Madden NFL 17: Tips to Win when Playing Online

The NFL Season may be over but that doesn’t mean that Madden Season is over too. Madden Season is still going strong and will be for the foreseeable future. Of course there are a lot of people who are going to be new to this game in that time, there are also a lot of people who will be looking for any way to improve their game, so here are some tips on how to improve your gameplay when you’re playing online.

Before you start

First things first, before you play against other people, you should take a look at all of the tutorials that are focussed on specific offensive and defensive plays. These will help increase your understanding of when to use different passing concepts or blitzes. If you’re new to Madden, or football, then I definitely recommend you do the tutorials as they are very useful and will teach you a lot.

You should also play a bit offline before you dive right into online play for several reasons. The first reason being that you are limited to using one team’s offensive playbook and defensive playbook. There are 32 teams, each with unique playbooks, and there are a number of scheme specific playbooks available. Before you play online you should experiment with lots of different teams’ playbooks to find the one that has plays that work for you. Do you want to run read option plays with your QB? Then have a look at the Panthers, Seahawks or Titans playbook, for example. Do you want to run a lot of zone blitzes? Then look at the Steelers or Jets playbook, for example.

While you’re experimenting with playbooks, you should use this opportunity to play with as many different teams as possible. This will give you the chance to use lots of different players, which will help you when it comes to playing Ultimate Team or choosing a team to use in Online Head to Head games.

By playing a lot offline you’ll also get used to what you’re good at, and this is important for when you play online. If you’re good at passing the ball then focus on that when you play online. Instead of scrambling to be balanced just do what you know you can do, as there are plenty of players who are capable of jumping out to very early leads if you don’t start fast yourself.


When you play online, no matter the game mode, the games are not very long and are usually pretty low scoring. As a result, it is very important to make the most of all of your offensive possessions as the one time you have to punt or you turned the ball over could be the difference in a low scoring game. As that is the case you have to find your best way of moving the ball down the field and putting points on the board so you have to avoid turnovers.

To avoid turnovers you’ll need to target players, particularly running backs, with good Carrying ratings. The higher the rating the less the player should fumble. If you like to run with your quarterback, unless you’re using Cam Newton, most of the quarterbacks have fairly poor carrying ratings/fumble a lot, so utilise the slide or get out of bounds when you can. To slide you need to hold both triggers and press X (Xbox One) or Square (PS4).

You also need to learn when to throw the ball away as a QB and that it is not a bad thing if you do. If all of your receivers are covered don’t try to force it unless you absolutely have to. To throw the ball away you need to press the Right Stick on your controller.

Another key is to have at least 3 or 4 ‘money’ plays or ‘go-to’ plays for when you have to get a first down or have to get a touchdown. Certain play work for some players and others don’t so you need to find what you like to run and always have it ready to go. However, you have to be careful to not overuse it and to disguise it as much as you can as a lot of online players can be quick to recognise what you’re doing and adjust to it.

The best way to stop the other player from knowing what you’re doing is running a variety of plays from similar formations. If you’re go to play is Four Verticals from Spread formation, for example, make sure that you can run at least all of the audible  from that formation as this will keep the other player on their toes.

To further that previous point; don’t always pass to the same receiver, regardless of the play you’re running. Unless they are legitimately open don’t always look to that player as the other player with adjust and focus on that target. If you have a money play, try and spread the ball to all of the receivers on that play as it will stop the opposition from taking away your favourite/only option.

You want to have multiple ‘money’ plays for the same reason, if you always run the same ‘money’ play in a certain situation the opposition will learn how to stop it.

The same goes for running plays. Don’t always run the same running play as it is pretty easy to stop a running play if you know exactly where the ball carrier is trying to go.

The final tip I have for offense is when you call a running play, once the handoff to the ball carrier is done, don’t immediately hold the sprint button. This is because you will often find yourself running into your blockers or not being able to change direction quick enough to cut back or cut up field. If you wait to sprint until you have found a hole and are running through it you will find that you get more yards more often. It will also give you a nice acceleration boost that may catch the opposition off guard, springing you for a long run.


Playing good defense is in my mind the key to being a dominant player online, no matter the game mode. And there are a few things that can really help you get to that level. The first thing you should do is learn how to user-control a player who isn’t on the defensive line and there are several reasons why.

The first being that if you control your defense end, for example, the rest of the defense, meaning everyone who is in coverage, is being controlled by the CPU, which means it is no different for the offense than if they were playing the CPU. This makes it easier to pick apart your defense when passing it and they can run it away from you with relative ease.

The second is that by controlling someone who is in coverage you can actively take away one or more options for the offense, and the best way to do this is by using someone who plays as centrally as possible. Depending on the coverage (I almost exclusively play zone coverage) I tend to use the MLB or OLB as they will often be responsible for a zone in the middle of the field, for example a Hook Curl Zone.

cover 3 zone
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By controlling these players I can easily take away the middle of the field. If they pass, if you recognise the play the opposition is running, you can trick them into a throw and then capitalise with an interception or pass break up, whereas if you’re controlling someone away from the middle of the field you are out of a lot of plays as you’re only responsible for a small area.

Thirdly you can have more of an impact on the running game if you control a MLB or OLB as you can take control of which gap you defend and you can better adjust to the running backs cuts and changes of direction.

Outside of who you should try to control, you should try and get in the habit of not always selecting the ‘Play Ball’ function when the opposition throws the ball. There is nothing more annoying than your player going for the ball when the opposition runs in front of you and gets to the ball first. You should learn when to use the ‘Swat’ and ‘Play Receiver’ when appropriate, they will save you a lot of frustration and stop a lot of big plays.

My final tip is to no always go for the hit stick, however tempting it is. Yes, hit stick tackles are the most satisfying and have the best chance of causing fumbles, but they can be unreliable and also lead to a lot of missed tackles. The conservative tackle or ‘A’ tackle can be a game saver and is my go to when making the tackle is the most important thing for me to do. If it is a key third down or a fourth down and you have to get the stop, go for the conservative tackle. It gives you the best chance to stop the ball carrier right where they are.

Did you find these tips helpful, or do you have any that are more successful? Let us know in the comments below!


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