Nation & World News

Spoiler Alert? ‘Madden NFL 25′ Predicts Super Bowl Outcome

By Bill Chappell on January 27th, 2014

EA Sports says it has seen the future – and the Denver Broncos will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday, after a thrilling Super Bowl matchup with the Seattle Seahawks. The video game company plugged in the two teams to predict the outcome: an overtime thriller in which the lead changes hands several times.

Before you dismiss the potential for a video game to predict a game played by humans, consider that EA Sports’ Madden game franchise is 8-2 in recent Super Bowl predictions – an effect, we presume, of using exhaustive scouting reports and statistics to mirror the NFL’s flesh-and-blood players as closely as possible.

Another reason not to root against the Super Bowl XLVIII outcome that Madden NFL 25 predicts is that it foresees a back-and-forth “instant-classic” type of Super Bowl.

EA Sports is so confident in its simulation that it uses the past tense to describe the game. Here are some highlights of what the company says we’ll see on Sunday:

The game will have a slow start, EA Sports says, as both teams’ defenses control the action and the offenses are affected by cold and a dusting of snow at the New York Giants’ home stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

But then Richard Sherman, the much-discussed Seattle cornerback, will make his presence known, “returning an interception for a touchdown just before the half and sending the Seahawks to the locker room with the momentum and a 10-7 lead,” the game maker says.

Denver’s offense will get it going after the halftime show, EA Sports says, with a touchdown from the productive duo of quarterback Peyton Manning and receiver Demaryius Thomas, and another from running back Knowshon Moreno.

But Seattle will make a comeback to tie the game in the last minute, powered by running back Marshawn Lynch’s “Beast Mode” heroics, quarterback Russell Wilson, and receiver Golden Tate.

In the end, it will come down to a field goal in overtime to put Denver ahead, 31-28, EA Sports says, adding that the game’s MVP will be Manning, with three touchdowns.

To anyone who thinks its silly to pay attention to a video game’s prediction of a real game, we acknowledge your point. But it’s a good way to fill time before the actual game kicks off. And as Yahoo! blogger Ben Silverman writes, the Madden games have sometimes been “freaky good” at such predictions — even nailing a receiver’s total yards in at least one case (We also thank Silverman for highlighting this story).

If the EA Sports team is right again, Seahawks fans will be feeling low in a week’s time. For now, they can hope the EA Sports prediction is flawed – after all, they can say, the game seems to have omitted the team’s famed “12th Man,” as it calls its fans, from the simulation.

Here in Washington, D.C., where pro football is often discussed in similarly hypothetical terms, we’re hoping the matchup of the NFL’s top offense and top defense is as compelling as it seems on paper.

If you plan to play your own Super Bowl simulation on a home gaming system, you should know that the EA prediction was “created by simulating the Super Bowl matchup with updated rosters on Xbox One,” the company says.

As for the real-life players who will face off on Sunday night, the Broncos and Seahawks teams both arrived in the New York area today.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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