Super Bowl LIII is here. The New England Patriots once again marched through the AFC competition and will be in their fourth Super Bowl in the last five years. Over in the NFC yet another excellent contender emerged. The Los Angeles Rams won the NFC West with ease and upset the New Orleans Saints to claim their first Super Bowl appearance in 17 years.
That Super Bowl, XXXVI, was also against the Patriots. Back in February 2002 the Rams were in St. Louis and had one of the best offenses in NFL history. With the moniker of "The Greatest Show on Turf" the Rams were huge favorites going into that game and expected to pick up their second Lombardi Trophy in three years against a team that had never lifted even one and had a young 6th-round quarterback at the helm.
As we know, the Patriots upset the odds and laid the foundation for a run of dominance that is still going. Tom Brady claimed his first Super Bowl MVP and Bill Belichick devised a gameplan to shut down Marshall Faulk and control a prolific offense. The Patriots are still winning games with that formula, and the Rams are once again a hot-shot offense that is conquering at will. So who will win?
Well, Madden 19 may hold the answer. This version of Madden is one of the most accurate ever and offers terrific gameplay, but to find out who wins Super Bowl LIII we have to put the controller down and let the game play itself.
Super Bowl LIII Simulation Rules
We dived into Exhibition mode and set the Rams as the home team and Patriots as the away side. Then in the game settings we moved the Event Type to Super Bowl and went with the full 15 minute quarters. A 20 second accelerated clock stops teams from getting 200 plays each and will help keep the stats realistic. Don't forget to use our slider settings too.
To allow for one-off injuries and anomalies we are running the simulation seven times, after all if a seven-game series is good enough for MLB, NBA, and NHL finals then why not this? However we won't just be looking for wins and losses, this needs to predict the whole game so we'll keep track of point differential, turnovers, and individual stats to see just how Madden 19 thinks Super Bowl LIII will go. Before we get into the simulation, let's take a look at the key stars.
Tom Brady, Quarterback (OVR 97)
Brady is in his 9th Super Bowl. He has racked up more yards and touchdowns in post-season play than anyone else. In Madden 19 the 41-year-old quarterback is still devastatingly accurate (99 short accuracy, 97 medium accuracy) and has a strong arm (95 throw power). He can't move much, but then he never could. Brady's strength is his ability to diagnose a defense and pick out where the best place to go is before the snap, and in Madden 19 he is just as surgical (99 awareness).
Rob Gronkowski, Tight End (OVR 97)
The Patriots best weapon is their monstrous tight end Rob Gronkowski. With the size (6'6", 265 lb) and athleticism (87 acceleration, 85 strength, 82 speed) to make fools of defenses, and the skills to catch everything thrown his way (96 catching, 94 catch in traffic) he can dominate a game single-handedly. While the Patriots kept him under wraps for most of the 2018 season, in Madden 19 he still a destructive force that a defense has to account for on every play.
Stephon Gilmore, Cornerback (OVR 92)
The Patriots best defensive player is their All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore. He signed with the Patriots as a free agent in March 2017 and quickly became a vital, brilliant, piece of the Patriots roster. In Madden 19 he is one of the best corners around. He is a good athlete (94 acceleration, 91 speed) and is terrific in coverage (94 man coverage, 94 press). This makes him a vital weapon against any offense as he can lock down the best wide receivers on offer.
Aaron Donald, Defensive End (OVR 99)
The Rams defensive lineman is perhaps the best player in football today. He has the maximum 99 overall rating and a few 99 stats too (99 strength, 99 play recognition, 99 awareness). Donald is a force on nature on the Rams defensive line and can dominate any blocker in front of him (98 power moves, 94 finesse moves). He rarely misses a tackle (93 tackle, 85 hit power). He won the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year and after racking up a career-high 20.5 sacks this year he is expected to retain his crown.
Todd Gurley II, Running Back (OVR 95)
The Rams offense once again features a do-it-all running back that is a vital part of the passing game. Todd gurley is a remarkable athlete (96 agility, 92 speed) who is incredibly difficult to bring down (93 break tackle, 92 juke move, 92 elusiveness). Gurley can carry the load on the ground but is also deadly as a receiver (68 catching, 61 short route) and can exploit weaknesses in coverage, especially if left alone with a linebacker.
Jared Goff, quarterback (OVR 85)
The third-year quarterback is no Tom Brady, but when he is on form Jared Goff is extremely effective. In Madden 19 he has impressive arm talent (94 throw power, 92 short accuracy) and can move well too (86 acceleration, 78 speed). Goff has had moments of inconsistency this year. He struggled in games against Oakland and Denver early on, and was picked off 4 times by Chicago in December. In the playoffs so far he has completed just 58.8 percent of his passes, that's not enough to go toe to toe with Brady, but can he do better on Madden 19?
Which players make an impact?
Through out our simulations one thing was clear; offense rules. Both teams made plays on defense, and occasionally one team would be kept down, but for the most part both of these offenses moved the ball at will and put up points.
Both Tom Brady and Jared Goff played well. Goff was safer with the ball while Brady threw for more yards and touchdowns, but also interceptions. Here are the 7-game averages for both quarterbacks.
|Comp. %||Yards per game||TDs per game||INT per game|
|Tom Brady (NE)||63.7||346||2.5||1.3|
|Jared Goff (LAR)||66.2||278||2.0||0.7|
In game 6 of the series both quarterbacks threw 5 touchdowns, but Brady was consistently the driving force for his offense, throwing for more than 300 yards in each game while Goff topped 300 just once (a 442 yard game that shifts his average substantially).
For the Rams it was all about Todd Gurley's rushing ability. The star back scored 9 touchdowns on the ground across the 7 games and had 4 100+ yard performances, including a 231-yard day in game 5. Conversely the Patriots could never get Sony Michel going. Their ability to grind down defenses with Michel has been vital this season, but in Madden 19 they couldn't get through Donald and Ndamukong Suh. Michel averaged just 45 yards per game and scored only 2 touchdowns.
Brady was able to keep the offense moving thanks in part to terrific performances from his top 2 receivers, Julian Edelman & Rob Gronkowski. Edelman had 5 100-yard games and scored 8 times while Gronk averaged 7 catches a game.
|Catches per game||Yards per game||Total TD's|
|Julian Edelman (NE)||7||105||8|
|Rob Gronkowski (NE)||7||74||4|
|Robert Woods (LAR)||6||102||8|
|Brandin Cooks (LAR)||3||41||0|
As you can see, the Rams main threat was Robert Woods. Brandin Cooks, brought in via trade from New England for the 2018 season, was dominated throughout this series by Stephon Gilmore and made no impact whatsoever. Woods had two huge games of 179 and 170 yards, while Edelman and Gronkowski were consistent producers.
Defensively, Aaron Donald was sporadic. He made 11 tackles in one game but only had 4 sacks in the series, instead the main pass rush was provided by Samson Ebukam who had 7.5 sacks. Both Aqib Talib and Jason McCourty had three interceptions over the series, while Dont'a Hightower was the main tackler for the Patriots throughout the games.
Who Will Win Super Bowl LIII?
So after 7 games, who lifted the Lombardi Trophy? Who will win Super Bowl LIII? Madden 19's answer is the Los Angeles Rams.
They took the series 4-3 and finished with more points than the Patriots over the course of the games. They were far and away the more consistent side and took better care of the football while forcing turnovers from the Patriots with regularity. They were only behind in turnovers in one game, and got more pressure on the opposing QB too.
|Los Angeles Rams||New England Patriots|
|Points||206 (29.4)||173 (24.7)|
|Yards||2,824 (403)||2,923 (418)|
|3rd Down Conversions||39 of 81 (48.1%)||56 of 98 (57.1%)|
|4th Down Conversions||2 of 6 (33.3%)||2 of 7 (28.6%)|
|2-point Conversions||1 of 1 (100%)||2 of 2 (100%)|
|Penalties||27 for 222 yards||23 for 166 yards|
|Average Time Of Possession||28:55||31:05|
So there you have it. The Los Angeles Rams are going to gain revenge for Super Bowl XXXVI and beat the Patriots this Sunday. The Rams average margin of victory in their 4 wins was a solid 15 points, while the Patriots was just 9. Despite gaining more yards, converting more 3rd downs and giving up fewer penalties, the Patriots could not contain the potent Rams offense or control LA's superior defensive talent. The Rams franchise will lift their second Lombardi Trophy and Sean McVay will become the youngest head coach to ever win a Super Bowl.