So far the 2011-12 NFL season has been full of surprises. Teams are exceeding expectations, such as the 5-0 Detroit Lions and the 4-1 Buffalo Bills. Many teams have been underperforming as well, like the 1-4 "Dream Team" Philadelphia Eagles and the 2-3 New York Jets.
Madden NFL 12 was released August 30th. It had no way of knowing that Fred Jackson would be third in total rushing or that a rookie tight end from the University of Miami (Jimmy Graham) would have the fourth most receiving yards.
In Madden, players receive ratings based on their skills related to their position. All of the individual skill ratings are then compiled to give one overall rating.
Now that five weeks of the NFL season have passed, I compared players performances in real life versus their Madden overall rating.
The purpose of this comparison is to show who is underperforming in comparison to their Madden overall rating. Just because a player is on this list doesn't mean that they are a bad player, it simply means that their performances recently have not justified their Madden overall rating.
With that said, let's begin.
I fully expect to be bashed in the comments for this selection. Yes, I know that he is throwing for seemingly 500 yards every week and that the Patriots are 4-1, but hear me out.
Brady is surrounded by playmakers that consistently make big gains after the catch. Wes Welker is playing like he did before his knee injury and is one of the premier offensive threats in the game. While Brady may pass for gaudy numbers, give his receivers some credit.
Remember that this is the same offense that made Matt Cassel look like an elite talent.
However, the main reason for Brady being on this list isn't because his receivers are talented, but rather due to his performance in the Patriots loss to the Bills in Week 3. Having a rating of 99 overall carries a big responsibility and Brady performed well below his potential in that game. He tossed four interceptions which undoubtedly led to the Bills win.
While Brady is clearly an elite player, a rating of 99 predicts very good—if not near perfect—play; his showing in Week 3 was well below that.
New Rating: 97
This one should take less convincing.
After the Dallas Cowboys parted ways with Roy Williams, Chicago signed him to be a veteran presence in a young receiving corps, provide a big target in the red zone for Jay Cutler and contribute as a solid No. 2 receiver.
Things have not panned out the way the Bears planned. Williams has caught six passes for 81 yards in five games and has yet to register a touchdown. He has largely been a non-factor throughout the season and he is showing no signs of picking up his production anytime soon.
The Detroit Lions got the most out of Williams and it didn't involve his production on the field. They traded Williams to the Dallas Cowboys in 2008 for a first-, third-, and sixth-round pick. That first-round pick eventually became Brandon Pettigrew, Matthew Stafford's security blanket.
New Rating: 72
Boy were they wrong.
McNabb's struggles started in the very first game of the season, in which he completed 7 of 15 passes for a whopping 39 yards.
While he hasn't replicated passing statistics that low, he has struggled mightily in the second half of games, suggesting that his conditioning may not be up to snuff or he is simply getting old.
Whatever the reason, the fact remains that he has completed only 50 percent of his passes for less than 350 yards and one touchdown in second halves this season.
New Rating: 77
I grew up loving University of Michigan football, so I'm saddened to see Manningham performing so poorly this season. The truth is that Manningham has been more like "Average Mario" than "Super Mario."
Manningham entered the season as the Giants number two wide receiver and has already been benched twice. Unheralded rookie Victor Cruz has outperformed him consistently this season and looks to be the Giants number two receiver soon.
Manningham's coach has called him out for poor route running and sloppy execution of basic drills. His stats this year seem to back that up, with Manningham failing to exceed 56 receiving yards in a game.
He has 13 receptions and zero touchdowns this season.
New Rating: 76
I couldn't single out one player for this selection because the whole unit has failed.
Coming into the season, the offensive line was regarded as one of the Rams' strengths. They had only allowed 34 sacks in Sam Bradford's rookie season and seemed ready to protect the franchise's biggest asset.
So far this season, Bradford has been sacked 18 times through four games. This is already over half of the total sacks the offensive line allowed last year.
Bradford is currently on pace to be sacked 72 times, four less than the 76 sack record set by David Carr and the Houston Texans.
Bradford has already been on the injury report three times this season and if the protection doesn't get better, he runs the risk of being seriously injured and/or not developing as a quarterback.
New Rating: 78-82
The second highest-paid running back has not delivered on his new contract. Chris Johnson was so confident of his talents that he held out of training camp until he got a new contract. For some reason he hasn't been performing up to the value of the new deal.
Johnson has been an afterthought in the Titans surprising 3-2 start. Veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has been the heart of the offense, mainly because Johnson is performing well below his career averages.
He is averaging three yards per carry and has broken the century mark just once (101 yards against the Browns). He managed only 1.6 yards per carry and 21 yards total against the same Denver Broncos that were gashed by Darren McFadden for 150 yards.
Oh, and he only has one touchdown all season.
New Rating: 92
When Philadelphia added what seemed like a million Pro Bowl-caliber free agents, many people were pegging them as the team to beat. Vince Young mentioned that it felt like they were a "dream team."
The start to this season has been anything but dreamy for the Eagles.
They have started 1-4, blowing three second half leads in their four losses. Their only win came against the 0-4 St. Louis Rams.
With a start like this, it may be unfair to put the blame on both the coach and the quarterback, and because coaches don't have Madden overall ratings, the blame falls on Michael Vick.
Vick has not performed horribly this year. He has put up respectable numbers in both passing and rushing categories and is not the sole reason for the bad start.
So why is he on this list? Turnovers and game management.
Vick has thrown seven interceptions in five games, one more than he had in the 12 games he competed in last year. Vick has also fumbled the ball seven times, three of which were lost. He has been committing turnovers at key points in the game and as a quarterback that expects to win in the NFL, you just can't do that.
Game management is also a point where Vick and the Eagles have struggled. The coaching staff deserves a lot of blame because they are calling the plays, but Vick is the quarterback and thus has the most control on the game. He needs to be able to run down the clock when they have a lead in the second half.
New Rating: 89