For over a decade, Electronic Arts has been predicting a Super Bowl winner by running the two participating teams through its Madden NFL game. One would think the results would be hit or miss, but the simulation has proved remarkably accurate over the years, with the AI-controlled game correctly amassing a 10-4 record. Will that record improve to 11-4 with Super Bowl LII? That depends on whether the New England Patriots can stave off quarterback Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles.
Madden NFL 18's prediction is in, and according to the sim, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (known as the GOAT around these parts) will collect his sixth Super Bowl ring yet another gritty nail biter, this time emerging victorious with a final score 24-10. Unlike last year's Super Bowl, however, Madden NFL 18 doesn't foresee another historic comeback, and instead it simulated a last minute drive by the Eagles that stalls out with a spectacular defensive play in the end zone.[embedded content]
The simulation also has Tom Brady winning an record fifth MVP award after racking up 342 passing yards and connecting on three touchdowns, marred only by a single interception. Rob Gronkowski, coming out of the NFL's concussion protocol after absorbing a dirty hit to the helmet in the AFC Conference championship, will lead all receivers with 107 yards on four receptions, one of which goes for a touchdown.
Whether it all plays out that way remains to be seen, though Madden NFL has been eerily accurate many times in the past. It even correctly predicted the final score in Super Bowl XL1X, simulating a 28-24 tally in favor of the Patriots that turned out to be accurate when the Seahawks opted not to run the bowl at the goal line. And that was the only surprisingly accurate prediction. Madden NFL also called the following:
- The exact final score (28-24).
- Brady passing for 335 yards and 4 touchdowns (Brady finished the game with 328 yards and 4 touchdowns. The sim missed by only 7 yards).
- New England would trail 24-14 in the third quarter before staging a comeback.
- Julian Edelman scoring the game-winning touchdown pass and Edelman finishing as the Patriots' top receive with eight catches for 106 yards (Edelman ended the Super Bowl with nine catches for 109 yards).
Crazy, right? Madden NFL has also correctly identified the point differential in three Super Bowls, and has come close in many others.
That said, nobody should take this information and to Las Vegas with cash in hand, hoping to score a big payday. But EA does deserve kudos for designing a simulation and ratings system that oftentimes plays out similarly to real life. That is no easy task, given all the variables that comes from participating in a team sport.
Super Bowl LII is scheduled for Sunday, February 3 at 6:30 PM (Eastern). Tune in to see if Madden NFL 18 can extend the franchise's prediction record, or watch just for the funny commercials.