A couple weeks ago EA Sports rolled out their newest football simulation "Madden NFL 12" at E3, an annual video game conference in Los Angeles that showcases all of the new and upcoming games that companies have to offer.
While Madden failed to blow gamers away with any improvements or new features, it is safe to say Madden will once again be a top-selling game come August.
When it comes to St Louis Rams fans, Madden has been flat out depressing over the last three or four seasons. Their rating was a very accurate reflection of the team: dreadful. As the St Louis Rams are on the rise however, so is their virtual counterpart.
Of the team, here are the 10 players that you'll find yourself putting your trust in more often than not.
Josh Brown has been a huge weapon for me over the past couple seasons. Drives that stall just inside the 40-yard line are still fairly manageable positions to walk away with points from.
Also, if you have any ability at all at kicking, chances are you'll be able to force touchbacks on at least half of your kickoffs.
Make no mistake, Brown is a weapon.
OVR - 88
KP - 98
KA - 85
It's always fun to use new weapons, and pass-rushing is so ridiculously easy in Madden that speed rushers are almost unfair.
Robert Quinn was regarded by many to be the best speed-rusher in the 2011 draft and having him on the field will be a joy for those who like to take control of linemen.
I guarantee the popular Madden strategy with Quinn will be to drop him back and use him in a Demarcus Ware-type role, but chances are rushing to the outside of the tackle then quickly slipping to the inside will wreak havoc on the opposition.
The fact that he should have the speed to catch some of the faster quarterbacks will be nothing short of legendary.
OVR - 78
SPD - 77
FMV - 85
When used correctly, tight ends are incredibly dangerous in Madden. For some reason they always seem to have an upper-hand against safeties and linebackers alike, and the more athletic ones are just downright terrors.
Lance Kendricks brings to the table an attractive blend of speed and size that will present a trustworthy target in the redzone and in short-yardage situations. His rating won't blow you away, but if you use him right you'll find plenty of success.
OVR - 72
SPD - 81
CAT - 80
Oh hey online opponent VbPlaya11, you think forcing me to punt inside my own 20-yard line gives you a field position advantage?
Meet the left leg of Donnie Jones.
OVR - 95
KP - 99
KA - 93
Fun Fact: Danny Amendola was rated 67 overall when Madden '11 came out.
After emerging as the Rams' biggest threat in the passing game, expect Madden to accurately portray him that way in August. He doesn't have dazzling speed, but his agility and catching abilities are arguably the best in the entire NFC West.
His ability mixed with Bradford's arm should allow gamers to have a field day picking apart defenses. He is the kind of player that will leave your opponent screaming "HOW DOES HE KEEP GETTING OPEN!"
Enjoy Rams fans, I know I will.
OVR - 82
CAT - 88
AGL - 90
Separate fun fact: Mardy Gilyard had the highest 'catch' rating on the entire roster in last year's game.
If you play Madden in a style similar to mine, then you understand how crucial speed is. Avery's 95+ speed will make him a dangerous weapon in the passing game: allowing for plenty of opportunity for success via deep routes, quick slants, underneath routes, drag routes, and sweeps.
He won't have a top-ten rating, but if you use him right, he will be one of your most dangerous weapons.
OVR - 75
SPD - 95
AGL - 90
When Madden '11 first came out, I was shocked by Chris Long's rating. At a mere 75 overall, I felt he was drastically underrated.
His rating began rising as the season went along however, and by the final roster update he was a very effective pass-rusher. In Madden NFL 12, Long should be flat out nasty to use.
His rare blend of speed and power will create matchup hell for the opposition. Those who enjoy pass-rushing, here is a tip: close your eyes and go crazy with the right thumbstick, you'll find your way to the quarterback.
OVR - 85
PMV - 85
FMV - 80
I remember when I first started playing Madden, Tony Banks was the quarterback of the St Louis Rams and it was just awful. Seeing as how I was only about six or seven, I was also awful at the game and having Tony Banks as my QB was all the more frustrating.
Then along came Kurt Warner on a golden steed and gave Rams' fans the passer they'd been waiting for. Soon enough, it became a common occurrence for the Rams to have a strong passing game. Once Warner left, Marc Bulger came in and performed well enough in real life to keep the Rams' virtual passing threat alive.
Then, well...Marc Bulger decided to make like a weed and tumble. It was a rough couple years for Ram fans who enjoyed Madden. At first Bulger was skating by on his previous accomplishments, but eventually the EA designers wised up and realized that this Marc Bulger fellow was probably done being an above-average QB.
In Madden 10, I immediately traded away Bulger for a lower-rated, higher-potential Matt Flynn, hoping the real life Rams would eventually supply me with a passer fit for an Air-Raid style of play.
Enter Sam Bradford.
Bradford wasn't great in 2011, but he was unbelievably accurate. Throwing on the run was now an option (Bulger had the legs of a lineman) and I found myself having a very easy time picking apart opposing defenses using the Heisman winners' strong arm. The best part is, he will be even better in Madden '12. Oh boy I can't wait.
OVR - 86
THP - 89
THA - 92
Whilst playing football, regardless of whether it is virtual or not, it helps to have a do-it-all type player that you can rely on to come up with play after play. For the Rams, that guy is James Laurinaitis.
Most players prefer to take control of the DE and abuse the crap out of the right thumbstick until they make it their opponents QB. The more advanced players however prefer to linger in the middle of the field, read the play, adjust accordingly, and prevent the play from taking shape, usually using the MLB.
While Laurinaitis won't be delivering bone-rattling hits like Ray Lewis, his tackling and pursuit ability will prevent the offense from having much success on plays involving the middle of the field.
OVR - 89
TKL - 97
PUR - 96
SJax doesn't need much of an introduction. Over the past couple seasons he has been the only offensive threat the Rams have had in reality and virtual reality.
His blend of speed, power, and agility has always sent opponents into fits of rage. There have been times in Madden where he almost appears impossible to take down.
While many speculate he may be approaching the point in his career where he begins to see a drop in production, there is no reason to think he won't be a dominate force in Madden '12.
OVR - 94
AWR - 95
TGH - 96
What is your favorite team/player to use in Madden? Are you on the fence when it comes to purchasing Madden NFL 12? Leave a comment and converse with fellow Ram/Madden fans.
If you are interested in getting a game in on Xbox Live when Madden NFL 12 comes out just let me know. My gamertag is :Nooooovak."