Madden 13 Player Ratings: Team-by-Team Updates & Analysis

Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIAugust 24, 2012

Madden 13 Player Ratings: Team-by-Team Updates & Analysis

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    Are you ready for some virtual football?!?!

    Hank Williams may have been separated from his duties of pigskin hype, but I'll gladly pick things up. It's the only time Hank and I will ever be mentioned in the same sentence, I promise.

    I have had my hands all over Madden 13, and I have scoured the ratings like Jon Gruden breaking down a rookie QB.

    I got this down to a science, so this may not be the year you want to see me online in Madden 13. Chances are I'll know your team better than you. 

    Enough of the trash-talk, let's get down to player ratings, per EA Sports.

    It's the thing that makes sports video games go. We all should know by now that Calvin Johnson received a 99 overall rating. A few other stars and players' ratings have become common knowledge as well, but what about the other guys?

    I won't bore you with every single player rating, but I will give a team-by-team breakdown of the strengths and weaknesses of your favorite teams.

    Check out this comprehensive slideshow and feel free to share it. It took me a long time to complete and my wife filed for divorce while I was doing the Dallas Cowboys' slide.

    Any support I receive would be much appreciated in my time of need.

    Carry on.

NFC East: Dallas Cowboys

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    Top Rated Cowboys' Players:

    ROLB, DeMarcus Ware—99 overall

    TE, Jason Witten—93 overall

    DT, Jay Ratliff—92 overall

     

    Quarterbacks

    Tony Romo is a solid 90 overall, and despite what his haters may think, I believe his ratings are accurate. He has a 90 throwing power rating and 90 in deep accuracy, so he'll be able to hit Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Jason Witten for long completions.

    The Boys also have a decent backup in Kyle Orton. The NFL's second-stringer has an 80 overall rating.

     

    Running Backs

    Dallas isn't loaded at RB, and if you choose this team for your Connected Careers, you may have a decision to make here.

    DeMarco Murray has the highest overall at 83, but Felix Jones is right behind him at 81. Jones is a little faster with a 96 speed rating, compared to a 94 for Murray. You could always use them in tandem, but neither is a stud at this point.

    Lawrence Vickers is a solid blocking fullback. He has a 76 overall rating with decent speed (73) for a blocking back.

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

    The Boys are solid here, but if your CC uses pre-existing injuries, you'll be stung by Jason Witten's spleen injury. If he misses significant time your Madden Cowboys will miss him as much as the real Cowboys.

    He has a 93 overall rating with a ridiculous 97 in catching. This is why Tony Romo loves him so much.

    The Boys aren't hurting at wideout either. 

    Miles Austin has an 88 overall with a 90 catch rating. Dez Bryant is an 86 overall with a 94 catch rating. Those three options are great weapons and give Dallas one of the strongest WR/TE combinations on the game.

     

    Offensive Line

    The Boys' O-Line has shifted around a bit from the unit that was available in the retail version of Madden 12.

    Doug Free is now the RT and he and potential stud Tyron Smith anchor the Dallas' line. This isn't the dominant Cowboys' line from the 1990s and early 2000s. 

    There are no sure fire future hall of famers, and that is part of the reason they don't have a dominant RB. It also has something to do with Romo's inconsistencies.

    If you take control of this squad, bolstering this unit would go a long way in building a champion.

     

    Defensive Line

    The Cowboys play a Base 3-4, so their D-Line must be stout against the run and pass-rushing isn't quite as important as it is in other sets.

    That said, Jay Ratliff is certainly one of the better interior lineman in the game. He's 6'4" 303 pounds but he has the speed to cause problems in the backfield.

    The other two starters should be the newly signed Kenyon Coleman and veteran Jason Hatcher.

    Thanks to a beast at ROLB, these big guys don't have to apply much pressure on the QB.

     

    Linebackers

     

    Ware is one of the most dangerous defensive players ever on Madden, but the key is knowing how and when to unleash the beast.

    If you fall in love with the 99 overall rating and you try to take control of him on every play, a savvy Madden player will pick you apart.

    You have to pick your spots, switch to him late sometimes, and then allow him to wreak havoc. The remaining pieces of the Cowboys linebacker corps isn't too bad either.

    Anthony Spencer, Dan O'Connor and Sean Lee are a solid bunch, Lee is a tackling machine on Madden 13 after tallying 107 tackles in 2011.

     

    Defensive Backs

    Brandon Carr was a great addition to the secondary. He and rookie Morris Claiborne are the starters. Claiborne is a future superstar.

    He's only a rookie and he's already at an 81 overall.

    Michael Jenkins rounds out the top three corners with an 80 overall rating. The Boys should be much improved in pass coverage.

    Freakish athlete Gerald Sensabaugh of the 95 jump rating is at one safety, but the shaky Brodney Pool is at the other safety spot. This unit can tackle, but they may have some deep coverage weaknesses.

     

    Special Teams

    Kicker Dan Bailey has an 80 overall rating. In 2011, he made 32 of 39 FGs, but only made one from 50 yards or longer. Punter Chris Jones rounds out an underwhelming kicking tandem for the Cowboys.

    The return men are a different story. Both Felix Jones and Dez Bryant have big play capabilities. They will be major threats to setup solid field position—if the punt return game is a little less difficult on Madden 13 for you.

NFC East: Philadelphia Eagles

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    Top Rated Eagles Players:

    LT, Jason Peters—96 overall

    RB, LeSean McCoy—95 overall

    RE, Trent Cole—95 overall

    LE, Jason Babin—93 overall

     

    Quarterbacks

    Michael Vick has an overall rating of an 89. His 90 overall speed rating is still formidable, but thanks to Robert Griffin III, he's not the fastest QB in the game anymore.

    He does still boast a ridiculously strong arm. He has a 97 throwing power, but his overall was brought down by his awareness rating of 76. I personally think that is a bit low, but this is the hand he's been dealt.

    Mike Kafka is a pretty significant fall-off from Vick. He has a 72 overall rating, and because he has only a 63 speed rating, you'll have to change your style of play if Vick gets injured. 

    Vick only has a 77 injury rating, so it is definitely a possibility.

    That is a rating he does deserve.

     

    Running Backs

    LeSean McCoy is one of the most devastating weapons on the game, but if you pick the Eagles, you better hope he doesn't get hurt. 

    He has a 95 overall, which is the fourth-highest rating for a RB on the game. He has a 93 speed rating and a 99 elusiveness, so you can clearly see the game-breaking ability.

    But the drop-off to the second-stringer is drastic.

    Dion Lewis sits at a 72 overall, and his 85 speed is barely workable at RB.

    The Eagles' fullback Stanley Havili isn't a major part of what they do on offense. That's a good thing, because he has only a 63 overall.

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

    The Eagles don't have a dominant receiver, but they have two solid speed merchants in DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. They are both rated an 86, which I believe is incorrect. There is no way Maclin is on par with Jackson.

    Jackson has a 98 speed rating, while Maclin is at a 95, but Jackson should have a larger edge in catch rating and awareness. 

    Brent Celek is decent at TE with his 83 overall rating. He's not a game breaker, but he should be fairly dependable. 

    Jason Avant adds some depth as the third receiver. He has an 79 overall and that makes for a very effective receiving corp.

     

    Offensive Line

    No matter who you start at left tackle, you'll miss Jason Peters. The bookend tackle will be injured if you use the pre-existing injury option, so that will probably leave Demetress Bell as your starter

    That represents a huge fall-off from Peters.

    Luckily Todd Herremans is on the other side, and he's one of the game's best right tackles. In real life, that's Vick's blind side, but in Madden you don't have a blind side, so there.

    Evan Mathis does help strengthen the left side of the line. He has a 92 overall rating at left guard.

    The right guard is a position of concern for the Eagles. Danny Watkins isn't a standout, but with Vick and McCoy in the backfield the running game should be fine.

     

    Defensive Line

    The Eagles have pass-rushers galore. Jason Babin and Trent Cole had 29 sacks between them in 2011. They must be accounted for off the edge.

    Cullen Jenkins and rookie Fletcher Cox round out what is a highly-rated defensive line on Madden 13.

    A good strategy would be to control a linebacker while the talents of the Eagles front four does its damage.

    You could basically pick lanes for penetrating, and help to set the edge with the LB.

     

    Linebackers

    Adding DeMeco Ryans is a big deal for the Eagles. He should provide some speed for gamers to take control of behind the nasty D-Line.

    If you've played with the Eagles in the past, you know Ryans will be the best Eagles MLB on Madden since Jeremiah Trotter. The Eagles outside LB are young, small and explosive.

    Rookie Mychal Kendricks is dinged in his ratings a bit because of inexperience, but look for his ratings to rise after a few updates. Brian Rolle is only 23 years old, but he had 54 tackles in 2011, still he has only a 71 overall rating.

    In a Connected Careers, this unit has tremendous upside, but the outside linebackers are rated low to start.

     

    Defensive Backs

    The Eagles' secondary is one of the best—if not the best—defensive backs unit on Madden 13. Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen had nine INT between them in 2011.

    OJ Atogwe is on the squad as well, and I think the best safety lineup is with him at strong safety with Allen at free safety.

    They aren't exactly the Dream Team, as Asomugha isn't rated in top 10 defensive players this year, but he's still rock solid. DRC's athleticism and size makes him a solid match for just about any assignment, and Allen is a hitter at safety.

     

    Special Teams

    Alex Henery was pretty solid for the Eagles in 2011. He was 24-of-27 in field goals, and that has lead to an increase from his Madden 12 rating of 66. Chas Henry is decent at punter, but not one of the game's best.

    Even though Madden 13 may not put DeSean Jackson back to return punts, most gamers probably will. He's so fast and dangerous, it's hard to ignore that 99 rating as a kick and punt returner.

NFC East: NY Giants

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    Top Rated Giants' Players:

    QB, Eli Manning—97 overall

    RE, Jason Pierre-Paul—96 overall

    WR, Hakeem Nicks—94 overall

     

    Quarterbacks

    I think the Giants are set here. Eli has an overall of 97, and he's only 31 years old. If you take the Giants in your CC, you know who your QB will be for awhile. 

    If the unthinkable were to happen, and Eli was injured, David Carr (71) and Ryan Perrilloux (55) won't do you much good. 

    Good thing Eli's injury rating is a 98.

     

    Running Backs

    The Giants are in a little transition here. Ahmad Bradshaw is the starter, and he's solid with an 88 overall rating. But his injury rating is only a 75.

    I like the rookie David Wilson. He's faster than Bradshaw, (94 to 92) and I think that will increase when the updates begin.

    He only has a 74 overall right now, but he's great from a CC standpoint.

    Henry Hynoski is a strong blocker with an 82 run-block strength, but he's slow and has a 71 awareness. He's just a decent blocking fullback.

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

    This is possibly the best starting receiving corp in Madden 13. Hakeem Nicks is one of the team's overall best with a 94 overall rating. 

    He has a 95 spectacular catch and catch rating, and he also has a 96 catch-in-traffic rating. I guess it pays to have enormous hands.

    On the opposite side of him is Mr. Salsa, Victor Cruz. He's a 90 overall.

    Nicks is 24 and Cruz is 25, this a common theme with the Giants on Madden 13: 90 overall ratings and youth.

    That makes them a prime CC choice.

    That said, they have almost nothing in the slot. There is a huge drop-off to Ramses Barden, who has a 69 overall. He's huge at 6'6", but his 61 awareness rating and 56 in route running could hurt.

    The TE's are just so-so with Martellus Bennett being the best. He has a 79 overall rating, but he doesn't have the type of speed (77) to cause a ton of problems for coverage.

     

    Offensive Line

    The Giants have strong guard play from David Diehl and Chris Snee. They are rated 81 and 88, respectively. But the middle and the edges are just decent.

    Teams with top notch edge-rushers can get to Eli, and possibly test the validity of that 98 injury rating.

    The guards make it easy to run inside and help on plays where they have to pull. But the tackles may struggle holding their blocks on runs off their outside shoulders.

     

    Defensive Line

    This is still a strength of the Giants' defense and team. JPP is a beast at 96 overall, and here's that theme again, he's just 23 years old.

    He has an 85 speed rating, and his pass-rush ratings are off the charts. An 84 in power moves, 99 in finesse moves and 98 in pursuit.

    Yep, that's a cyber beast.

    Justin Tuck isn't far behind, he's at 93 overall. A bit of a forgotten guy is Osi Umenyiora, but he is at an 88 overall as a third DE.

    The DT position is pretty solid as well. Chris Canty and Larry Joseph are solid with an 87 and 82 rating, respectively. But keep an eye on Marvin Austin in your CC.

    He's only 23, but he has a speed rating of 75. He could be a riser through your virtual seasons.

     

    Linebackers

    The Giants have decent OLBs, but Chase Blackburn isn't the ideal MLB.

    He only has a 73 speed rating, and a 76 overall. Mathias Kiwanuka (83) and Michael Boley (81) are both in the 80s for their overall rating.

     

    Defensive Backs

    There isn't a ton of speed here for the Giants.

    Corey Webster (87) and Terrell Thomas (86) are below 90 in that category. That generally is a good benchmark in speed for your starting corners, but the G-Men's duo falls short. But they both tackle well, and their overall ratings are decent: an 89 for Webster and 85 for Thomas.

    Prince Amukumara is a solid nickel-back. He has good speed with a 93, and he will probably be the starter in coming years in your CC.

    The Giants' defensive line needs to get pressure because the safeties don't have a lot of speed either.

    If fast receivers are allowed to get deep into their routes, the Giants' secondary could be in trouble. Neither Antrel Rolle (86), nor Kenny Phillips (89) cracks the 90-mark.

     

    Special Teams

    This is not a strong suit for the Giants. The kicking game is just average, and Jerrel Jernigan is one of the least dangerous kick returners on Madden 13.

NFC East: Washington Redskins

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    Top Rated Redskins Players:

    ROLB, Brian Orakpo—91 overall

    MLB, London Fletcher—91 overall

    LT, Trent Williams—87 overall

     

    Quarterbacks

    The Skins' QB situation is solid, especially if you're looking at using them as a coach in Connected Careers. Robert Griffin III is a 22-year-old rookie, but he's already at an 83 overall rating. He has a 93 speed and 95 throwing power.

    His awareness is low, as you would expect with a rookie, but it's clear the best is yet to come with him.

    Rex Grossman and rookie Kirk Cousins offer viable backup options. Grossman has a 75 overall and Cousins' 72 overall rating is solid for a rookie, and a third-stringer. Ultimately, he'll be RG3's backup as the years on your CC progress, unless you trade one or both of them.

     

    Running Backs

    The backfield is not as promising for Washington. Roy Helu, Jr. is the starter and though he has a 93 speed rating, his agility is only 88 and his awareness is a 68. That equates to a 79 overall, and he won't be among the best RBs in the game, at least not in the retail version.

    Perhaps he'll receive a boost in the updated ratings if he has a big year.

    Tim Hightower is his backup, and his rating is a 77 overall.

    Darrel Young is the FB, but his 74 overall rating isn't overly impressive either.

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

    Santana Moss and Pierre Garcon are fairly solid with an 83 and 82 respectively, but they won't win many jump-balls. Neither of them is over six-feet tall, and that could pose some gamers an issue.

    Josh Morgan is in the slot, with a 79 overall.

    Fred Davis is one of the better pass-catching TEs in the game. He has an 83 overall, and his 84 speed and 87 catch rating will cause some issues for your opponents' LB core.

     

    Offensive Line

    The Skins' line is just so-so. It's anchored by Willams at LT, and he is one of the top three players on the Skins' roster. But he and Kory Lichtensteiger are the only two O-Lineman that crack the 80-overall rating mark.

    Both are on the left side of the line, so it's obvious which side is the strongest.

     

    Defensive Line

    The Skins play a Base 3-4, and their three down linemen are all big. Each of them weigh over 300 pounds, but none are particularly dominant. 

    The current depth chart has Jarvis Jenkins starting ahead of Adam Carriker on the left side, but you may want to change that. Carriker has a higher rating. He's faster and he has higher awareness.

    That said, none of the Skins' lineman crack the 80 overall mark.

     

    Linebackers

    This is where Washington's defense is nasty. Their combination of Orakpo, Fletcher, Ryan Kerrigan and Perry Riley can wreak havoc as pass-rushers and in run support.

    Orakpo and Fletcher round out the last two spots of the Skins' top three players, and Kerrigan isn't far behind with an 86-overall.

    None of them have a speed rating lower than 80.

    Besides RG3, this is the highlight of the team.

     

    Defensive Backs

    The Skins have decent starting corners with DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson. They have 86 and 83-overall ratings, respectively. Both are blazing fast as well with a 97 and 95-speed ratings.

    The nickel back is a bit of a fall-off, especially in the speed department. Cedric Griffin is a respectable 76 overall, but his speed rating of an 85 could make him a target for teams with a speedy slot receiver.

    You may have to switch Hall or Wilson in these situations, but that would leave Griffin on a No.1 or No. 2 receiver.

    Decisions, decisions, decisions.

    The safeties could be an issue for the Skins as well. Brandon Merriweather has good speed with a 91, but his awareness (70) and tackle rating (65) are low.

    Tanard Jackson is the free safety, but he lacks the speed (86) to provide assistance deep on a burner.

     

    Special Teams

    Brian Banks is an excellent kick and punt returner. He's small, but he has a 97 speed and a high nineties rating in all elusive categories.

    The kickers and punter aren't anything too special. Neil Rackers is at a 79 overall and Sav Rocca is rated a 72.

NFC North: Chicago Bears

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    Top Rated Bears Players

    RE - Julius Peppers—97 overall

    MLB, Brian Urlacher—95 overall

    RB, Matt Forte—93 overall

     

    Quarterbacks 

    The Bears have a very solid QB situation. Jay Cutler is the clear starter, and he has a cannon for an arm. He has a 98 throwing power, and only Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions has a stronger arm.

    Cutler's accuracy ratings dip him to a still solid 87 overall. If Cutler gets hurt for your Cyber Bears, as he did for the real Bears in 2011, Jason Campbell is a solid backup.

    Campbell has a 79 overall rating, so he should be able to hold the fort better than Caleb Hanie did last season.

     

    Running Backs

    The Bears backfield is just about as strong—if not stronger—than the QBs. They finally inked Matt Forte, and he's one of the best runners on the game with a 93 overall rating.

    His versatility makes him one of the most dangerous players on the game. Michael Bush is also a very capable second option.

    Bush should be to Forte what he was to Darren McFadden over the last few seasons. He's an 83 overall with an 86 speed, so he isn't a burner, but he can get the tough yardage with his 94 truck rating.

    Tyler Clutts is the blocking FB, but he isn't exactly a difference maker with a 66 overall rating. I for one, will be using Bush and Forte in the backfield together in some sets, so there.

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

    This is where the Bears have improved the most. The addition of Brandon Marshall gives the Bears a premier receiver for the first time in a long while. Marshall is also among the best at his position on the game.

    He has a 91 overall rating, with an 88 in speed and a 85 in catching. Devin Hester is the second best player here for now, with a 78 overall. This rating is largely fueled by his 98 speed rating and 99 in acceleration.

    But I think the rookie Alshon Jeffery will overtake him after a few roster updates. He has looked good in two preseason games, and I think he will leap frog Hester on the real-life depth chart.

    Right now, Madden has him rated a 70 overall.

     

    Offensive Line

    The Bears O-Line is their biggest weakness.

    The LT situation is a bit shaky with J'Marcus Webb and Chris Williams. The RT is unproven with Gabe Carimi, but he does have a 79 overall rating, which is the highest of the unit.

    The interior line is a little better with Roberto Garza, Lance Louis, Chris Spencer and the newly acquired Chilo Rachal.

    But this is one of the main areas a Connected Careers coach needs to address with the Bears.

     

    Defensive Line

    Peppers makes everyone on the Bears' defense better. If you are good with varying your pass-rushing moves, you can wreak havoc with Pep.

    He's a 97 overall and solid when it comes to pass-rushing and run defense.

    The rest of the Bears' defensive line benefits from his presence. Israel Idonije has had the best years of his career on the opposite side of Peppers. He had five sacks in 2011, and he's a solid run stuffer.

    Rookie Shea McClellin has solid upside, and he has a 76 overall rating.

    The tackles aren't as dominant, but Henry Melton is very athletic and Matt Toeaina has an impressive strength rating. Speaking of strength ratings, combine freak Stephen Paea is lurking as a possibility at this position as well.

     

    Linebackers

    Brian Urlacher's knee probably won't keep him off the retail roster, even if you have the pre-existing injury option on. He and Lance Briggs make the LB corps a strong one. Urlacher is second only to Peppers in overall rating for the Bears with a 95, and Briggs is a stout 92 overall.

    The other spot in this unit isn't as formidable with Nick Roach.

    If you are a Connected Careers coach for the Bears, you'll have to get Urlacher's successor on the team as soon as possible.

     

    Defensive Backs

    This is another area of concern for the Bears.

    The corners are decent with Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, but Peanut is nearing the end of a distinguished career, but he still has an 89 overall rating.

    The safeties are especially worrisome if you keep the Bears in the Tampa-2 scheme.

    The scheme depends heavily on the range and awareness of the free safety, and up to now Chris Conte is unproven.

    Major Wright's ratings won't blow anyone away at strong safety either.

     

    Special Teams

    This is always a strong unit for the Bears. Devin Hester is the greatest return man in the history of the sport. He has a 99 overall in that role, and even Eric Weems is a solid performer in this role.

    Robbie Gould is one of Madden's highest-rated kickers, and Adam Podlesh is just beneath the Shane Lechlers of the Madden world.

NFC North: Detroit Lions

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    Top Rated Lions Players

    WR, Calvin Johnson—99 overall

    DT, Ndamukong Suh—92 overall

    QB, Matthew Stafford—91 overall

     

    Quarterbacks

    Matthew Stafford is one of the most overrated players on the game in my opinion, but I understand why he is rated a 91 overall. I got two words for you: Calvin Johnson.

    The stats are what they are, so it would be impossible to decrease his rating too much. But I point to these accuracy numbers and I cry foul: 96 short accuracy, 88 medium accuracy and 87 deep accuracy.

    Many of Stafford's passes are not throw with a ton of touch or accuracy, but Megatron doesn't require much accuracy.

    Backing Stafford is Shaun Hill, and he's serviceable with a 76 overall rating, but Megatron can make anyone look good.

     

    Running Backs

    The Lions are hurting here—in a way. I say "in a way" because Jahvid Best is the starter with a modest 81 overall, but he has a 97 speed rating and a 95 acceleration. Though he lacks in a few areas, he does have game breaking speed.

    With the passing game the Lions have, Best could pop a few huge gainers against you, or you on Madden 13.

    Kevin Smith is his backup, and he has only a 78 overall rating. Almost every one of the Lions' RBs have troublesome injury ratings. Smith has an 83 and Best has a 67 in that category. It's a good thing they have so many.

    If you take them in a Connected Career, this may be the position you target first.

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

    The cover athlete has a 99 overall rating, and he deserves it, period. He is the single most physically gifted receiver I've ever seen, and I've been watching football for a long time.

    He's clearly the best weapon in the passing game in real life, and in Madden 13.

    The isn't much to shout about with the Lions receivers after Megatron. Nate Burleson has a 77 overall rating, and Titus Young has a 75. I've heard grumblings about Young being underrated, but I don't think he accomplished enough as a rookie to warrant more than a 75 overall.

    Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler give the Lions a very nice TE tandem. Pettigrew is an 84 overall and Scheffler has a 77 overall. I'd love to use some dual TE sets with Megatron on the outside.

     

    Offensive Line

    The Lions' offensive line has been together for a while. As a unit they are pretty solid from left to right. Jeff Backus (81 overall) and Rob Sims (88 overall) are the best of the bunch and they anchor the left side.

    Looking up the middle, Dominic Raiola and Stephen Peterman are steady, but Gosder Cherilus is the weakest link with a 76 overall rating.

    This an underrated group, and part of the reason Matt Stafford's rating is so high.

     

    Defensive Line

    The Lions young defensive line is ferocious, and besides the Stafford-to-Megatron connection, this is the best thing the team has going for it.

    Ndamukong Suh (92 overall) and Nick Fairley (79 overall) are the highest-rated young DTs in Madden 13. They likely represent the future of the interior line, but for now veteran Corey Williams starts alongside Suh.

    Williams' 83 overall rating trumps Fairley at this time.

    Cliff Avril (89 overall) and Kyle Vanden Bosch (82 overall) had a combined 19 sacks in 2011. The Lions D-Line is a solid unit, but replacing an aging Vanden Bosch could be required in Connected Careers.

     

    Linebackers

    The Lions' linebackers are a nice group. Stephen Tulloch anchors the bunch with a solid 90 overall rating. He's flanked by Justin Durant (83 overall) and DeAndre Levy (80 overall).

    They are young, so a Connected Careers coach should feel comfortable with this group now and into the immediate future.

     

    Defensive Backs

    Cornerback is a definite position of need for the Lions. Chris Houston is the only corner on the roster that cracks the 80 overall mark. At an 83 overall rating he isn't exactly a shutdown corner.

    Alphonso Smith and Aaron Berry are next in line, but the drop-off is clear. Smith has a 74 overall and Berry a 73. This should be your main focus in Connected Careers.

    I believe Louis Delmas is underrated with a 83 overall rating. If you play with pre-exisiting injuries on, he'll probably be out at the beginning of your season.

    Amari Spievey is the best bet at strong safety because of his speed (86) and age (24 years old). Though he and Erik Coleman are both rated a 77 overall.

     

    Special Teams

    At 42 years old, Jason Hanson is still kicking—literally. He has a solid 87 overall rating, but his successor should be signed shortly. The punting game isn't great with Ryan Donahue and his 60 overall rating.

    Stefan Logan is a returner extraordinaire. He has a 96 rating as a return man with a 94 speed rating. He can be dangerous, and the last thing you want to do is give this team good field position.

NFC North: Green Bay Packers

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    Top Rated Packers Players

    QB, Aaron Rodgers—99 overall

    RG, Josh Sitton—95 overall

    LOLB, Clay Matthews—94 overall

     

    Quarterbacks

    Rodgers is the highest-rated QB in the game, and though I still favor Tom Brady, how can you argue with Rodgers' 99 overall rating.

    He can fling it, he's mobile and he runs the Packers' offense with poise and efficiency.

    But if he gets hurt, and you're controlling the Packers, you are in trouble. The fall-off from Rodgers to Graham Harrell is monumental. Harrell has a 66 overall rating, and that is a whole 33 points less than Rodgers.

    That is the most significant drop from starter to backup QB on the game.

     

    Running Backs

    I suppose it wouldn't really be fair if the Pack had a stud RB to go with Rodgers and their awesome receiving corp. No fear, the Packers have the lowest-rated starting RB in the game—at least for now.

    James Starks has only a 77 overall rating. He has a 90 speed rating, but he dips way off in all of the other key categories. 

    The Packers did sign Cedric Benson, so that could be an improvement. We'll have to see what rating he gets when he's added to the Packers' roster. But for now, fullback John Kuhn is the highest-rated player in the backfield.

    He has an 86 overall rating, and boy wouldn't it be cool if the Lambeau faithful could be heard bellowing: "KUUUHNNN!!" when he scored, or made a big play.

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

    The Packers really shine in this area. Greg Jennings is a well-deserved 93 overall. Jordy Nelson has a solid 89 overall, and that tandem is only eclipsed by the Giants starters in total overall rating.

    To make the passing attack even more dangerous, tight end Jermichael Finley has an 86 overall rating with an 85 in speed. Even the third receiver James Jones has a 79 overall.

    This team has weapons galore.

     

    Offensive Line

    As great as Rodgers is, he doesn't do it alone. His receiver corps is great, but so is the O-Line. The Packers won't miss a beat at center—at least on Madden—with the departure of center Scott Wells.

    They signed longtime Colt Jeff Saturday, and he has a 90 overall. On Saturday's right side is the underrated but dominant Josh Sitton, and he has a 95 overall rating.

    The only question mark on an otherwise dominating O-Line is at LT. Marshall Newhouse has only a 73 overall rating.

     

    Defensive Line

    Ryan Pickett (85 overall rating) and B.J. Raji (84 overall rating) are big and nasty, but Jarius Wynn isn't a standout at LE. Luckily he has Clay Matthews off his left shoulder to add pressure.

     

    Linebackers

    The Packers' LBs are pretty scary. Matthews is a maniac on the left side with a 94 overall rating. Desmond Bishop (86 overall ) and A.J. Hawk (83 overall) are solid inside. 

    For now, rookie Nick Perry has only a 73 overall, but his ratings could rise through the season, and definitely in your Connected Careers.

    He has an 86 speed rating so he could still be a force.

     

    Defensive Backs

    The starting corners are rock solid.

    Charles Woodson is 35 years old, but he also still has an 89 overall rating. Tramon Williams is right behind him with an overall rating of 88.

    The nickel and dime backs are a bit of a drop-off, but at least Sammy Shields has a blazing speed rating of 97.

    Free Safety Morgan Burnett has only been in the league two years, but he has an overall rating of an 81. Charlie Peprah is the only member of the Packers' secondary that doesn't have an 80 overall or higher.

    He is rated a 77 overall.

     

    Special Teams

    Mason Crosby is among the better kickers on Madden 13. He has an overall rating of 83, but he has a stick of dynamite in his leg. His kick power rating is a 98.

    Tim Masthay is just average at the punter position. His overall rating of 76 is enough to turn the field around, but not on a Pro Bowl level.

    Randall Cobb is the return man, and his 94 rating in this role makes him a valuable weapon to an already devastating offense.

NFC North: Minnesota Vikings

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    Top Rated Vikings Players

    RE, Jared Allen—98 overall

    RB, Adrian Peterson—97 overall

    DT, Kevin Williams—94 overall

     

    Quarterbacks

    This is definitely not one of the Vikings strongest positions, and that partially explains why they weren't very good in 2011.

    Christian Ponder is the starter with a 75 overall rating. He has decent mobility with a rating of 75 in speed, but his awareness is a very modest 66. The backup situation isn't very promising either. 

    Sage Rosenfels has only a 70 overall rating. In a Connected Career, you may want to start looking for a franchise QB.

     

    Running Backs

    AP is the truth, and I defy anyone to dispute his 97 overall rating. The only weakness he should have is his injury rating coming off a torn ACL and MCL. It is indeed an 84, so that would explain Peterson not being a 99 overall.

    That said, you may have to use that backup RB during your season. Toby Gerhart has a 75 overall rating, and he'll be a decent backup. But with the Vikings poor passing attack, you're screwed if Peterson goes down.

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

    If this group was better, it could hide the fact that Ponder is underwhelming. Percy Harvin has an 87 overall rating—which I think is about two or three points too high—and the ultra athletic Jerome Simpson has an 80.

    In case you were wondering Simpson has a 98 jump rating. That is definitely significant, but with the hops he's displayed he should have been rated a 100.

    I love Larry Fitzgerald, and he's a better overall player than Simpson, but there is no way anyone should have a higher jump rating than Simpson.

     

    Offensive Line

    The Vikings' O-Line should be much improved. Rookie Matt Kalil steps into the LT spot with an 81 overall rating, and last year's dreadful LT, Charlie Johnson, is at a more comfortable LG position.

    He has an overall rating of 81 there.

    John Sullivan is the best player on the O-Line, and the starting center has an overall rating of 91.

     

    Defensive Line

    We know about Jared Allen and his 98 overall rating, but Brian Robison is no slouch on the other side. He has an overall rating of an 86.

    Kevin Williams is a stud at DT with an overall rating of 94, but the Vikes lack depth there.

    The other starter is Letroy Guion, and he only boasts a 69 overall rating.

     

    Linebackers

    The Linebackers are just OK in Minnesota.

    Chad Greenway is the best of the bunch with an overall rating of 88. Erin Henderson is the other OLB, and he has an overall rating of 81. But the MLB spot is the position that is hurting the most.

    Jaspar Brinkley's 72 overall rating isn't up to speed.

     

    Defensive Backs

    Antoine Winfield is the only Vikings' DB rated higher than a 75 overall. That isn't good, especially in a division with the Bears, Lions and Packers.

    What's even worse is that Winfield is 35 years old, so he won't be around long in your Connected Careers.

    Harrison Smith is a mildly promising rookie at free safety, but this unit still needs some attention.

     

    Special Teams

    Without Ryan Longwell the Vikes' kicking game has fallen off. Rookie Blair Walsh is only rated a 66 overall.

    At least Chris Kluwe is still solid at punter with an 86 overall rating.

    Harvin is a dynamic kick returner, and he could help the Vikes' offense out with field position, and they may need all the help they can get.

NFC South: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Top Rated Buccaneers Players:

    LG, Carl Nicks—97 overall

    WR, Vincent Jackson—89 overall

    RG, Davin Joseph—88 overall

     

    Quarterbacks

    Do you still believe in Josh Freeman?

    That is probably one of the first questions you'll have to answer if you choose the Bucs in a Connected Careers experience. He's an 82 overall, but the physical skills are undeniable.

    He has a rating of 97 in throwing power, but your challenge will be to boost his 70 awareness rating. Dan Orlovsky is a solid backup, but if you don't like Freeman, you'll have to grab a QB.

     

    Running Backs

    I love Doug Martin in real life, but he's a rookie so he isn't a stud on Madden yet. He has just a 76 overall rating, but that 95 acceleration rating is a hint of things to come. LeGarrette Blount is the highest-rated back at 79.

    The Bucs would be better off if Martin's ratings increased, and the two formed a thunder and lightning-like duo.

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

    Now that Freeman has an unquestioned No. 1 receiver in Vincent Jackson, he'll have no excuse in real life, and you shouldn't give him one on Madden.

    Jackson has an 89 overall rating, and TE Dallas Clark (81 overall) and WR Mike Williams (79 overall) are decent secondary options.

    There is no reason the Bucs can't be improved this year on Madden, and in real life.

     

    Offensive Line

    With this O-Line and the addition of Jackson at receiver, Freeman should have a solid year. The Bucs have built a solid wall in front of their QB, and it starts with free agent pick up Carl Nicks.

    He has a 97 overall rating and is clearly one of the best players at his position in Madden 13. Davin Joseph is also a stud at the other guard position.

    He represents with an overall rating of 88. Only the center and RT spots don't feature players with an overall rating of 80 or higher.

     

    Defensive Line

    The best thing about the Bucs D-Line is its youthfulness. None of the starters are over 25 years old, and the lowest overall rating is a 75.

    Gerald McCoy (84 overall), Michael Bennett (81 overall) and Adrian Clayton (80 overall) make up a solid group to build around.

     

    Linebackers

    This unit is pretty young as well, but they are rated far lower.

    Quincy Black (73 overall), Mason Foster (74 overall) and rookie Lavonte David (71 overall) are all rated well below 80 overall.

     

    Defensive Backs

    The Bucs need a CB to add to the secondary. Aqib Talib is rated an 89 overall, but the next highest rated corner is Eric Wright. 

    He chimes in with an underwhelming 79 overall rating. 

    The safeties are in far better shape.

    The ageless Ronde Barber is 37 years old, but he is still rated an 87 overall. Rookie Mark Barron may be the best young player on the defense.

    He's only 22 years old, but he's already rated an 80 overall.

     

    Special Teams

    Conor Barth is a solid kicker as his 82 overall rating would indicate. I'd much rather have Martin Grammatica, though.

    The punting is handled nicely by Michael Koenen. He has an 84 overall rating, and rounds out a pretty solid kicking tandem.

    You may have to do something unconventional with the return game. Sammie Stroughter is not a weapon, yet he's placed in that position.

NFC South: Atlanta Falcons

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    Top Rated Falcons Players

    WR, Roddy White—94 overall

    RB, Michael Turner—91 overall

    RE, John Abraham—91 overall

     

    Quarterbacks

    Matt Ryan is the franchise QB in Atlanta. He has an 89 overall rating, and in 89 awareness. He'll be a solid choice for your starter for a while. 

    Ryan has been durable, and you should hope that continues.

    Chris Redman is a drop-off as his backup. He has only a 73 overall rating, but the Falcons have a nice complement of weapons, even for the mediocre QB.

     

    Running Backs

    Michael Turner made the top 10 HBs list with a 91 overall rating. He has a 98 in trucking so he can wreak havoc on those inside runs. The Falcons also have Jacquizz Rodgers as his backup.

    He's a little guy, and he's not exceptionally fast, but he's quick as a hiccup. EA did a great job of capturing Rodgers unique abilities with his 97 acceleration rating. Rodgers has only a 74 overall rating, though.

    Jason Snelling is a more than capable FB. His 74 overall rating will be just fine in this offense.

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

    The Falcons are amongst the elite on the game in this category. Roddy White has a 94 overall rating, which is the sixth-best rating among receivers. Julio Jones has an 88, and I gotta believe that number is on the rise.

    Tony Gonzalez has an 87 overall, but if you take the Falcons you know he won't be on your team for long in Connected Careers.

    Still, this unit is an awesome one, and it rounds out a very good offense for the Falcons.

     

    Offensive Line

    The Falcons have a pretty solid O-Line.

    At RT, Tyler Clabo has a 90 overall rating. Todd McClure (89 overall) and Justin Blalock (85 overall) both are among the better players at their positions.

    Rookie Peter Konz is only rated a 72 overall at RG, but that should improve over time.

     

    Defensive Line

    John Abraham is still a top-notch pass-rusher, and he's rated a 94 overall. Ray Edwards definitely pulls his weight on the other side.

    He is rated an 83 overall.

    The DTs are solid as well.

    Jonathan Babineaux (87 overall) and Corey Peters (82 overall) will make it tough to run on the Falcons.

     

    Linebackers

    The only standout in this unit is Sean Weatherspoon.

    The ROLB is rated an 88 overall, but the other two starting spots are like patchwork.

    Lofa Tatupu is only rated a 75 overall and Stephen Nicholas is rated a 77. Fortunately, the D-Line can be dominant so it can take pressure of this unit.

     

    Defensive Backs

    The Falcons have a very nice secondary.

    The starting corners Brent Grimes (90 overall) and Asante Samuel (88 overall) can match up with any tandem.

    Dunta Robinson may be prone to the bone-headed play in real life, but you can hopefully improve his football IQ on Madden 13.

    He is a solid nickel-back with an overall rating of 81. 

    Thomas DeCoud (82 overall) and William Moore (81 overall) are not a superstar safety tandem, but they are certainly not a weakness on the team.

     

    Special Teams

    Matt Bryant is in the upper-echelon of kickers on Madden 13. He's rated an 88 overall.

    The other Matt that kicks balls for the Falcons isn't quite as good. Matt Bosher is only rated a decent 73 overall.

    Without Eric Weems, the Falcons don't have an explosive kick returner. Dominique Franks may be the guy for now, but his 83 overall rating in the role isn't exciting.

NFC South: Carolina Panthers

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    Top Rated Panthers Players

    WR, Steve Smith—95 overall

    LT, Jordan Gross—93 overall

    C, Ryan Kalil—93 overall

    MLB, Jon Beason—93 overall

     

    Quarterbacks

    Cam Newton is perhaps the best young QB you can have on Madden 13. He's already had enough success to warrant an 89 overall rating, but at only 23 years old, his best years are ahead of him.

    That makes him an extremely attractive option in Connected Careers.

    Derek Anderson is Cam's backup, and he has a 73 overall rating. Anderson isn't nearly as mobile as Cam, but he may be able to keep your team from falling apart for a game or two.

     

    Running Backs

    The Panthers have an interesting mix of backfield options.

    Mike Tolbert is one of the top three rated fullbacks on the game with an 89 overall rating. He has decent blocking ratings (66 run block and 72 impact blocking), but his speed (84) and catching (78) make him a versatile weapon.

    Both halfbacks, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, are rated an 84 overall. Williams is the speed back with a 93 rating, and Stewart the more power-based back, but still decently fast with a 90 rating.

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

    Steve Smith is the fourth-highest rated receiver on the game with a 95 overall. He isn't big, but he has a 96 speed and a 95 catching rating.

    There is a fall-off on the other side of the line of scrimmage, though. Brandon LaFell is the next highest rated receiver at a 74 overall. 

    Greg Olsen is one of the better tight ends on the game. He has a 84 overall rating, and an 87 speed. The latter will make him a matchup problem for most LBs.

     

    Offensive Line

    It may go unnoticed, but the Panthers have one of the best O-Lines on Madden 13. But you better start your Connected Careers before the roster update makes Jeff Otah (85 overall) a free agent.

    Even if he isn't on the team, the unit is still solid. 

    Jordan Gross and Matt Kalil are dominant with their 93 overall ratings, and no starter has an overall less than 79.

     

    Defensive Line

    The D-Line is almost the opposite of the O-Line.

    They have only one standout, and that is RE Charles Johnson. He is rated a 91 overall, but no other starter across the D-Line is rated an 80 or better.

     

    Linebackers

    You have to love the Panthers LBs.

    Jon Beason is the leader at MLB with a 93 overall rating, but James Anderson (87 overall) and rookie Luke Kuechly (81 overall) make this one of the best LB corps in the game.

    They even have a reserve OLB in Thomas Davis who is rated an 80 overall.

     

    Defensive Backs

    Chris Gamble is the truth at corner with an overall rating of 91, but the other corners are not impressive. Captain Munnerlyn has the funniest name in the NFL, but he only has an overall rating of 73.

    Charles Godfrey is passable at strong safety with an 80 overall rating, but the Panthers need depth in this unit.

     

    Special Teams

    The 39-year-old, 15-year veteran Olindo Mare is the kicker, and he can still get the job done with an 82 overall rating.

    The punter is rookie Brad Nortman, and he isn't very good—at least on Madden 13.

    He carries only an overall rating of 57.

    If I'm controlling the Panthers, I'm using rookie Joe Adams in every return situation. He's rated a 95 in this role, and he's my guy for kick and punt return duties.

NFC South: New Orleans Saints

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    Top Rated Saints Players

    QB, Drew Brees—98 overall

    RG, Jahri Evans—96 overall

    TE, Jimmy Graham—95 overall

     

    Quarterbacks

    Part of what is so amazing about Brees is the fact that he has a much deserved 98 overall rating, yet he doesn't have a RB or WR rated in the top 10.

    He does have a TE honored in Graham, but he doesn't have a plethora of outstanding weapons at his disposal. He's one of the QBs that will slice-up opponents on Madden 13.

    Chase Daniel is to Brees what Jim Sorgi was to Peyton Manning for years in Indianapolis. The backup that hometown fans don't want to see.

    Daniel and Luke McCown are both rated 70 overall, and that is not going to get it done.

     

    Running Backs

    Darren Sproles is ultra fast (94), agile (99) and solid overall (89), but he sin't a power back. He has a 40 truck rating, so the Saints must depend on Pierre Thomas for the inside running duties. 

    Thomas is rated an 82 overall. If used properly they can be an effective rushing game.

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

    Jimmy Graham made himself a beast last season, and his Madden 13 ratings reflect his awesome season. I can't argue with his 95 overall rating, and he is Brees' most deadly weapon in the passing game.

    Marques Colston is certainly no slouch. He has a 91 overall rating, and though he isn't fast (85), he has a 97 catch rating and a 90 jump rating. 

    Lance Moore is a solid possession receiver for the Saints. He has an 82 overall, and with Brees under center the Saints' passing attack is formidable.

     

    Offensive Line

    This lineis still nasty—even without Carl Nicks.

    Jahri Evans is the unit's best with a 96 overall rating, but it's not just about him. Ben Grubbs (89 overall) and Jermon Bushrod (88 overall) are both studs on the left side of the line.

    If you give Brees time to throw he will kill you. Consider these big fellas accomplices to the crime.

     

    Defensive Line

    The D-Line is very steady. Veterans Will Smith (86 overall) and Brodrick Bunkley (88 overall) are the best of the starters. Sedrick Ellis (83 overall) is the other starter at DT.

    If you're using the Saints in Connected Careers keep an eye on LE Cameron Jordan. He is only rated a 78 overall now, but he's 23 years old and he should have some upside.

     

    Linebackers

    Curtis Lofton shines at MLB with an overall rating of 90. He is a huge part of the Saints' fsst-pursuing defense.

    David Hawthorne is also a standout at ROLB. He has an overall rating of 88. They could improve on the left side, but generally the Saints are strong here.

     

    Defensive Backs

    The Saints can be attacked in the passing game.

    Jabari Greer is a strong player at cornerback with an 88 overall rating. But there aren't any other players at the position rated higher than 76.

    The safeties are big hitters, but Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins lack the speed to assist on speedy receivers.

     

    Special Teams

    New Orleans kicking specialist are among the best on Madden 13. John Kasay (87 overall) and Thomas Morstead (88 overall) are strong. The Saints even have Super Bowl hero Garrett Hartley on the roster for his strong leg.

    He has a 93 rating in kick power.

    Sproles is very dangerous in the return game. He has a 94 rating in this role, and he can help the Saints win the field position battle.

NFC West: San Francisco 49ers

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    Top Rated 49ers:

    MLB - Patrick Willis - 98 

    RE - Justin Smith - 98

    TE - Vernon Davis - 95

    P - Andy Lee - 95

     

    Quarterbacks

    Alex Smith is the ultimate game manager, but his 83 overall is solid, especially on this stacked team. He has a 78 speed rating, so he can make plays with his feet, but his short (86) and medium accuracy (80) is decent as well.

    Honestly, thats all this team needs.

    Colin Kaepernick and Josh Johnson are athletic options to fill-in for Smith, if he's injured.

    Both of them are rated 70 overall, but they can scoot. Johnson has an 88 speed rating, and Kaepernick a 85.

     

    Running Backs

    The Niners like to run it, and if you play with them, you should to.

    Frank Gore is rated a 92 overall. He isn't blazing fast, and I think the 91 speed rating may be a little too high. But the 93 awareness and 89 truck rating is solid.

    He also has two solid backups in Brandon Jacobs (81 overall) and Kendall Hunter (75 overall). If you really look deep on the depth chart, rookie scat-back LaMichael James is there with a 73 overall rating, and a 92 in speed.

    Bruce Miller is the highest-rated FB on the roster with a 77 overall, but I prefer Darwin Walker. He's only rated a 68, but I throw to the fullback from time to time, and Walker is a much better receiver.

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

    With the additions of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, the Niners now have a solid set of receivers. Michael Crabtree has an 83 overall rating, Moss an 84 and Manningham an 82. 

    They can wreak havoc in three receiver sets, which is why your fullback may not matter much.

    At tight end, they have the second highest-rated player at the position. Davis is one of the Niners' best and his 95 overall makes him a force.

    The 90 speed rating forces you to cover him with a DB, and he'll beat many of them. Davis is one of the most dangerous weapons on Madden 13.

     

    Offensive Line

    The left side of the O-Line is among the best in the NFL. Joe Staley (87 overall) and Mike Iupati (91 overall) anchor the line. But the further you move to the right, things get a little shaky.

    That is especially the case at RG where Daniel Kilgore's 67 overall rating or Alex Boone's 69 would represent one of the lowest overall ratings for any starting offensive lineman in the game.

    Still, the strength of the left side makes this a solid part of the team, but the right side makes them far from perfect.

     

    Defensive Line

    This is where the Niners get back to being awesome. Smith is an absolute monster against the run, and no slouch against the pass.

    He has the 98 overall rating, primarily because of his 96 rating in block shedding, 95 in pursuit and 96 in play recognition.

    Ray McDonald is the man on the left side, and he has a 92 overall rating. 

    The Niners aren't as devastating up the middle, but Isaac Sopoaga's 85 overall rating will definitely hold its own.

    This defensive line is one of the big reasons the Niners' defense is so tough on Madden 13.

     

    Linebackers

    The Niners have incredible depth at LB. The have five LBs with an overall rating of 84 or better. Of course it starts with Willis and his 98 rating.

    This dominating front seven is the reason the Niners defense is sick.

     

    Defensive Backs

    The secondary is solid, but definitely not on the level of the D-Line and LB.

    Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown are solid and physical. Rogers has a 91 overall rating. He has a speed rating of an 88, which isn't ideal, but he makes up for it with an 89 awareness rating.

    Both Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner are big-time hitters. Goldson has an 89 hit power rating and Whitner a 90.

    You think that has anything to do with the shot he put on Pierre Thomas in the NFC Playoffs?

    I think it does.

    Goldson has an overall rating of 84 and Whitner is rated an 88.

     

    Special Teams

    How do you know a team is a legitimate Super Bowl contender?  

    When even the special teams players are solid. David Akers and Andy Lee comprise one of the best—if not the best—kicker and punter combinations on the game.

    Akers is a rated a 91 overall and Lee a 95.

    To top that off, Ted Ginn is the kick and punt returner, and he's pretty good at that.

    The Niners are a fierce bunch on Madden 13.

NFC West: Arizona Cardinals

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    Top Rated Cardinals Players

    WR, Larry Fitzgerald—97 overall

    SS, Adrian Wilson—95 overall

    LE, Calais Campbell—91 overall

     

    Quarterbacks

    The quarterback position is not in good shape for Arizona. Kevin Kolb is probably the best option, but he only has a 75 overall rating. The 71 rating in awareness and 75 throwing accuracy is definitely troublesome.

    John Skelton only has a 74 overall rating, but he does have a 96 throwing power. The problem is his lack of accuracy. If you pick the Cardinals for your Connected Careers you need to make QB your top priority.

     

    Running Backs

    Beanie Wells is a solid power-style runner, but beware this could be a trap. He has an 85 overall with a 96 trucking rating, but his injury rating is only an 82. T

    hat means while you're playing to his style, you'll also be playing to one of his biggest drawbacks.

    LaRod Stephens-Howling is extremely quick with a 94 rating in speed and 95 acceleration. He only has a 74 overall rating, but he could be a nice change of pace and third-down conversions.

     

    Wide Receiver/Tight End

    Fitzgerald is a monster and the only reason he isn't a 99 overall is because he's only rated an 89 in speed. But Fitz is the man in nearly every other category, including catching where he scores a 98.

    He still has an awesome 97 overall rating, which is second only to Calvin Johnson as far as receivers go.

    Rookie Michael Floyd has a 75 overall now, but that is sure to rise in your Connected Careers. Veteran tight end Todd Heap is decent with a 79 overall rating.

    The Cards have weapons in the passing game, but they need to find a QB that can get them the ball.

     

    Offensive Line

    The Cardinals' O-Line is average at best.

    Only Daryn Colledge and Lyle Sendlein eclipse the 80 mark in overall rating.

    Strengthening the protection could help the play of the beleaguered Cardinals' QBs.

     

    Defensive Line

    The strength of the Cardinals' defensive line is on the edges. Both Calais Campbell (91 overall) and Darnell Dockett (89 overall) are effective players.

    The tackles are not as dominant.

    This is part of the reason I'd pound the ball up the middle against this team.

     

    Linebackers

    This unit is the opposite of the defensive line.

    The only standout player is Daryl Washington at MLB. He has an 84 overall rating, and he's one of the most promising players on the team.

    He's only 23 years old, so his ratings should increase in Connected Careers.

     

    Defensive Backs

    The Cards have a nice secondary.

    Patrick Peterson is already really good, but he could become a superstar. He is clearly the best corner with an overall rating of 84. 

    The safeties are possibly the best group in Madden 13.

    Adrian Wilson is second only to Troy Polamalu among strong safeties with his 95 overall rating, and Kerry Rhodes (87 overall) is a stud at free safety.

     

    Special Teams

    The kicking game is pretty sound as well. Jay Feely has an overall rating of 84, and the punter Dave Zastudil is rated a respectable 77.

    The return men are only rivaled by the Chicago Bears' tandem of Devin Hester and Eric Weems.

    Peterson and the little man with the big name (Stephens-Howling) are both rated a 99 as return men.

NFC West: St. Louis Rams

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    Top Rated Rams Players

    RB, Steven Jackson—92 overall

    CB, Cortland Finnegan—92 overall

    LE, Chris Long—91 overall

    RG, Harvey Dahl—91 overall

     

    Quarterbacks

    If you pick the Rams, you may have to make a decision on Sam Bradford at QB.

    He is rated a respectable 80 overall, but if you want to take the team to the next step you'll have to boost that.

    His backup is Kellen Clemens who sits at a 72 overall, so that isn't really an attractive alternative.

     

    Running Backs

    S-Jack is still one of the best RBs in the game. His 92 overall rating in Madden 13 confirms that. But the Rams have a huge fall-off from there at RB.

    Rookie Isaiah Pead is only rated a 69 overall, so if Jackson goes down you may be able to find a better option on the free agent wire.

    This won't matter much in online play, or in one-offs against your friends. But in Connected Careers it's a concern.

     

    Wide Receiver/Tight Ends

    In Bradford's defense, he doesn't exactly have an amazing set of receivers to throw to.

    Steve Smith is the highest rated receiver with a 77 overall. When your best receiver on Madden isn't even rated an 80 overall, you got problems.

    Danny Amendola is rated a 76 overall and the tight ends aren't much better for the Rams. Lance Kendricks is the best of that group with a 72 overall rating. 

    Maybe you should get Bradford some weapons before you dump him.

     

    Offensive Line

    The Rams signed standout center Scott Wells, and he's rated an 89 overall. On his right side Harvey Dahl is rated a 91 overall.

    These two anchor a decent, but imbalanced O-Line.

     

    Defensive Line

    Chris Long is the most dangerous player on the Rams' D-Line. He has an overall rating of 91, and the next highest rating amongst this group is DT Kendall Langford's 86.

    The Rams do have rookie tackle Michael Brockers and second-year player Robert Quinn, but they are question marks.

     

    Linebackers

    The saving grace for the Rams' linebackers is James Laurinaitis. He carries an overall rating of 88 as the starting MLB.

    The other starting linebackers are all just mediocre. None of them have overall ratings higher than a 73.

     

    Defensive Backs

    Aside from Cortland Finnegan, the Rams cornerbacks aren't impressive.

    They do have talented rookie Janoris Jenkins (73 overall) who has tremendous upside, but none of them have an overall rating higher than 77.

    The safety positions are only slightly better.

    Quinton Mikell does have an overall rating of 80 at free safety.

     

    Special Teams

    This may be the worst special teams unit on Madden 13. Both the kicking and return specialist have poor ratings.

    Between rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein (58 overall), second-year punter Tom Malone (59 overall) and second-year return man Chris Reynolds (34 rating as a kick returner), none of the players in the default positions crack 60 overall ratings.

NFC West: Seattle Seahawks

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    Top Rated Seahawks:

    FS - Earl Thomas - 91

    RE - Chris Clemons - 91

    HB - Marshawn Lynch - 90

     

    Quarterbacks

    The Seahawks are a bit unproven at QB. Matt Flynn wasn't given much respect, and rightfully so. Any rating higher than his 79 overall would have been too much.

    Tarvaris Jackson is his backup with a 77 rating, but perhaps the most intriguing player on the roster is rookie Russell Wilson. 

    He's at an overall rating of 70 right now, but if you're thinking Connected Careers with the Seahawks, he could be the QB of the future.

     

    Running Backs

    It's time for Beast Mode.

    Madden didn't get Lynch's facial likeness accurate, but they nailed his attributes. He's one of the Seahawks' best players and his truck rating (98), vision (97) and stiff-arm (99) are the main reasons.

    Leon Washington adds a nice change of pace as a speed back. He only has a 75 overall, but he has a 95 speed rating.

    Michael Robinson is one of the games' best FBs. He has a 89 overall, and most notably an 85 in awareness. 

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

    Sidney Rice is solid with an 84 overall rating and 95 in spectacular catch. But he and Mike Williams have less than durable injury ratings at 71 and 75, respectively.

    That could mean your Connected Careers experience will be seeing a lot of Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate, and some dude named Terrell Owens.

    The Seahawks have two solid TEs.

    Zach Miller and Kellen Winslow are both solid pass-catching options. Winslow has an 85 overall rating and Miller a 79.

     

    Offensive Linemen

    The Seahawks O-Line is decent, but not great. At least one of the players in this unit may have been slighted in the ratings.

    First of all, I think Russell Okung is bit underrated. He only has an 80 overall, and I think that should be more like an 84.

    Max Unger is the other standout. The fourth-year center is an 82 overall.

    No other Seahawks lineman cracks the 80-mark. This hurts what could be an otherwise nasty rushing attack.

     

    Defensive Linemen

    This is a real strength for the Seahawks, they are loaded in the middle of their defensive line.

    Brandon Mebane, Jason Jones and Alan Branch would start for most teams, and all of them have at least an 84 overall rating.

    On the edges, they are almost just as good.

    Chris Clemons is among the Seahawks' best. He has a 91 overall rating that his highlighted by an 80 speed rating.

    Red Bryant isn't far behind him with an 84 overall, and rookie Bruce Irvin is already at a 74, but that seems destined to rise in your Connected Careers.

    He has a freakish 90 speed rating.

     

    Linebackers

    The LBs are a little weak for Seattle.

    None of them are exceptionally fast, but thanks to the nasty D-Line, they may not need to be—at least not in run support.

    They can be had in the passing game.

    If a team has the O-Line to slow the Seahawks nasty pass-rush, no starting Seahawks' LB has a speed rating over 80.

    K.J. Wright is the star of the group. He's only 23, and he's already at an 80 overall. He'll definitely improve through your Connected Careers.

     

    Defensive Backs

    The Seahawks have one of the better secondaries in the game.

    The corners are huge, and great in run-support. Brandon Browner (6'4") and Richard Sherman (6'3") are tall enough to handle the leaping receivers that can cause you problems in Madden.

    However, neither of them is exceptionally fast. Neither Browner nor Sherman crack the 90-mark in speed rating, and they are rated 84 and 83 overall, respectively.

    That said, the Seahawks have awesome safeties.

    Earl Thomas is one of the most underrated players in real football, but not in Madden.

    He's rated a 91 overall, and in my opinion, he's the best player on the team in Madden 13. He has a 93 speed rating and an 84 in tackle.

    Kam Chancellor is no slouch at strong safety either, he has an 89 overall.

    He isn't especially fast (84 speed rating), but he hits. His tackle rating is an 83, but his hit power is a whopping 95.

     

    Special Teams

    Jon Ryan highlights the kicking game.

    His 87 overall places him among the best punters in the game. Washington is an elusive kick and punt returner as well as the backup RB.

AFC East: Buffalo Bills

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    Top Rated Bills Players

    LE, Mario Williams—97 overall

    DT, Kyle Williams—90 overall

    LG, Andy Levitre—90 overall

     

    Quarterbacks

    Ryan Fitzpatrick is just OK as the starter with an 82 overall rating, but if you want a more mobile option Vince Young is his backup. Young is only rated a 75 overall, but he has an 85 speed rating.

    It depends on the style you like to play, but Young could be right up your alley.

     

    Running Backs

    The Bills are solid in the backfield.

    Fred Jackson is versatile and I could make the argument that he should be rated higher than an 89 overall. Only Arian Foster, who has a overall rating of 96, averaged more total yards per game than Jackson 137.6.

    C.J. Spiller is a very capable backup with a rating of 80 overall, and his 95 in speed will make you want to get him some touches.

    Corey McIntyre is serviceable at FB with a 74 overall rating.

    The Bills boast one of Madden 13's best backfields.

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

    Stevie Johnson and Brad Smith are the highest-rated receivers. Johnson is the clear No. 1 guy with a 89 overall rating, while the NFL Swiss-army knife, Smith is rated a 75 overall.

    Tight end Scott Chandler is the best at his position with a 78 overall rating.

    This isn't a sparkling part of this team's attack, so it could be a focus for you if you choose to coach them in Connected Careers.

     

    Offensive Line

    Left tackle is a major issue for the Bills.

    Chris Hairston is only rated a 69 overall, yet he's currently the starter for the Bills on Madden 13.

    You'll need to address that as you won't want him protecting Fitzpatrick or Young from the beasts in the NFL at RE.

    Adam Levitre is the class of the unit with a 90 overall rating.

     

    Defensive Line

    The Bills' D-Line can really bring the pressure. Mario Williams was a huge pick-up and he's set to make his mark with an overall rating of a 97.

    On the other side, Mark Anderson is solid with a rating of 81 overall. Up the middle the Bills are just as good.

    Kelly Williams is a stud with his 90 overall rating at DT.

     

    Linebackers

    Only Nick Barnett sticks out from this group. The former Packer has an overall rating of 89. The other players in this unit don't crack the 80-mark in overall rating.

     

    Defensive Backs

    This secondary is pretty good and depending on the growth of rookie Stephon Gilmore (77 overall), they could be really good.

    Terrence McGee is the No. 1 corner right now, but Gilmore could push him.

    The safeties aren't spectacular, but they are solid.

    Jairus Byrd is the best of the duo with an overall rating of 87.

     

    Special Teams

    I like the Bills' specialists on special teams.

    Rian Lindell is rated an 85 overall, Brian Moorman is even better with an 88 overall, and the return men are dynamic.

    Smith and Spiller can be a major problem for you or your opponents.

AFC East: Miami Dolphins

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    Top Rated Dolphins Players

    LT, Jake Long—95 overall

    RE, Cameron Wake—93 overall

    MLB, Karlos Dansby—91 overall

     

    Quarterbacks

    The Fins have a dilemma at QB, and if you play with them in Connected Careers, you will too. Should you start the rookie Ryan Tannehill or should you go with the veteran Matt Moore?

    If you're playing with existing injuries on, David Garrard may not be available for you to chose. No matter the combination of QBs to consider, there is still no clear choice.

    Tannehill is the lowest rated of all three at this point.

    He only has a 74 overall rating, but if you're looking to the future—as you would have to be to control the Dolphins—you may want to get him experience to increase his ratings.

    Moore (78) has a slight edge over Garrard (77) in overall ratings, so this is a tough one. I'd go with Tannehill in Connected Careers and Moore if you dare choose the Fins for online play.

     

    Running Backs

    The Dolphins have the play-making ability of Reggie Bush at their disposal. He has an 84 overall rating, but his 95 speed rating and 97 in acceleration make him a weapon.

    I would have liked to see Daniel Thomas rated higher than a 74 overall, but it didn't happen. Still, he's a decent backup for Bush.

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight End

    Chad Johnson makes the release date roster as Chad Ochocinco (76 overall rating), but he'll be remove with the first roster update.

    Brian Hartline is the highest rated receiver with a meager 77 overall. Tight end Anthony Fasano is the highest rated option for whomever you choose to be your QB.

    He has an overall rating of 81 and that will make him a popular target.

     

    Offensive Line

    This is all about Jake Long.

    He is perhaps the best LT in the NFL with his 95 overall rating. Pickings are slim on the Fins' O-Line from there.

    Second-year center Mike Pouncey is already rated an 80 overall, so he has upside. But the rest of the Fins' protection leaves a lot to be desired.

     

    Defensive Line

    I love Cameron Wake, but Connected Careers coaches must note that even though he's only been in the NFL for three years, he's 30 years old.

    That could still lead to an earlier retirement than you expect.

    He is a beast on the game, though. He has an overall rating of 93, and he's one of the premier pass-rushers. 

    The Dolphins tackles are awesome.

    Randy Starks (89 overall) and Paul Soliai (87 overall) combined to be a force up the middle.

     

    Linebackers

    Karlos Dansby is a standout at MLB. He has a 91 overall rating.

    Kevin Burnett is rated an 81 overall at ROLB and with the Fins potentially dominant D-Line, this group can swarm to the ball effectively.

     

    Defensive Backs

    Vontae Davis is the best player in the secondary with an overall rating of 88. But Miami's problems in this unit are at the safety positions.

    Neither Reshad Jones (74 overall) or Chris Clemons (75 overall) are at the 80-mark in overall rating.

     

    Special Teams

    You could always put Bush back for punt and kick returns if you want a spark in the return game. But Davone Bess and Clyde Gates aren't too bad as options.

    The kicking specialist are pretty good for the Fins as well.

    Dan Carpenter is rated an 81 overall and Brandon Fields is one of the NFL's best punters at 89 overall.

AFC East: NY Jets

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    Top Rated Jets Players

    CB, Darrelle Revis—99 overall

    C, Nick Mangold—97 overall

    LT, D'Brickashaw Ferguson—90 overall

     

    Quarterbacks

    You can carry on the QB drama with the NY Jets at home. Will you stick with Mark Sanchez (80 overall), or go with Tim Tebow (77 overall).

    The answer is simple for me, I would go with Tebow.

    His 81 speed rating, combined with his ridiculous 86 trucking rating makes him an awesome threat to run with. Sanchez's edges are not significant enough in the passing areas for me. 

    Plus, I wanna see the image above on my TV screen.

     

    Running Backs

    Shonn Greene is the feature back, but he's not overly impressive with an 82 overall rating. His 93 trucking won't exactly offset his 86 speed, but the position isn't a total loss.

    The fullback John Conner is a decent blocking fullback at a 78 overall rating. Greene's primary backup is the speedy (93) Joe McKnight, but his overall is just a 73.

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

    The Jets' receivers are slightly better than the RBs.

    Santonio Holmes has an 85 overall rating, and thankfully his lack of chemistry with Sanchez won't shine through on the game.

    Dustin Keller is one of the game's better tight ends with an 85 overall, but things get thin from there.

    The Jets will miss the likes of Plaxico Burress and Braylon Edwards. Chaz Schilens is the other starter and his 74 overall rating will have some opponents doubling up on Holmes and Keller.

     

    Offensive Line

    The Jets still have studs on the O-Line. Nick Mangold is rated a 97 overall and D'Brickashaw Ferguson an 80. Even Brandon Moore is rated an 89 overall at RG.

    The Jets need some speed at RB to take advantage of their O-Line.

    I'd consider playing McKnight more.

     

    Defensive Line

    Gang Green isn't supposed to have an underwhelming defensive line, but they do on Madden 13.

    Much will be required from rookie LE Quinton Coples. He is starting out rated a 75 overall, but he does have a rating of 80 in speed.

    He could blossom in Connected Careers, but in one-off games the Jets will have trouble getting pressure on the QB.

     

    Linebackers

    The Jets' LBs are a strong unit, but they are a little old. Only one of the four starters is under the age of 30.

    That said, only Bryan Thomas (79 overall) has an overall rating below 80.

     

    Defensive Backs

    This secondary is pretty awesome.

    When you have a cornerback rated 99 overall that is a good start.

    Darrelle Revis is maxed out in his overall rating, but the loud-mouth Antonio Cromartie is strong as well with an 85 overall rating.

    I felt LaRon Landry's rating should have been a little higher than 83, but he's still a force at free safety. He brings it with a 91 speed rating.

     

    Special Teams

    McKnight is a better than average option as a return man, but the kicking specialist are below average.

    Nick Folk (72 overall) and T.J. Conley (68 overall) won't scare anyone with their kicking or punting abilities.

AFC East: New England Patriots

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    Top Rated Patriots Players

    QB, Tom Brady—98 overall

    TE, Rob Gronkowski—97 overall

    WR, Wes Welker—95 overall

    LG, Logan Mankins—95 overall

    DT, Vince Wilfork—95 overall

     

    Quarterbacks

    Brady is the second-highest rated QB on the game, but he's getting up there. If you live in a state with no team allegiance, or you just want the team most ready to win a Super Bowl now, the Patriots are the team to pick in the AFC.

    Brady's greatness has a lot to do with that.

    He doesn't have anything lower than an 88 in any stationary throwing categories. He's only rated a 75 throwing on the run, but nobodies perfect—except Aaron Rodgers.

    Brian Hoyer is the backup, and there are 25 ratings points separating he and Brady. The 73 overall rating wouldn't sound so bad if Brady wasn't so good.

     

    Running Backs

    Patriots' opponents should be happy they don't have a dominant RB, things would truly be unfair. Danny Woodhead is the highest rated player in the backfield with an 82 overall.

    Newly acquired Joseph Addai adds some depth, but he's long in the tooth for a RB, and he's only a 77 overall.

    New England isn't spectacular here, but then again they don't have to be.

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

    Tom Brady has the most dynamic set of targets on the game, period. The Patriots are the only team with two receivers/tight ends in the top 10. Gronk is rated a 97 overall and Welker a slightly overrated 95.

    If that wasn't enough, tight end Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Lloyd are both rated 88 overall. This is absolutely sick, and you should expect to see this time online a lot.

    The Pats third and fourth options would be the best WR/TE on almost half the teams in the NFL

     

    Offensive Line

    It's bad enough that Brady has so many options to throw to, but this group is going to give him time to make the right choice.

    Not one player in this unit is rated beneath an 80 overall. 

    Logan Mankins (95 overall) and Barry Waters (91 overall) are beasts at guard. Oh my God, if this team had a stud running back they would be the greatest offense in Madden history.

     

    Defensive Line

    Besides RB, this is the weakest aspect of the Pats' team. Only Vince Wilfork stands out, but boy does he stand out.

    He's rated a 95 overall and with his 96 strength rating he requires some extra attention if you want to to run his way.

     

    Linebackers

    Jerod Mayo is the class of the group.

    He is rated a 90 overall, and no starter has a rating lower than 83.

    They aren't exceptionally fast as a group, but they all tackle well. None of them have a tackle rating lower than 90.

     

    Defensive Backs

    Devin McCourty helps the team by playing corner, but the secondary isn't overly impressive. I think Kyle Arrington got slighted a bit with his 79 overall rating.

    He was tied for the NFL lead in INTs in 2011 with seven.

    Patrick Chung is at strong safety with an overall rating of 85, but the Pats could use an upgrade over Steve Gregory at free safety.

     

    Special Teams

    Woodhead is a better return man than he is running back, in my opinion. The team could improve there, but it isn't exactly a weakness. 

    The kicking games are tight, though.

    Zoltan Mesko (83 overall) and Stephen Gostkowski (87 overall) can both carry the load of their positions.

AFC North: Cincinnati Bengals

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    Top Rated Bengals Players

    WR, A.J. Green—91 overall

    LT, Andrew Whitworth—91 overall

    DT, Geno Atkins—93 overall

     

    Quarterbacks

    The Bengals are in a good place at QB, especially if you're looking at them as a Connected Careers team. Andy Dalton is going into his second year, but he's already rated an 83 overall.

    Once his awareness rating (77) starts to rise, his overall will follow.

    Bruce Gradkowski is a decent backup because of his speed (70), but his overall rating of a 73 certainly doesn't create a QB controversy.

     

    Running Backs

    Without Cedric Benson the Bengals turn to BenJarvus Green-Ellis as the feature back. If I were controlling this team in a Madden Connected Career I wouldn't be satisfied with that.

    Green-Ellis is rated an 82 overall with an 84 speed rating, and there is no reason to believe he will improve in your subsequent seasons.

    Bernard Scott is a quicker alternative. He has a 93 speed rating, but his 77 overall doesn't discourage you from finding a more dynamic player at RB.

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

    Green is a stud, and he may have deserved to be amongst the top 10 WR/TE. As it is, the 89 overall is still impressive after just one year in the NFL.

    The 94 catch rating and 96 jump is what red zone fade routes are made for.

    Jermaine Gresham is a solid option at tight end with an 81 overall rating, but the second receiver will be a problem.

    Jordan Shipley was recently released and picked up by the Bucs, per Brian McIntyre of NFL.com and once the rosters for Madden reflect that Green and Gresham won't have a solid third weapon with them.

     

    Offensive Line

    Andrew Whitworth anchors a very solid Bengals' O-Line with a 91 overall rating. This is part of the reason Dalton had such a successful rookie season.

    From left-to-right these guys are solid,

    The only player on the line with an overall rating less than 80 is rookie RG Kevin Zeitler (75 overall). His ratings will likely rise in Connected Careers.

     

    Defensive Line

    Carlos Dunlap (85 overall) is the highest-rated D-Lineman, but he is currently backing up Robert Geathers (79 overall) at LE.

    I would definitely change that.

    The tackles are solid ,lead by Geno Atkins. The third-year pro has an overall rating of 93, and because he's only 24 years old, that could definitely be on the rise.

     

    Linebackers

    The best way to describe the Bengals' linebackers on Madden 13 is fast and steady. Thomas Howard, Rey Maualuga and Manny Lawson are all rated an 83 or 82 overall.

    Each of them have above average speed as well: Lawson is rated an 89 in this department, Maualuga an 80 and Howard an 87.

    Running wide may not be a good strategy against this team.

     

    Defensive Backs

    If Leon Hall is healthy, the Bengals could rival the Cowboys and Eagles at cornerback depth and excellence on Madden 13.

    Hall has an 89 overall rating, Nate Clements an 87 and former Cowboy Terrence Newman an 82. Don't forget rookie Dre Kirkpatrick who is starting off with a 75.

    The safeties aren't as highly rated, but Reggie Nelson (92 speed rating) and Taylor Mays (95 speed rating) bring the common factor with this Bengals' defense: speed.

     

    Special Teams

    Brandon Tate is a factor in the return game. He has a 95 speed rating, and a 98 overall rating as a return man.

    Mike Nugent's overall rating of 81 makes him a solid kicker, and Kevin Huber is average as the team's punter with a 75 overall rating.

AFC North: Cleveland Browns

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    Top Rated Browns Players

    LT, Joe Thomas—97 overall

    CB, Joe Haden—92 overall

    MLB, D'Qwell Jackson—90 overall

     

    Quarterbacks

    Colt McCoy is rated one point higher than Brandon Weeden, 75-to-74, but I'd go with Weeden. The team's overall rating is a 67, and if you're using them in Connected Careers, you may as well look towards the future.

    Even if your rookie QB is 28 years old.

     

    Running Backs

    This is one area the Browns are set up nicely on offense. Rookie Trent Richardson is already rated an 83 overall, with a 95 trucking rating. His overall is sure to grow as the season progresses.

    The Browns have Montario Hardesty as the backup, and he has a 71 overall rating.

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

    If Josh Cribbs is your best receiver there is a problem. Cribbs has great ability as a return man, but as a receiver he's only rated a 76 overall.

    Benjamin Watson is the highest rated passing option, but he's just rated a 77 overall. This unit needs help badly. We'll see how long before Josh Gordon is added to the roster. 

    But it'll take some time before he's rated high enough to change this bottom line.

     

    Offensive Line

    Aside from Joe Thomas, there isn't much to brag about with this unit. Thomas is rated a 97 overall, and that is the highest overall rating for any LT in Madden 13.

    The problem here is that center Alex Mack (88 overall) is the only other player rated above the 80-mark on the O-Line.

     

    Defensive Line

    I like the Browns' defense a lot.

    All of the players haven't reached their full potential yet, but it's coming. One such player is Jabaal Sheard (84 overall rating). He is only 23 years old, but he is already a quality starter.

    Frostee Rucker (81 overall) and Ahtyba Rubin (88 overall) help to make up a formidable defensive line.

     

    Linebackers

    D'Qwell Jackson is one of the more underrated players in the NFL. Madden 13 has him rated at 90 overall, and I think it's justified.

    The rest of the Browns' linebackers aren't as good, but Jackson is tackling machine in the middle of the field.

     

    Defensive Backs

    Joe Haden is the next great cornerback in the NFL, in my opinion. EA Sports has already given him a 92 overall rating. Sheldon Brown is solid at the other corner with an 82 overall.

    T.J. Ward is the third standout player in the Browns' secondary. Despite only being in the NFL two years, Ward is already rated an 86 overall.

    This is an exciting defense to play with.

     

    Special Teams

    Phil Dawson (88 overall) yes, Reggie Hodges (66 overall) no.

    Dawson is like Old Faithful as he continues to be a quality placekicker, but Hodges is below standard as a punter.

    Cribbs is one of the three best kick and punt returners on Madden 13.

    He is rated a 99 overall in this role.

AFC North: Baltimore Ravens

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    Top Rated Ravens Players

    DT, Haloti Ngata—98 overall

    FS, Ed Reed—97 overall

    RG, Marshal Yanda—96 overall

    ROLB, Terrell Suggs—96 overall

     

    Quarterbacks

    Is Joe Flacco a better QB than Jay Cutler? I'm not so sure about that one, but he is rated one point higher than the Bears' QB.

    Flacco received an 89 overall rating which was heavily boosted by his throwing power being rated a 95.

    The Ravens are set at the starting QB position, but if Flacco goes down prepare for a huge decline. Tyrod Taylor is only rated a 68 overall and that will be an issue.

     

    Running Backs

    Ray Rice is one of the game's best RBs with a 95 overall rating. He has Vonta Leach as a blocking back in front of him, and his overall is a 92.

    Leach scores big in all run-blocking ratings: 87 in awareness and a 90 in run-block.

    This is a devastating rushing attack.

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

    Anquan Boldin (87 overall) and Torrey Smith (80 overall) are a nice complement of starting receivers.

    Smith is the burner with a 95 speed rating and a 97 in acceleration, while Boldin is the possession receiver with a 90 in awareness and an 88 catch rating.

    Ed Dickson is a serviceable tight end with a 77 overall rating, and the Ravens have an underrated offense.

     

    Offensive Line

    This is a very solid unit.

    Marshal Yanda is the best player here with a 96 overall rating, but the old veteran at center, Matt Birk is rated a 90 overall.

    No Ravens O-Lineman is rated lower than an 82 overall.

    Match these guys with Ray Rice and you have a stud running game.

     

    Defensive Line

    The Ravens' defensive line is in transition—except for Haloti Ngata. Ngata is rated a 97 overall and he's one of the 10 best defensive players in Madden 13.

    No other Ravens' D-Lineman is even rated an 80 or higher overall.

     

    Linebackers

    You can't say the words Ravens and linebacker without thinking about Ray Lewis. Once you pop in your copy of Madden 13, the speech he gives will make you want to run up a hill.

    Madden 13 is still paying much respect to Lewis, as he received an overall rating of 94. Some will argue that is too high for the 37-year-old, but I don't think so.

    He has a 99 awareness, which I dare anyone to dispute and that has a lot to do with the overall.

    This unit is definitely going to feel the loss of Terrell Suggs—if you keep pre-existing injuries on.

    He's rated a 96, but without him rookie Courtney Upshaw (71 overall) starts in his place.

     

    Defensive Backs

    Ed Reed received a 97 overall rating and the ball-hawking safety keeps the Ravens with a dominant player at every level of their defense.

    Lardarius Webb is a near shutdown corner with a 91 overall rating.

    The Ravens' defense is still a force to be reckoned with.

     

    Special Teams

    Sam Koch is a monster punter.

    He has a 92 overall rating, only Shane Lechler of the Raiders and Andy Lee of the 49ers have a higher overall rating at the position.

    That is a great weapon for a team with a dominant defense. 

    David Reed handles the kick return duties, and he's decent but not devastating in that regard.

AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Top Rated Steelers Players

    SS, Troy Polamalu—97 overall

    QB, Ben Roethlisberger—95 overall

    ROLB, James Harrison—93 overall

     

    Quarterbacks

    Big Ben is an elite QB on Madden 13.

    His 95 overall rating is boosted by his 85 strength rating, 97 toughness and 74 trucking rating. If you choose the Steelers as your team, you're good at the starting QB spot.

    Byron Leftwich is the best of three backup QBs on the squad. He has a 75 overall, and he could fill-in for Ben if he has to miss a game or two.

     

    Running Backs

    Rashard Mendenahll is the highest-rated at an 86 overall, but his injury rating is an 81. That could lead to you leaning on Isaac Redman in Mendenhall's stead.

    Redman is only rated a 77, and only an 86 in speed. The Steelers need a more dependable and durable back.

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

    Mike Wallace has a contract dispute, and he ought to show the Steelers his Madden ratings to gain leverage.

    Wallace is an 89 overall with a mercurial speed and acceleration ratings of 99. He also has an 85 catching rating.

    Don't worry Mike, EA Sports knows how good you are.

    Antonio Brown got paid, and his 85 overall rating is an indication as to why. Heath Miller rounds out a formidable top three options for Roethlisberger. The veteran tight end has an 84 overall rating.

     

    Offensive Line

    The Steelers' O-Line is nowhere near as solid as it has been in the past. The great thing about this unit is that they are so young.

    Willie Colon is the elder statesman at 29 years old.

    When you consider the ages of the linemen, and their ratings: Maurkice Pouncey (85 overall rating, 23 years old), David DeCastro (82 overall rating, 22 years old), and Marcus Gilbert (78 overall, 24 years old) the future is bright for this group.

    If you're looking at this from a Connected Careers standpoint, this should be an attractive team.

     

    Defensive Line

    The Steelers 3-4 defense has two standouts on the D-Line. Casey Hampton (87 overall) is solid at NT, but he is 35 years old and Brett Keisel (87 overall) is just as good at RE, but he's 33 years old.

    It will be time to inject some youth into this unit soon.

     

    Linebackers

    Say what you want about James Harrison, he gets to the QB.

    Madden 13 has him rated a 93 overall, and it is warranted. He is the best player on perhaps the game's best LB unit. 

    LaMarr Woodley (91 overall), Lawrence Timmons (87 overall) and Larry Foote (79 overall) are a nasty group.

     

    Defensive Backs

    Ike Taylor is blazing fast (95 speed overall), but I almost dropped my controller when I saw that he was rated an 88 overall. 

    I believe that is way too high for him. 

    His awareness rating should have been like a 70 instead of an 83. This unit is all about Troy Polamalu, though.

    You won't get any argument from me about his 97 overall rating. He's one of my favorite players to control in the game.

     

    Special Teams

    Antonio Brown is a great return man, he's rated a 99 in this role. Combining that with his receiving abilities and he is one of the Steelers most valuable players.

    The kicking specialist are both just average performers: Shaun Suisham (75 overall) and Jeremy Kapinos (74 overall) won't win you many games, but they probably won't lose many for you either.

AFC South: Indianapolis Colts

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    Top Rated Colts Players

    FS, Antoine Bethea—91 overall

    ROLB, Dwight Freeney—90 overall

    K, Adam Vinatieri—89 overall


    Quarterbacks

    RG3 is getting the most press, but Andrew Luck's overall rating is one point higher than the Redskins' rookie QB.

    Luck is rated an 84 overall, he has an 82 speed rating to go with his ratings of 92 throw power and 88 throwing accuracy.

    Drew Stanton is the backup and he is rated a 70 overall. I'm sure his services won't be needed aside from cases of an emergency.

     

    Running Backs

    Donald Brown isn't an ideal feature back. He has only a 78 overall rating so that could be the next position your target if you take the Colts in a Connected Careers.

    Mewelde Moore is his backup, but his 73 overall rating is sure to decline.

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

    Luck has veteran receiver Reggie Wayne in his arsenal.

    Wayne is still rated a notable 88 overall rating. He has a 97 awareness rating and a 95 in catching. Austin Collie is the second-best passing option, but he's a bit of a drop-off at a 78 overall rating.

    Connected Careers user will want to keep an eye on rookie TE Coby Fleener. He's rated a 75 overall right now, but he will improve over time.

     

    Offensive Line

    This O-Line needs to get better fast. Only the center Samson Satele (83 overall) is rated higher than an 80.

    The Colts don't have a dynamic running back, and they have a precious, rookie franchise QB.

    The O-Line should be the focus of any Connected Careers coach choosing the Colts.

     

    Defensive Line

    The Colts have switched to a 3-4, but luckily the incumbent defensive ends: Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis had the skill-set to switch to 3-4 OLBs.

    As it stands now, the only standout on the D-Line is Corey Redding.

    He's rated an 88 overall.

     

    Linebackers

    Moving Freeney (90 overall) and Mathis (88 overall) to this unit makes it one of the best in Madden 13 The Colts now have two dominant pass-rushers coming off the edge.

    In the middle, Pat Angerer (80 overall and Kavell Conner (73 overall) are a bit of a fall-off, but this is still a bright spot for the rebuilding Colts.

     

    Defensive Backs

    The secondary is a decent unit.

    Antoine Bethea is the star here. He has an overall rating of 91. Both Tom Zbikowski and Jerraud Powers are rated an 80 overall rating.

     

    Special Teams

    Quan Cosby is the best return man on the roster, but he isn't as dangerous as the elite players in this category.

    Adam Vinatieri (89 overall) is one of only four kickers that rank in the top three rated players on his team.

AFC South: Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Top Rated Jaguars Players

    RB, Maurice Jones-Drew—97 overall

    LOLB, Darryl Smith—92 overall

    FB, Greg Jones—91 overall

     

    Quarterbacks

    The QB situation is problematic.

    Chad Henne is rated slightly higher than the incumbent Blaine Gabbert. Henne has a 75 overall rating and Gabbert is rated a 74 overall. The problem is that neither is anything to shout about.

    If you're looking for a challenge in Connected Careers, this could represent the biggest one of all.

     

    Running Backs

    MJD is the top rated RB in the game, but he doesn't have much help on this team.

    Greg Jones is one of the best FBs in the game as well, he is rated a 91 overall. It's clear the Jags best chance at success on offense is in the running game.

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

    The Jags should have better weapons in the passing game this season. Marcedes Lewis is rated an 84 overall at the tight end spot, but the two newest receivers are the biggest improvement.

    The Jags signed Laurent Robinson and he's rated an 83 overall, but the future is Justin Blackmon.

    The Jags' first round pick is rated an 80 overall right now, but in a Connected Careers he could be a force—that is, if you find someone to get him the ball.

     

    Offensive Line

    The solid O-Line that helped MJD lead the league in rushing is back, but the LG spot is a weakness.

    Brad Meeseter (88 overall) and Eugene Monroe (87 overall) are best of the line, but LG Will Rackley (66 overall) is the worst of it.

     

    Defensive Line

    Jeremy Mincey is the best player on the Jags' D-Line. He has an 81 overall rating, but there isn't much in the way of accomplished pass-rushers.

    Rookie Andre Branch may make some noise as your Connected Careers mission impossible progresses, but this isn't a strong suit for the team.

     

    Linebackers

    Darryl Smith is one of the team's best players with a 92 overall rating. This entire unit is a glimmer of hope for the Jags.

    Paul Posluszny (88 overall) is a solid force at MLB and Clint Session (79 overall) is the lowest-rated starter, but he's still a dependable player.

     

    Defensive Backs

    The Jags don't have great safeties, but they have three very good corners.

    Rashean Mathis (87 overall), Derek Cox (85 overall) and Aaron Ross (80 overall) can match up with most receiving corps.

     

    Special Teams

    Josh Scobee is the star of the special teams.

    He has a 90 overall rating, and with the team's difficulty to move the ball in the air, his services are needed frequently.

AFC South: Houston Texans

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    Top Rated Texans Players

    WR, Andre Johnson—97 overall

    RB, Arian Foster—96 overall

    CB, Jonathan Joseph—94 overall

     

    Quarterbacks

    Matt Schaub comes back from his injury in 2011 and he's rated an 89 overall in Madden 13. Schaub has a 79 injury rating, so a solid backup is important if you're going to run with the Texans in Connected Careers.

    T.J. Yates is only rated a 74 overall rating, so that isn't the answer. You may just have to do your best to keep Schaub healthy.

     

    Running Backs

    Foster is the most versatile back in the game. He deserves his 96 overall rating. He has 92 speed and a 96 trucking rating. He is simply a beast, and a weapon that you must utilize.

    The Texans have solid depth at the position. Ben Tate is rated an 84 overall, and that includes an impressive 90 speed rating. This is just part of the reason the Texans offense is so good.

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

    Andre Johnson is still an elite receiver. His 97 overall rating is indicative of his ability. He does have a 86 injury rating, so you'll need some depth if you plan to use the Texans in Connected Careers.

    The problem is the Texans don't have another receiver that can step in as a true No. 1. Kevin Walter is the next highest rated player at the position.

    He's rated a 75 overall, so basically depth at wide out should be a focus of Texans' owners in Connected Careers.

    Owen Daniels is a solid option at tight end. He has an 85 overall rating.

     

    Offensive Line

    Foster must have a solid O-Line to be so effective, right? Duane Brown (92 overall) and Chris Myers (93 overall) are elite, but the rest of the line is average, at best.

    That is even more of a testament to how good Foster is.

     

    Defensive Line

    The Texans have two very good players at DE. J.J, Watt is going into his second-year, but he's already rated an 88 overall. Antonio Smith is on the same level on the right side, as he has an 87 overall rating.

    The Texans' strength on defense starts up-front.

     

    Linebackers

    Brian Cushing (93 overall) and Connor Barwin (85 overall) highlight a formidable group of linebackers.

    Both men are rated an 84 in speed, so they are a very athletic group.

     

    Defensive Backs

    Jonathan Joseph isn't mentioned enough when people talk about the NFL's best corners, but Madden 13 knows what time it is.

    Joseph is rated a 94 overall, and he is by far the best player in the Texans' secondary.

    Danieal Manning is only rated an 81 overall, but his 96 speed rating is a force, especially when he blitzes.

     

    Special Teams

    Manning is also an impact player in the return game. He has a 99 overall rating in this role. Shayne Graham is the Texans' kicker, and he's above average with a rating of 84 overall.

AFC South: Tennessee Titans

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    Top Rated Titans Player

    K, Rob Bironas—96 overall

    RT, David Stewart—93 overall

    RB, Chris Johnson—90 overall

     

    Quarterbacks

    It looks like Jake Locker is the starting QB in real life per ESPN, but Matt Hasselbeck is a whole 10 points better than Locker in Madden 13.

    An 85-to-75 rating is too much to ignore on the game. 

    In Connected Careers you better keep Locker warm because Hasselbeck's injury rating is only a 79. That could press the young Locker into action.

    Either way things could be worse for the Titans.

     

    Running Backs

    Chris Johnson isn't the 99 overall he was in Madden 11, but a 90 overall is nothing to sneeze at. He's still blazing with a 99 speed and 98 acceleration.

    Javon Ringer isn't a terrible backup, but with a 73 overall rating he's no CJ.

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

    Kenny Britt is coming off an injury, but Madden still gave him a lot of respect. He has an 88 overall rating, and the clear No. 1 receiver for the Titans. Nate Washington is rated an 83 overall and he's a solid second receiver.

    Jared Cook, Jr. is a better than average at tight end. He's rated an 82 overall, and with Britt and Washington the Titans have a decent set of receivers to balance the offense.

     

    Offensive Line

    Besides center Eugene Amano (73 overall) every other Titans' O-Line starter is Pro Bowl level. Take a look at these ratings:

    Michael Roos (91 overall), Steve Hutchinson (88 overall), Leroy Harris (86 overall) and David Stewart (93 rating).

    That is one awesome set of blockers for CJ and any other runner fortunate to carry the ball for the Titans.

     

    Defensive Line

    Kamerion Wimbley is a presence at RE.

    He's rated an 88 overall, but the other Titans' D-Lineman are not as noteworthy.

    Jurrell Casey is rated 82 overall at DT, but this unit could use a talent injection.

     

    Linebackers

    This is also not an impressive group.

    Only Will Weatherspoon (83 overall) is rated higher than an 80 overall.

    Witherspoon is a 10-year-veteran so they need Akeem Myers (78 overall and 23 years old) to step up and become a force.

     

    Defensive Backs

    Michael Griffin is a big-hitter, and he's rated 89 overall. I think he deserved more than a 76 hit power rating, but he's still the best player in the Titans' secondary.

    The starting corners: Jason McCourty and Alterraun Verner are young and talented. If their ratings rise from 83 overall and 81 overall, respectively, then the unit will improve.

     

    Special Teams

    Rob Bironas is the best kicker in Madden 13, and he's the only kicker who has the highest overall rating on his team.

    Marc Mariani is an excellent kick/punt returner, and he has earned a 99 overall rating as a return man.

AFC West: Denver Broncos

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    Top Rated Broncos Player

    CB, Champ Bailey—95 overall

    QB, Peyton Manning—93 overall

    LOLB, Von Miller—89 overall

     

    Quarterbacks

    Manning is a future hall of famer and Madden didn't take much from him after his year long lay-off. He's rated a 93 overall and still one of the best QBs on the game.

    His injury rating isn't as bad as one might think.

    It sits at 87, so the risk is there, but it isn't the worse at the position by far.

    EA apparently tried to balance the seriousness of his neck injury with his iron man status prior to 2011.

    Caleb Hanie is his backup so anyone that chooses the Broncos will be praying that 87 holds up.

     

    Running Backs

    Willis McGahee isn't the speed-back he once was, but he's still a solid player. He has a 85 overall rating, but that 86 speed isn't exceptional.

    Knowshon Moreno is the backup, but he is only rated a 76 overall. This is certainly an area in need of improvement for the Broncos.

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

    Demaryius Thomas is the highest-rated receiver on the roster. He has an 81 overall rating, but if things stick to the script, his rating should rise playing with Manning,

    Tight end Jacob Tamme followed Manning to Denver and he's the second-highest rated passing option.

    His 79 overall is just decent, and it's apparent that Manning will have to work his magic with this group of receivers.

     

    Offensive Line

    This group is charged with protecting Manning, but only two of them: Ryan Clady (87 overall) and Chris Kuper (85 overall) are rated higher than an 80 overall.

    Combine that with the lack of a top-notch receiver and this could be a tough Madden season for Manning.

     

    Defensive Line

    Elvis Dumervill is an exceptional pass-rusher. He is rated an 88 overall, but his 84 speed rating is very impressive for a RE.

    Aside from Dumervil the Broncos are void of playmakers on the D-Line.

     

    Linebackers

    The Broncos have two stud OLBs in Vonn Miller (89 overall) and eight-year veteran D.J. Williams (87 overall).

    Both men have the speed to pursue ball-carriers from sideline to sideline.

    They could use an upgrade from Joe Mays in the middle, though.

     

    Defensive Backs

    The safeties for the Broncos are not very good. They will miss Brian Dawkins a ton, but Champ Bailey is still one of the best corners in the league.

    He has an overall rating of 95, and on the opposite side of him is Terry Porter.

    He's rated a respectable 80 overall.

     

    Special Teams

    Matt Prater (85 overall) and Britt Colquitt (81 overall) make up a solid set of kicking specialists.

    The Broncos don't have a dangerous return man. This is a product of a general lack of speed on the team.

AFC West: San Diego Chargers

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    Top-Rated Chargers Players

    FS, Eric Weddle—95 overall

    QB, Philip Rivers—92 overall

    K, Nate Kaeding—92 overall

     

    Quarterbacks

    Philip Rivers got a bit of a gift rating with his 92 overall. He set a career high in INT (20) and fumbles (7), but he did throw for 4624 yards.

    Thus the elevated rating, but it seems reputation played a role.

    Charlie Whitehurst is his backup, and his 73 overall rating doesn't scream capable replacement. Luckily you probably won't need him.

    Rivers has a 98 injury rating and a 97 in toughness.

     

    Running Backs

    Ryan Mathews is not what you would call durable. He does have an impressive 87 overall rating, but his 71 injury rating is definitely not ideal. 

    The Chargers do have other backfield options. Le'Ron McClain is a FB, but he has some abilities as a ball-carrier. His overall rating is an 81, and he has an 87 trucking rating.

    Mathews backup is the veteran Ronnie Brown. He has a 77 overall rating, but he has had injury issues as well. His injury rating is just a 75.

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

    Antonio Gates is the primary option. He has a 91 overall rating, and without Vincent Jackson he could see even more action.

    The Chargers still have a solid set of receivers. Malcolm Floyd is rated an 82 overall and newly signed Robert Meachem is rated an 80.

    This team shouldn't have an abundance of troubles moving the ball through the air.

     

    Offensive Line

    Overall, this is a pretty sharp O-Line.

    Center Nick Hardwick is rated a 90 overall, and he is the clear anchor for the line.

    It's a young group as Hardwick is oldest starter at 30 years old.

     

    Defensive Line

    The D-Line needs a playmaker.

    Antonio Garay is the highest-rated player with an 82 overall, but the Chargers don't have a special player in the group.

    They need a run-stuffing, elite DT to ignite their run defense.

     

    Linebackers

    This is a veteran set of LBs with Shaun Phillips (88 overall) being the highest rated. Phillips, Takeo Spikes (85 overall) and Jarret Johnson (84 overall) are all over the age of 30.

    This isn't a group that will be together for a long time.

    If you have the Bolts in Connected Careers you need to find young players to replace these veterans.

     

    Defensive Backs

    Eric Weddle's 95 overall rating makes him one of the highest rated free safeties on Madden 13. Weddle tied for the NFL lead in INTs in 2011, and he is a solid tackler, so he deserved the high rating.

    Antoine Cason (86 overall) and veteran Quentin Jammer (84 overall) make up a solid cornerback tandem

     

    Special Teams

    The Chargers have an elite kicking team. Nate Kaeding is rated a 92 overall and the punter Mike Scifres is rated a 91.

    Eddie Royal is a very dangerous return man. With such highly rated kickers and return man, this is one of the most deadly special teams units in the game.

AFC West: Kansas City Chiefs

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    Top-Rated Chiefs Player

    ROLB, Tamba Hali—95 overall

    CB, Brandon Flowers—93 overall

    MLB, Derrick Johnson—92 overall

     

    Quarterbacks

    This is Matt Cassel's show without Kyle Orton in Kansas City. Cassel is only rated an 80 overall, but his backup is Brady Quinn so he shouldn't be pressured.

    Quinn is rated a 72 overall rating and his 75 throwing accuracy makes it hard for you to play him. 

     

    Running Backs

    Jamal Charles is back from injury and he has received a ton of respect from Madden 13. He is rated a 91 overall with a 97 in speed and acceleration. The injury rating of 84 will make Chiefs' gamers a little nervous.

    Charles' backup is Peyton Hillis, and together they bring a nice thunder and lightning dynamic. Hillis is only rated an 83 overall, but his 93 trucking rating makes him the best option in short yardage situations.

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

    Dwayne Bowe is the unquestioned No. 1 option. His 91 overall rating is among the highest for a WR in the game. His 90 catch rating and 88 awareness makes him a great red zone option, 

    Steve Breaston is the other starter with a 79 overall rating. Kevin Boss is the tight end and he has a 77 overall rating.

    Boss is a huge target but he doesn't have the speed (73) to stretch the defense up the seam.

     

    Offensive Line

    This is another very good O-Line.

    Everything the Chiefs do is setup by the run, and this line is what makes it go.

    The tackles are superb, both Brandon Albert (91 overall) and Eric Winston (91 overall) are among the better OTs in the game.

     

    Defensive Line

    The Chiefs drafted combine freak Dontari Poe in the first round. The rookie is rated a 77 overall, but his 96 strength rating and 73 speed is a product of the show he put on in his combine workout.

    You'll definitely want to watch his growth if you have the Chiefs in Connected Careers.

    Glenn Dorsey is rated an 83 overall, and right now he's the highest-rated D-Lineman on the roster.

     

    Linebackers

    This is an awesome group of 3-4 LBs, Justin Houston is rated a respectable 82 overall, but he is one of the lower-rated players in the unit.

    Tamba Hali gets a much-deserved 95 overall rating. He is an underrated pass-rusher off the edge and it was good to see him get such a high rating.

    Derrick Johnson is also a standout here, as he has a 92 overall rating.

     

    Defensive Backs

    The Chiefs may miss Brandon Carr a little, but they will be alright.

    Brandon Flowers is the top corner with a 93 overall rating. The Chiefs signed Stanford Routt and he's been rated a solid 84 overall.

    Eric Berry is coming off a serious injury, but he and Earl Thomas are the two best young safeties in the NFL.

    Berry has an overall rating of 88, but he is still on the upswing.

     

    Special Teams

    Javier Arenas is a demon in the return game. He has only been given an 88 speed rating, but he has a 94 rating in elusiveness and agility.

    That combination give him a 96 overall rating as a return man.

AFC West: Oakland Raiders

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    Top-Rated Raiders Players

    P, Shane Lechler—97 overall

    K, Sebastian Janikowski—97 overall

    DT, Richard Seymour—92 overall

     

    Quarterbacks

    Carson Palmer's 84 overall rating may be a little higher than he deserves, but some of it is based on what he did in Cincinnati. Palmer did throw more INTs (16) than he did TDs (13) in 2011.

    Matt Leinart is Palmer's back up.

    If one ex-Trojan can't get it done maybe another one can. It's not likely since Leinart has just a 73 overall rating.

    In case you were wondering, Terrelle Pryor is third-string with a 65 overall rating.

     

    Running Backs

    Darren McFadden is an animal—when he's healthy. EA Sports was right to give DMC a 91 overall rating, but they were just as justified giving him a 75 injury rating.

    Michael Bush is gone, but Mike Goodson isn't. He is now McFadden's backup, and the man who could be in action for you if DMC goes down again.

    Marcel Reece is a great Madden option. the fullback has great speed (90) for the position. 

     

    Wide Receivers/Tight End

    Darrius Heyward-Bey is the top-rated receiver in silver and black. DHB has an 83 overall rating, but the 97 speed rating makes him a real threat on the deep routes.

    Denarius Moore is the other starter and he has an 80 overall rating. He's a Raider, so of course he has exceptional speed. Moore is rated a 94 in the quintessential Raiders category.

    Jacoby Ford is another speed merchant at Palmer's disposal. He's rated an insane 98 in speed, but only a 73 in overall rating.

     

    Offensive Line

    The team has a good, but not great O-Line.

    The man that was born to be a Raider Stefen Wisniewski has already reached an overall rating of 82, and he's only 23 years old.

    The highest-rated player in the group is LT Jared Veldheer. He is rated an 88 overall, and he's just 25 years old.

    If you take your Connected Career into the black hole, make sure you lock up the young talent on the line.

     

    Defensive Line

    The Raiders have great interior D-Lineman.

    Richard Seymour is the best position player on the roster. He has an overall rating of 92, and in this his 12th year, he's still a force.

    Tommy Kelly is the other tackle, and he has an overall rating of 86.

    As far as youth goes, Lamarr Houston is a future star. The 25 year old LE is already rated an 85 overall.

     

    Linebackers

    This is an underwhelming group aside from MLB Rolando McClain.

    He is only 23 years old, but he's rated an 85 overall and he's the brightest young star on the Raiders roster.

     

    Defensive Backs

    The Raiders' corners can be had. R

    on Bartell (81 overall) and Shawntae Spencer (79 overall) both lack speed, which is weird to say concerning a Raiders' player.

    The safeties don't lack speed at all, and they are a slight improvement over the corners.

    Tyvon Branch is the best player in the secondary, and he's rated an 89 overall with a speed rating of 95.

     

    Special Teams

    You will never find a better kicker/punter tandem than Sebastian Janikowski (97 overall) and Shane Lechler (97 overall). They are both the top rated players at their positions in Madden 13.

    With so much team speed it's only natural that the Raiders would have great return men.

    Ford is rated a 98 in this role, and he can be especially dangerous on kick-offs.