For as excited as football fans get about the start of the NFL season, it can be argued that the release of Madden 15 is equally anticipated this year.
While the video game doesn't hit shelves until Aug. 26, EA Sports has offered a sneak peek in the form of releasing player ratings. Football purists take the ratings quite seriously, so there is always plenty of debate regarding how well or poorly certain players are rated.
Madden gets their ratings right more often than not, but gamers will always find a reason to debate. With that said, here is a closer look at three players who received controversial ratings and will certainly be under the microscope as the release date approaches.
On the heels of a Super Bowl-winning season, perhaps it shouldn't come as a big surprise that Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is getting plenty of love from Madden. With that said, Wilson's value is intangible in many ways compared to other passers, which caused many eyebrows to be raised when his generous rating was revealed.
According to EASports.com, the Wisconsin and NC State product is a 93 overall, which places him behind only future Hall of Famers Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Madden ratings czar Donny Moore explained that Wilson's all-around skill set contributed heavily to his high rating:
Being 5'11" doesn’t hurt Russell Wilson one bit in the Madden NFL 15 ratings. He is the ultimate dual threat with his 86 SPD (ranked eighth in NFL for QBs), 90 AGI (seventh), 92 ACC (second), and 93 Throw Power. Don't be afraid to throw it deep (89 Deep Accuracy, ranked third) and on the run (fifth) with Wilson as well, he can do it all.
All of that is certainly understandable, but ratings are largely predicated on statistics. Wilson wasn't bad at all in that regard last season, but his numbers didn't jump off the page either. Wilson ended the 2013 campaign with less than 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns. That is top-10 worthy, but top five may be a bit much.
The greatest controversy surrounding Wilson very well may be the fact that he is tied with one of the all-time greats at 93 overall. He has the same rating as New England Patriots signal-caller Tom Brady, which came as a big surprise to NFL.com's Patrick Crawley:
Brady may not be the same quarterback he once was, but he still managed to have a strong 2013 season and lead his team to the AFC Championship Game despite dealing with key injuries on both sides of the ball.
Wilson's rating isn't overly egregious on its own, but the fact that he has been put on equal footing with Brady is probably the toughest thing for fans to wrap their heads around.
Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake has developed into one of the NFL's most feared linemen since joining the team from the CFL in 2009. He has 51.5 sacks in 77 career games, but Wake is coming off somewhat of a down year as he racked up just 8.5 in 2013 after getting to the quarterback 15 times in 2012.
Wake is the No. 3-rated defensive end in Madden 15 at 96 overall behind only J.J. Watt and Robert Quinn, per EASports.com. That puts Wake above several elite defensive ends who made a bigger impact than he did last season, including Cameron Jordan, Muhammad Wilkerson, Greg Hardy and Mario Williams, among others.
Although Wake didn't play poorly last season by any means, he wasn't as dominant as he has been in past years. In many ways, it seems as though Madden rewarded Wake on his full body of work rather than using the 2013 season as a barometer.
Wake could very well go on to have a huge 2014 campaign and prove Madden right, but as of right now it is difficult to argue with the notion that he was the beneficiary of a higher-than-expected rating.
A case can certainly be made that wide receiver Steve Smith is deserving of induction into the Hall of Fame at some point down the road. He has had a fantastic career and outperformed even the wildest of expectations pundits had for him when he entered the league. With that said, there is little doubt that the 35-year-old veteran's best days are behind him.
After spending 13 seasons with the Carolina Panthers, Smith will play for the Baltimore Ravens in 2014. The change of scenery may be beneficial, but Smith is coming off one of his worst seasons. He caught just 64 passes for 745 yards and four touchdowns in 2013 despite being quarterback Cam Newton's top outside target.
Smith's rating isn't necessarily exorbitant at 87 overall, according to EASports.com, but he is another case of someone who is living off his past successes. His 2013 numbers are more deserving of a rating in the low 80s than an 87, but perhaps Madden expects him to rebound.
His quarterback this season will be Joe Flacco, who is capable of making some plays down the field. At the same time, though, he is extremely inconsistent and Smith is more of a possession receiver than a speed burner at this juncture. Even though Smith deserves plenty of credit for what he has accomplished, that shouldn't have much bearing on his current rating.
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