The Playoffs are upon us! The regular season has wrapped up and now only 4 weeks of football stand between us and the Super Bowl so let’s put Madden NFL 17 to the test and continue what we started in the regular season and use it to predict every playoff game.
During the regular season, from Week 5 onwards, Madden has a record of 106-73 for a win percentage of 0.592, which isn’t too bad. Now, with a clean state heading into the playoffs, can the game go undefeated and correctly predict the 2016/2017 NFL Playoffs?
Oakland Raiders @ Houston Texans
The first playoff game of the 2016 season is possibly the least attractive matchup of the entire playoffs, with the Texans starting Brock Osweiler and the Raiders being forced to start 3rd string QB Connor Cook. But who will be able to get out of their own team’s way the most and win this game for these two playoff win hungry franchises?
The game got off to a pretty slow start. The first quarter had very little action with the two teams failing to get past the opposing teams 45-yard line. The teams traded punts as the two defenses looked to be in control of the game early on.
The second quarter was a little more prolific, at least in terms of offense. Amari Cooper took a 7 yard pass an extra 55 yards to the endzone for the Raiders and the Texans managed to kick a pair of field goals, leaving the score at 7-6 at half time and Connor Cook with the upper hand.
The Raiders got the ball to start the second half and they cashed in with a Sebastian Janikowski field goal but that was the only success they had in the quarter. The Texans, on the other hand, started to find some room in the running game as they amassed 64 rushing yards in the 3rd quarter alone as they pounded their way to two touchdowns.
The 4th quarter, unfortunately for the Raiders, saw their season come to an end. With the Texans leading 20-10 going into the 4th quarter the Raiders had to rely on Cook, who couldn’t come through as he threw two interceptions and the Texans added two insurance field goals to seal the Texans first playoff win since 2012.
Texans 26 – Raiders 10
Detroit Lions @ Seattle Seahawks
Unlike the first game of Wild Card Saturday, this game pits two star QB’s against one another. Can Russell Wilson add to his impressive collection of playoff wins or will Matt Stafford guide the Lions to their first playoff win since the 1991 NFC Divisional Playoffs?
Again, unlike the first game of the day this game got off to a much more explosive start. On the 3rd play of the game, a 3rd and 4 for the Lions offense, Matt Stafford found Marvin Jones down the sideline for a 69-yard touchdown. The Seahawks matched the Lions score with a touchdown of their own on their first possession and then each team added a field goal to close out the first quarter.
The second quarter followed a similar script, with each team finding relative joy on offense, finding the endzone once each. The Lions, however, had a field goal blocked which led to the Seahawks second field goal of the quarter, giving the Seahawks a 23-17 halftime lead.
The second half slowed right down, with the Seahawks trying to ground and pound on offense to chew clock and the Lions struggling to convert 3rd downs. Both teams added a field goal to keep it as a one score game heading into the final quarter.
In that quarter, the Seahawks ran away with it. The Lions offense seemed to regress even more as Matt Stafford found himself under pressure on almost every pass, getting sacked 3 times in the 4th quarter alone, twice by Bennett and once by Avril. The Seahawks offense, however, just wore out the Lions front seven, as they ran the ball well and took 6 minutes off the clock and scored the game sealing touchdown.
Seahawks 33 – Lions 20
Miami Dolphins @ Pittsburgh Steelers
The first game of Wild Card Sunday is a rematch of a Week 6 matchup that Madden correctly predicted the Dolphins to win, so can they pull it off again in the Steel City?
The first quarter was pretty lopsided. The Steelers defense manhandled the Dolphins offense, forcing a turnover, sacking Matt Moore two times and not allowing a single point. The Steelers on the other hand scored 2 touchdowns, courtesy of their two stars Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown.
The second quarter slowed down a little and evened out a little too. The Dolphins found the endzone thanks to DeVante Parker and kicked a field goal as their offense found their form. The Steelers looked to be adding to their lead but a redzone interception by Kiko Alonso took all of the Steelers momentum heading into halftime.
The third quarter was the first totally even quarter. Each team scored a field goal as the defenses stepped up their game, forcing quick series and even getting a turnover each as the offenses looked lethargic and out of ideas, setting up what turned out to be a roller coaster 4th quarter.
With the score at 17-13 Steelers, the Dolphins finally went ahead for the first time in the game after Jay Ajayi broke free for a long touchdown run. However, that lead didn’t last long as the Steelers struck back just 5 plays later. Each team scored a touchdown on the next few drives to leave the Dolphins down 31-27 with just 1:50 left and the ball in their hands. The comeback attempt fell just short though as Mike Mitchell came up with the game sealing interception.
Steelers 31 – Dolphins 27
New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers
The final game of Wild Card Weekend is shaping up to be a cracker as we get treated to our third rematch from the regular season. Can the Giants reverse the regular season result to make it 3 out of 3?
Going by the 1st quarter? Yes they can. The Giants moved the ball well on their first drive, with Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard each catching 3 passes for 30+ yards as the Giants found the endzone with a Rashad Jennings run. The Packers had a little trouble offensively, as Landon Collins intercepted Aaron Rodgers on their first possession and they had to punt on their other two.
Though the 2nd quarter didn’t produce the same number of points, the balance of play didn’t really change. The Giants had a reasonable amount of success on offense and they were once again stingy on defense, allowing just one Packers drive to turn into points, and that was a 47 yard Mason Crosby field goal, which left the score at 17-3 heading into the half.
Surprisingly, the third quarter was much of the same. The Giants offense added another touchdown and field goal and, despite conceding their first touchdown of the game, an Aaron Rodgers 22 yard pass to Davante Adams, remained fully in control of this game.
Heading into the final quarter with Packers down 27-10 and out of ideas, Rodgers let it loose. The Packers barely ran the ball as Rodgers took the game into his own hands and he did a pretty good job of pulling the Packers back into the game. In fact, they scored two touchdowns before the 5-minute mark of the 4th quarter. However, the Giants answered the first Packers score with a touchdown of their own and then sealed the game with a field goal with just over 1 minute left to advance to the Divisional Round of the Playoffs.
Giants 37 – Packers 24
Following these results, Madden predicts that the Houston Texans will face a trip to Foxboro to take on the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers will face a trip to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the Kansas City Chiefs.
Meanwhile, in the NFC, the Seahawks will travel to the Georgia Dome to face the red hot Falcons offense and the Giants will face off with their bitter rivals the Dallas Cowboys for the 3rd time this season.