Today's the day that football fans have been waiting for. In fact, given that this day is normally a great day for pizza, wings, and snacks, it's turned into a day for more than just football fans. It's Super Bowl Sunday! Today is the day that the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks clash in Phoenix, Arizona, in a game that Vegas and analysts are saying is too close to call.
Of course, Madden NFL 15 isn't afraid to prognosticate, as an official EA simulation has already called today's game for the Patriots. The annual football franchise has the Pats triumphing by a score of 28-24. Meanwhile, anyone that watched the official Shacknews simulation (and Andrew's John Madden impression) saw that game end with the Seahawks blowing out the Pats 28-7.
Of course, this is all poppycock. What does a video game know about calling the big game anyway? Today, we analyze the last five years of Madden predictions to find out whether EA's simulations should be taken with any kind of seriousness.
Super Bowl XLIV (Madden NFL 10)
Saints 35, Colts 31
The official Madden prediction had both the Colts and the Saints coming out firing on all cylinders in the first three quarters. Going into the fourth quarter, the Colts were up 24-21 before Drew Brees led a final drive that would see David Thomas catching a game-winning 11-yard touchdown. Brees would wind up with the MVP.
The real game was indeed close, but surprisingly low-scoring in the first half. However, a video game simulation could never replicate the human element. That was never more evident than when the Saints started the second half with an onside kickoff that caught everyone, including the Colts, completely off-guard. That's because it was the first onside kick in Super Bowl history, something that Madden couldn't quite account for. Nor could it account for the Colts attempting a 51-yard field goal with Matt Stover that would wind up missing the mark.
Madden also didn't account for Peyton Manning's rough postseason history. While Manning had been money throughout this postseason, it was one bad throw to Tracy Porter that cost his team everything. Porter would return the interception 74 yards to the end zone, sealing the game for New Orleans. A last-ditch touchdown drive would ultimately fail with Manning unable to convert a 4th and goal. The Saints would triumph by a larger margin than Madden had predicted, though the game did nail the MVP prediction, as Drew Brees hoisted the trophy high in the air.
Final score: Saints 31, Colts 17
Super Bowl XLV (Madden NFL 11)
Steelers 24, Packers 20
The next year, the Madden simulation had Ben Roethlisberger leading the Steelers to victory with a final fourth quarter drive that would leave the opposing Green Bay Packers stunned. Aaron Rodgers would throw a crippling interception to Ryan Clark and the Steelers would take home the Super Bowl trophy. Steelers receiver Mike Wallace would take home MVP honors, which raised a few eyebrows, given that receivers don't commonly take that award.
Madden came awfully close, especially with the details. However, when one of those details is slightly off, the whole prediction goes down the tubes. Yes, Ben Roethlisberger did lead the Steelers from a two-score deficit. Now down 31-25, he did have a final fourth quarter drive that would look to give the Steelers the lead. Unfortunately for the Pittsburgh faithful, Big Ben was unable to convert on a 4th-and-5 pass to Mike Wallace, which would allow the Pack to run down the clock. Green Bay was victorious and Aaron Rodgers would hoist his first Super Bowl MVP trophy.
Final score: Packers 31, Steelers 25
Super Bowl XLVI (Madden NFL 12)
Giants 27, Patriots 24
This was the big Super Bowl rematch that Pats fans had been salivating for. Madden NFL 12 did not foresee revenge, though, predicting a close 27-24 win for the Giants. The game foresaw a thrilling fourth quarter that would see Tom Brady connect with Wes Welker to tie the game with 1:50 on the clock. They also saw the Pats' defense unable to hold off Eli Manning, who would set the table for Lawrence Tynes to kick the game-winner. Eli Manning would collect MVP honors.
The actual game would be just as close, despite the Pats starting with a killer intentional grounding call that led to a Giants safety and a turnover that was negated by a defensive "12 men on the field" penalty. The game would see the Giants chipping away at the Patriot lead with field goal after field goal before Brady threw a costly interception in the fourth on a contested pass to TE Rob Gronkowski. With three minutes and change left in the game, it would be Manning with the game-winning drive, connecting with Mario Manningham for an improbable sideline catch before Ahmad Bradshaw fell into the end zone butt-first for go-ahead touchdown. Brady's final minute drive would not end well, as Rob Gronkowski couldn't hold onto the end zone Hail Mary. The Giants would knock off the Patriots in the Super Bowl, once again, while Eli Manning would win his second Super Bowl MVP, a fact that still flabbergasts anyone that follows the Giants on a weekly basis today.
Final score: Giants 21, Patriots 17
Super Bowl XLVII (Madden NFL 13)
Ravens 27, Niners 24
Ah, the "Harbaugh Bowl," in which football fans were suffocated with talk about the Harbaugh brothers. Thank goodness there's nothing like that happening today. Madden didn't take the Harbaughs and their collective airtime into account when putting together the Madden NFL 13 simulation. Madden had the Ravens prevailing over the 49ers by a score of 27-24, with RB Ray Rice setting up a go-ahead Justin Tucker field goal. A Colin Kaepernick comeback would end with an Ed Reed interception, as the Ravens would go on to win and Joe Flacco would pick up his first MVP.
What Madden could never have accounted for was pure manmade disaster, with the Super Bowl undergoing a 35-minute blackout shortly after the start of the second half. It was one of the most bizarre situations ever to unfold during the big game.
The game itself was nothing remarkable, as it was all Ravens to start with an offensive assault and a Jacoby Jones 108-yard kickoff return. The birds would go up 28-6 before the Niners would start mounting their comeback. Michael Crabtree would haul in a Kaepernick touchdown and Frank Gore would run it in again minutes later to suddenly bring San Francisco within eight. Ray Rice would fumble minutes later and the Ravens would get called on a critical "running into the kicker" penalty, capping off a 21-point third quarter.
The Ravens would bend, but they wouldn't break in the fourth quarter, as they'd keep the Niners out of the end zone with two minutes to go. Though the Ravens would give up a safety with four seconds to go, Ted Ginn's free kick return would get stopped near midfield and the Ravens would prevail. While Madden nailed the result, the game couldn't have foreseen the dramatic journey.
Final score: Ravens 34, 49ers 31
Super Bowl XLVIII (Madden NFL 25)
Broncos 31, Seahawks 28
Last year, Madden NFL 25 expected a return to glory for Peyton Manning. Despite a pick six to Richard Sherman, Madden foresaw Manning finding Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker to lead the Broncos to a big lead. The Broncos were expected to hold on, despite a valiant Seattle comeback, and Manning would take home MVP honors.
Yeah... about that...
In one of the biggest Super Bowl blowouts in recent memory, the game was over before Bruno Mars even took the stage for halftime. The very first play of the game for the Broncos saw the snap sail over Peyton Manning's head, flying into the end zone. It was all downhill from there from the Broncos. The Seahawks would dominate Denver across all facets of the game, including a devastating pick six. The Seahawks would go up 22-0 going into halftime and would come out of halftime with Percy Harvin returning the kickoff all the way, adding another seven.
No simulation could have predicted this. The Seahawks obliterated the Broncos and would win the Super Bowl 43-8. Defensive lineman Malcolm Smith, the recipient of the Manning pick six, would hoist the MVP trophy.
Final score: Seahawks 43, Broncos 8
Get your popcorn ready. Let us know who you've got in the comments. Enjoy the game, everyone!