The 5 Zaniest and Most Ludicrous Predictions From the Madden NFL 23 Simulation of the 2022 NFL Season
In the grand scheme of things, the NFL preseason is essentially meaningless. Sure, it means something to those trying to make the roster and players and coaches adjusting to new schemes or new teams. And, yes, it is always nice to have football back.
For the most part, however, NFL fans spend this time of year worrying about their fantasy football draft, and folks like me start predicting how the regular season will play out. And, of course, this time of year also marks the release of the new Madden NFL video game.
It’s on those last two things where we’re putting our focus today.
For the last few years, our pals over at Yahoo Sports have used the new edition of the wildly popular game to simulate the upcoming NFL season, and they’ve done so again with Madden NFL 23. After looking at the results, there are some things with which I’d agree.
But as you’d expect, there are some wildly ridiculous predictions in there, five of which I’ve chosen to essentially bash.
So let’s get to it, shall we?
Both of last year’s Super Bowl participants — the Rams and Bengals — will miss the NFL Playoffs
According to the simulation, both of last year’s title game participants, the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals, will miss the NFL postseason this year. Sure, I could see both teams regressing a touch this year, but it seems highly unlikely that both will miss the playoffs.
If either does, it will likely be the Rams, who play a demanding schedule in 2022. The NFC West may not be what it was a season ago, but it will still be competitive. Russell Wilson being gone helps. But it’s not as if they won’t see him as LA squares off with the AFC West this year, which could end up being the strongest division in football. And the Rams open with a challenging game against the Buffalo Bills.
In addition, they’ve got conference matchups with strong NFC opponents in the Green Bay Packers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Dallas Cowboys. The simulation has the Rams at 9-8, which might not be too far off.
But I’m certainly not on board with the Bengals going 8-9 — not with the talent they have on that roster and not with the schedule they play. Sweeping their AFC North schedule is a real possibility, and they’re the clear favorite to win that division. Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens could be a handful, but they’ll at least split those games. And they’ve also got matchups with the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, and Atlanta Falcons this year.
So even if they don’t win the division, they’re likely looking at an 11-6 mark for a wild-card spot.
The New York Jets will win the AFC East
The New York Jets winning the AFC East may be the most absurd result to come out of this Madden simulation. Zach Wilson & Co. are predicted to go 11-6 to take their first division crown since 2002.
You think Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills might have something to say about that?
Another ridiculous prediction is the Cleveland Browns winning the AFC North, although it was noted that the simulation didn’t take the Deshaun Watson suspension into account. And that obviously changes everything. Again, look for the Bengals to win that division.
As for the others, they’re not nearly as laughable.
To finish off the AFC, the Indianapolis Colts (more on them in a minute) are predicted to win the South, while the Kansas City Chiefs are the pick in the West.
In the NFC, the simulation says the Dallas Cowboys win the East, the Green Bay Packers win the North, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win the South, and the Arizona Cardinals win the West. Not too bad there, right?
As for the wild-card teams, all of whom had either an 11-6 or 10-7 record, the AFC representatives are the Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens, and Bills, while the New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, and Philadelphia Eagles round out the NFC bracket. That’s a lot of confidence in the NFC South, isn’t it? Even the Falcons are predicted to go 8-9, which seems like a stretch.
The Indianapolis Colts go 16-1
Yes, you read that correctly.
Led by Matt Ryan, who’s predicted to complete 69% of his passes for 4,492 yards and 41 touchdowns, the Indianapolis Colts are slated to be the top seed in the AFC with a 16-1 record.
Do I really even need to get into that? Spoiler alert: The Colts will not go 16-1. Yes, they will challenge the Titans for the AFC South title and may even win that division, but they’re not losing just one game. Indy has plenty of winnable games on the schedule, but not 16 of them.
The funny part of the simulation — well, another funny part — is that despite the 16-1 mark, the Colts don’t go to the Super Bowl as they lose the AFC Championship Game.
Dak Prescott breaks the NFL records for passing yards and touchdowns, wins MVP, and takes the Cowboys to the NFC Championship
Of every prediction on this list, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott winning NFL MVP may be the most feasible. It seems a touch unlikely given the competition he’ll face, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility. The issue is his predicted numbers for the year and how far he’ll take Dallas in the postseason.
The Madden simulation says Dak will throw for 5,649 yards, breaking Peyton Manning’s 2013 record by 172 yards. That would also break Prescott’s personal single-season best of 4,902 yards, which he set in 2019.
In addition, Prescott is predicted to throw 57 touchdown passes, which would break Manning’s 2013 record by two. That’s 20 more than Dak’s personal best of 37, which he set a season ago. Furthermore, he’s slated to complete 72% of his passes. That’s more than a three-point jump from the 68.8% completion rate he put up last year — also his personal best.
Look, assuming he stays healthy, Prescott will have another good year. But not that good as his receiving corps isn’t nearly as strong as it was in 2021. The phrase “video-game numbers” exists for a reason.
The simulation also says Dak will lead Dallas to a 12-5 record, which is possible, and then to the NFC Championship Game, which is a bit more of a stretch as the Cowboys haven’t gotten past the Divisional Round since their last Super Bowl run following the 1995 season.
But Dallas isn’t predicted to reach the Super Bowl as Dak & Co. lose to the eventual champs.
The New Orleans Saints win the Super Bowl
As previously mentioned, new head coach Dennis Allen is predicted to lead the New Orleans Saints to a wild-card berth. And that’s certainly possible.
But the simulation gets out of control in the postseason as the Saints are projected not only to reach the Super Bowl but also to actually win it. And their opponent? That would be Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. This is the fourth straight year the Madden simulation has put Andy Reid’s bunch in the title game. That’s obviously a definite possibility.
The Saints? Not so much.
Still, not only is New Orleans projected to win the Super Bowl, but the game also isn’t even close as the Saints come out on top, 34-14. And the game’s MVP? None other than Tyrann Mathieu. That’s right, the Honey Badger leads his new team over his old team in the home stadium of the Arizona Cardinals, his original team.
One has to wonder what putting 20 bucks down on that scenario would pay out, am I right? But I could say the same for the vast majority of these scenarios.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference