Feature

Johnny Football Finds Success In Madden 15 Sim Of NFL Season

by Matthew Kato on Sep 03, 2014 at 12:17 PM

Anything can happen in an NFL season, and in this one – simulated using Madden NFL 15 – it does. Injuries, meltdowns, and Johnny Football all play a part in making this simulated season one to remember.

Madden sim stats can be unreliable, but in the spirit of the upcoming NFL season we've simmed through a single season in Madden's Connected Franchise mode. This was done on All-Pro difficulty using six-minute quarters and default sliders.

I also used EA's current roster at the time, but had to make a few adjustments, including Logan Mankins' trade to the Bucs and Sam Bradford's injury. Still, Madden's sim engine automatically jumbled a few team's depth charts – noticeably at the QB spot. Blake Bortles (Jaguars), Matt Schaub (Raiders), and Mike Glennon (Bucs) all took over their teams' starting spots by the beginning of the regular season.

And then there was Johnny Football. Perhaps sensing popular sentiment (or destiny?), Brian Hoyer suffered a broken thumb in the pre-season, paving the way for Johnny Manziel to change the complexion of the AFC playoff race.

Have a laugh, post your comments below, and enjoy the season.

Through Week 8

AFC North

    Browns    4    2    1

    Ravens    4    3    1

    Steelers 4    4

    Bengals    2    5

AFC South

    Colts 5    3

    Texans 4    4   

    Titans        3    5

    Jaguars    1    6    1

AFC East

    Jets        5    3

    Patriots    5    3

    Dolphins 4    3

    Bills 2    6

AFC West

    Chargers    5    3

    Chiefs 4    3

    Broncos    2    5   

    Raiders 2    5

NFC North

    Lions 6    2

    Packers 5    3

    Bears 3    5

    Vikings 2    6

NFC South

    Panthers 6    2

    Saints 5    2

    Bucs 4    3

    Falcons 3    4    1

NFC East

    Eagles 4    3

    Washington 4    3    1

    Cowboys 3    5

    Giants 1    6

NFC West

    49ers 7    0

    Seahawks 5    1    1

    Cardinals 3    4

    Rams 1    6

The big story by the mid-season mark of the sim is injuries:

  • QBs Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers), Andy Dalton (Bengals), EJ Manuel (Bills), Geno Smith (Jets), and Cam Newton (Panthers) are all injured by week nine and miss games, with Roethlisberger on IR and Newton out with a partial PCL tear.

  • Other notable injuries include Cowboys' DeMarco Murray (ruptured disc), Patriots' Jerod Mayo (torn tricep), and 49ers' Anquan Boldin (torn rotator cuff).

  • It wouldn't be an NFL season without Seahawks' receiver Percy Harvin missing games. This time it's three weeks with an ankle injury.

Notables:

  • Bruce Gradkowski steps in for the injured Ben Roethlisberger and actually performs better than Big Ben. Gradkowski posts an 89.3 passer rating over four starts compared to Ben's 76.6 mark.

  • The Ravens, Rams, Raiders, Jets, and Cowboys all flirt with a QB controversy by having their backup QBs take the reins for a few games.

Keep reading to see how the regular season ends.

The End of the Regular Season

AFC North

    Y- Browns 9    6    1

    X- Steelers 9    6    1   

    Ravens 5    10    1   

    Bengals 4    12   

AFC South

    Y- Colts 11    5       

    Texans 9    7   

    Titans 9    7

    Jaguars 6    9    1

AFC East

    Z- Patriots 11    5       

    X- Jets 10    5    1

    Dolphins 8    8

    Bills 5    11

AFC West

    Y- Chargers 10    6   

    Chiefs 9    7

    Broncos 8    8

    Raiders 2    14

NFC North

    Y- Bears 11    5

    Packers 10    6       

    Lions 9    7

    Vikings 2    14   

NFC South

    Y- Saints 11    5   

    Bucs 10    6

    Panthers 7    9   

    Falcons 5    10    1

NFC East

    Y- Eagles 9    7       

    Washington 8    7    1

    Cowboys 5    11

    Giants 3    13

NFC West

    Z- Cardinals 12    4   

    X- 49ers 12    4

    X- Seahawks  11    4    1

    Rams 2    14

Meltdowns & Miracles:

  • The Panthers win only one game in the second half of the season, turning a promising 6-2 start into a 7-9 disaster. The Cardinals, on the other hand, rip off nine straight wins to claim the division and the conference.
  • Injuries to both the Packers and the Lions knock them out of the race for the NFC North title and the wild card. The Bears, meanwhile, go on a nine-game win streak, during which time they score crucial divisional victories over the Lions (twice) and the Packers. Green Bay cannot muster a late-season playoff push, as QB Aaron Rodgers misses two games at the end of the season with a pulled groin.
  • Running backs Adrian Peterson (Vikings) and Zac Stacy (Rams) have disappointing years, with neither reaching 1,000 yards rushing (900 and 867, respectively). It's not surprising given that both teams have dismal QB situations that allow defenses to focus on stopping the run.
  • Colin Kaepernick is the league MVP, with a QB rating of 96.2, 3,256 passing yards, 66-percent completion rating, 23 TDs, and 11 INTs.
  • Fresh off his big contract, Bengals QB Andy Dalton not only gets hurt, but his backup, Jason Campbell, actually does well in Dalton's stead. Campbell posts a 91.7 QB rating, 1,640 passing yards, a 61-percent completion percentage, 9 TDs and only 2 INTs.
  • Eagles QB Nick Foles comes back down to earth from a breakout year in 2013, with 16 TDs and 10 INTs.
  • Despite the hype, the Broncos have an up-and-down season. They can't exhibit dominance in their division, and a 2-6 start doesn't help.

Rookie Watch:

  • Johnny Football does relatively well in his debut season, leading the Browns to their first playoff appearance since 2002. Manziel has a QB rating of 76.1, throws for 3,027 yards, has both 19 TDs and 19 INTs, with a completion percentage of 61 percent. Despite concerns about his frame and penchant for running, he plays all season and stays in the pocket. Manziel runs for only 179 yards.
  • Despite Matt Cassel's abysmal performance (6 TDs to 24 INTs), the Vikings are content to let rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater sit on the bench and learn from Cassel's many mistakes.
  • Blake Bortles, meanwhile, turns in arguably the best performance of all the rookie QBs. While the Jaguars are still the loss-happy Jaguars, Bortles posts an 81 QB rating, completes 63 percent of his passes, and throws for 2,696 yards while tossing 13 TDs and 8 INTs.
  • Bills fourth-overall draft pick Sammy Watkins never gets his rookie campaign going, as a fractured arm robs him of the first half of his season.
  • Injuries also sideline Packers' corner Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, but he still grabs 4 INTs over 10 games.
  • The first overall selection by the Texans, Jadeveon Clowney, shows the NFL what he's got with a dozen sacks. However, the Texans defensive line suffers as superstar J.J. Watt misses a handful of games and only gets four sacks.

Can Johnny Football lead the Browns to playoff paydirt?

Wild Card

Steelers at Chargers 22-20

Shaun Suisham kicks five FGs to put the Steelers through in an otherwise boring game.

Seahawks at Saints 27-17

The Legion of Boom holds Saints QB Drew Brees to 91 passing yards, and the vaunted Saints offense never gets going.

Jets at Browns 23-10

Johnny Football shrinks in the big game, throwing two INTs. Jets QB Geno Smith, meanwhile, keeps his cool and avoids any big mistakes.

49ers at Eagles 20-17

Niners score 13 unanswered points in the fourth quarter after the Eagles led 17-7 at halftime. Niners running backs Carlos Hyde and Marcus Lattimore combine for 88 yards and two TDs.

Divisional Round

Steelers at Patriots 9-20

Steelers backup QB Bruce Gradkowski is out with a pulled groin, giving third-string QB Landry Jones the start. He throws for 200 yards, but the Steelers can't find the end zone.

Seahawks at Cardinals 22-10

Despite a very good regular season, Cards QB Carson Palmer is stymied by the Seahawks defense.

Jets at Colts 14-10

Andrew Luck throws a crucial pick and Geno Smith turns in another mistake-free performance, propelling the Jets into the conference round.

49ers at Bears 25-28

The Bears score 25 points in the fourth quarter, with two TDs by running back Matt Forte, to stun the 49ers.

Conference Championships

Jets at Patriots 6-25

QBs Tom Brady and Geno Smith both put in low-key days, but penalties keep the Jets from establishing a foothold. Up 23 points at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Pats control the clock and pound the Jets' defense with Stevan Ridley. Jets' RB Chris Johnson, meanwhile, is on the sideline with a shoulder injury.

Seahawks at Bears 21-0

Marshawn Lynch goes into Beast Mode, gaining 177 yards on the ground, with fellow Seahawks' back Christine Michael notching another 65 yards. Bears QB Jay Cutler misfires all afternoon, completing only 44 percent of his passes, throwing two INTs, and offering one big pout. 

Super Bowl XLIX

Seahawks at Patriots 24-16

The Seahawks post back-to-back Super Bowl wins thanks to an efficient 77-percent completion rating performance of Russell Wilson. Pats QB Brady, on the other hand, throws two picks; sealing a game that was actually within reach thanks to two Marshawn Lynch fumbles. Lynch is held relatively in check, with only 79 yards, but Wilson comes up big on third downs to keep drives alive. 

For more on Madden NFL 15, check out my review as well as a helpful QB tutorial.