubious results previously — Nick Foles leading the Bears to the Super Bowl and Urban Meyer winning coach of the 12 months — this practice has produced an accurate champion way back in 2019.
This time around, things only barely go astray, so let’s jump right in.
Division winners: Jets, Browns*, Colts, Chiefs, Cowboys, Packers, Bucs, Cardinals
Apparently Zach Wilson does have that dog in him, because the Jets by some means managed to complete 11-6 and win the AFC East for the primary time since 2002, when Wilson was 3 years old. The second-year pro, whose current status for Week 1 is in query resulting from injury, had arguably the worst 12 months of all the opposite 2021 first-round QBs (more on this later), but racked up 3,183 yards and 28 touchdowns while limiting his interceptions to simply 4 on the season.
Outside of that, the remainder of the division winners seem entirely within the realm of possibility. Indianapolis was by far the league’s most dominant team, going 16-1, followed by Kansas City (13-4) and Dallas (12-5).
Note: Because of constraints, we were unable to simulate the 11-game suspension for Deshaun Watson.
Wild card teams: Titans, Ravens, Bills, Saints, Panthers, Eagles
Nothing too surprising to report with the simulation’s wild card teams, all of whom finished either 11-6 or 10-7. Essentially the most notable takeaway is the NFC South being essentially the most competitive division within the league, landing three playoff teams and the Falcons, who just missed out, ending at 8-9.
Super Bowl hangover
While no one can be stunned to see the Bengals regress just a little bit (they finished 8-9 within the sim and missed the postseason), “Madden” flat out doesn’t just like the Rams. Last 12 months’s prediction had the Rams ending 4-13 and Matthew Stafford having the worst 12 months of his profession. This 12 months, things were just a little bit higher, but Los Angeles still missed the playoffs going 9-8.
One other huge surprise in Los Angeles
The Rams shouldn’t feel too slighted though, since “Madden” sims might just have a bias against the City of Angels. The Chargers, a team many have pegged as a dark horse Super Bowl contender, finished 4-13, tied for the franchise’s fewest wins since 2015.
Award winners, including Dak Prescott earning MVP
Prescott had arguably the best regular season of any quarterback in NFL history within the sim, ending with 5,649 yards, 57 touchdowns and completing 72% of his passes. Despite Prescott setting single-season records for each yards and touchdowns, Dallas would still fall short in January, losing within the NFC Championship game to the Latest Orleans Saints.
While the Falcons missed the playoffs, if things play out like “Madden” predicts, Atlanta hit two home runs early within the 2022 NFL draft. Drake London, a large receiver out of USC, finished the season with 1,305 yards and 11 touchdowns, earning him the highest offensive rookie award over Steelers wideout George Pickens. Arnold Ebiketie, meanwhile, the thirty eighth overall select of Penn State, edged out Sauce Gardner to win Defensive Rookie of the Yr honors, collecting 8.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss. Capping all of it off, while he didn’t win any hardware, Falcons third-round QB Desmond Ridder threw for five,024 yards and 36 touchdowns with a 67% completion rate.
So far as the remainder of the awards go, Rams receiver Cooper Kupp won Offensive Player of the Yr after setting the single-season record for receiving yards with 2,114 (600 yards greater than the simulation’s second-highest receiver, Robert Woods); Raiders pass rusher Maxx Crosby broke Michael Strahan and T.J. Watt’s sack record with 24.5 to win Defensive Player of the Yr; and Frank Reich’s Colts led the league in wins, earning him the Coach of the Yr.
The Indianapolis Colts had a whopper of a daily season when Yahoo Sports simulated the 2022 campaign on “Madden NFL 23.” (Photo credit: EA Sports)
While Wilson was the one second-year QB to steer his team to the playoffs, the opposite 4 passers taken in the primary round of the 2021 NFL draft managed to have solid campaigns. Here’s what their stat lines looked like.
Trevor Lawrence — 4,612 yards, 43 TDs, 66% completion percentage
Trey Lance — 3,778 yards, 28 TDs, 60% completion percentage
Justin Fields — 4,108 yards, 30 TDs, 63% completion percentage
Mac Jones — 4,820 yards, 29 TDs, 70% completion percentage
Of the 4, Fields was the just one who led his team to a winning record, because the Bears finished 9-8 within the NFC North. Latest England finished 8-9, Jacksonville 7-10, San Francisco 5-12.
Odd end to Panthers QB battle
Now that he’s officially been named the starter in Carolina, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for Baker Mayfield to have a powerful season and lead the Panthers to the playoffs. Within the simulation, Mayfield finished with 3,955 yards and 31 touchdowns, which might each be profession highs for the previous No. 1 overall pick. The bizarre thing that happened was that the Steelers traded for Sam Darnold, despite drafting Kenny Pickett in the primary round of the 2022 draft. Darnold finished with 4,410 yards, 27 touchdowns and 21 interceptions for Pittsburgh, which didn’t make the postseason.
Tough Tua decision
In what appears to be a make-or-break 12 months for the Dolphins and Tagovailoa, the “Madden” simulation appears to depart things as murky after the season as they currently are. Miami finished last within the AFC East at 6-11, and Tagovailoa threw for 3,944 yards, 21 touchdowns and accomplished 61% of his passes. While the yardage and touchdown totals can be the best of his profession, the offense appears mired in mediocrity with him under center. If the actual season plays out like this, prepare for Miami to should make a difficult call next spring.
Old faces, recent places
Davante Adams, Matt Ryan and Carson Wentz were three of the larger name players to alter teams this offseason. Ryan had by far essentially the most success of the three, each individually and from a team perspective. The previous NFL MVP threw for 4,492 yards and 41 touchdowns with a 69% completion rate, leading the Colts to the league’s best record. Ryan wouldn’t get a likelihood to erase the 28-3 cloud that hangs over his head nevertheless, as Indianapolis lost to Kansas City within the AFC Championship game.
“Madden” expects Davante Adams to have a solid campaign in his first season as a Raider. (Photo credit: EA Sports)
Here’s how Wentz and Adams finished their seasons:
Wentz — 4,324 yards, 31 touchdowns 63% completion percentage
Adams — 105 receptions, 1,513 yards, 9 touchdowns
So, who won the Super Bowl?
While the Colts and Cowboys finished with the most effective records within the AFC and NFC, respectively, it was Latest Orleans and Kansas City who played in Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Arizona. When all was said and done, the Saints defeated the Chiefs, 34-14 to win the franchise’s second Super Bowl title. In a moment that brings all the things perfectly full circle, Tyrann Mathieu was named Super Bowl MVP against his former team, within the stadium where the team that drafted him, the Cardinals, plays.
This was the fourth 12 months in a row “Madden” placed the Chiefs within the Super Bowl.
Notable retirements, including Tom Brady
Here’s the list, in alphabetical order: Tom Brady, Joe Flacco, A.J. Green, DeSean Jackson, Julio Jones, Jason Kelce, Devin McCourty, Matt Ryan, Emmanuel Sanders, Harrison Smith, Ndamukong Suh, Trent Williams.
It seems surprising that weeks after being eliminated within the AFC championship game and coming off a 16-1 season that Matt Ryan would retire, but “Madden” seems to think that he and the opposite half of one of the crucial prolific QB-WR pairings in NFL history in Julio Jones will call it quits.
Few other names jumped out from the general retirement list. So far as Brady goes, we’ll all imagine it when it actually happens for greater than a number of weeks.