Ten Ways the Madden Simulation of the NFC Championship Was Freakishly Accurate

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Ten Ways the Madden Simulation of the NFC Championship Was Freakishly Accurate

We took the time to use Madden 09 to simulate the NFC Championship Game that was played on Sunday between the Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles. 

We did this before the game and posted a highlight reel of some of the simulated game's best plays and photo slideshow here at Bleacher Report

We had no idea that our simulation would be so accurate, getting the Cardinals' final score right and only being off by 4 on the Eagles' final point tally.  After further review, here are the top 10 things our Madden simulation got freakishly right:

10.  Team Tackle Leaders
Linebackers Stewart Bradley (PHI) and Karlos Dansby (ARI) both were predicted to lead their teams in tackles, and both did in the real game.

9.  Arizona 3rd and 4th down Efficiency
On Sunday the Cardinals went 5-12 on 3rd down attempts, just one shy of 50 percent.  Then on 4th down the Cardinals converted on the one attempt that they took.  In the simulation game Arizona converted exactly 50 percent of their 3rd down tries and also went 1 for 1 on 4th down too.  Madden did a great job of predicting the performance of the Kurt Warner lead offense on the later downs.

8.  Brent Celek Finds Paydirt
Philadelphia tight end Brent Celek did not score a touchdown in any of the first 16 weeks of the regular season.  He did score in the last game and in the divisional game against the Giants, but he certainly is no lock to score a touchdown.  The simulation pegged him for a touchdown reception from Donovan McNabb and sure enough the same thing happened in the "real" game... twice.

7.  Eagles Botch 2-Pt Conversion Attempt
Our simulation had Brian Westbrook getting stuffed at the goaline on a 2-pt conversion attempt.  On Sunday the Eagles failed to get 2 points after a thrown McNabb TD.  It was not the same as in our simulation in the way it happened, but the result was dead on.  With a play as rare as a 2-pt conversion in the NFL, this is a pretty good prediction by Mr. Madden's game.

6.  Anquan Boldin Played... Somewhat
Anquan Boldin was injured during the first playoff game, missed the Carolina game, and was questionable for the game against the Eagles.  We went ahead and gave him the green light in our simulation and the Cardinals did as well.  In both games Boldin had lower than usual numbers.  In the simulation he racked up 58 yards on 6 catches and in real life he caught 4 balls for 34 yards.  Adding both games together is less than 100 yards, a plateau he had not reached since week 11 when he totaled 186 yards against the Seahawks.  This particle item would have been higher if we had concrete evidence that the simulation picked up Boldin arguing with his coaching staff and pouting after the game.

5.  Low Rushing Yardage Expected
One thing about playing sports video games is the ability to really twist and distort the statistics.  Racking up 500 yards of rushing with your favorite player in a single game is not completely out of the question.  In our simulation, Madden was not willing to give that treatment to either top-name running back Edgerrin James or Brian Westbrook.  Philadelphia rushed for 137 yards in our simulation and only 97 in the live game.  Arizona ran for 126 yards and 102 yards respectively.  The simulated game went into overtime, but the combined difference in rushing yards for both teams was 64 yards between the real and simulated game.
 
4.  DeSean Jackson Catches the Long Touchdown
DeSean Jackson is a rookie wide receiver that only caught 2 touchdowns the entire season and none in the three playoff games, going undrafted in most fantasy leagues.  Our simulation had him catching a touchdown pass, something he had not done in 6 weeks.  To be more specific he was to catch a deep ball from Donovan McNabb for 62 yards on the way to the endzone.  In the real game Jackson not only scored a touchdown, but it was a 59 yard score from McNabb.  If you had money on a long touchdown for Jackson, you are likely reading this from your newly purchased private jet.

3.  Philly Offense
Some of the similarities between the real and simulated game are strikingly similar when it comes to looking at the Philadelphia Eagles offense statistics.

Simulation:

  • Time of Possession: 30:44
  • Total Yards: 460
  • First Downs: 21


Real Game:

  • Time of Possession: 30:04 (-00:40)
  • Total Yards: 454 (-6)
  • First Downs: 22 (+1)

The simulation got the time of possession to within a minute, the total amount of offense to 6 yards, and total first downs was just 1 off.  Maybe the play of their quarterback was the key?

2.  Fake Donovan McNabb is the Same as Real Donovan McNabb
Maybe you can chalk this one up to the "Madden Curse" that we talked about before?  It appears that Madden knows the bearer of Chunky Soup as well as anyone.

Simulation:

  • QB Rating: 96.3
  • Passing Yards: 358
  • TD's: 2
  • INT's: 1
  • Completions: 30/45 66%
  • AVG: 7.9-yds
  • Long: 59-yds

Real Game:

  • QB Rating: 97.4 (+1.1)
  • Passing Yards: 375 (+17)
  • TD's: 3 (+1)
  • INT's: 1 (=)
  • Completions: 28/47 59.6% (-6.4%)
  • AVG: 8.0-yds (+.1)
  • Long: 62-yds (+3)

There have been rumors throughout the year that McNabb is ending his time with the Eagles sooner rather than later.  This has been a record season for him even with the benching.  I must say that anyone with common sense can see what you get McNabb and if you do not believe any of us, just simulate some games with Madden. 

1.  The Final Score
First off our simulation picked the winner, if all of the stats were garbage, our simulation got the one important part right.  Taking it to the next level though as Madden likes to do (BOOM), our simulation nailed the final score of the winning team exactly.  The Arizona Cardinals scored 32 points in both games on their way to the Super Bowl in Tampa.  Our simulated Philadelphia Eagles failed to force the game into overtime, but they did come within 4 points of their real-life counterparts, actually outscoring them 29 to 25.  This could be one of the closest simulations that I have ever seen.  This proves that Playboy Cyber Girl of the Year Jo Garcia was not lying when she told us how realistic the game was going to be.

Dare we do the same thing for the Super Bowl?

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