After a long, eventful offseason, football is back and with it comes the annual release of EA Sports’ ‘Madden NFL’ video game. With the game hitting shelves this week (and Colin Kaepernick’s name officially back in the soundtrack), we are, once again, simulating an entire NFL season to determine just how accurate ‘Madden’ really is.
Here are 19 takeaways from Yahoo Sports’ simulated season:
The Jaguars were definitely not a fluke – A year after surprising the entire football world and nearly beating the Patriots in the AFC title game, Jacksonville not only got over that hump, but it also won the Super Bowl, defeating Philadelphia 13-7.
It wasn’t all bad for Philly – Sure, the Eagles lost in the Super Bowl, but they won the NFC East and conference for the second year in a row. On top of those accomplishments, Carson Wentz took home the league MVP award, throwing for more than 4,100 yards and 42 touchdowns.
Tom Brady was probably robbed – While Wentz’s team had a better record (13-3 vs 12-3-1) the 41-year-old Brady’s statistics were better (4,839 yards, 44 TDs, 14 INTs). We’d have given the MVP to Tom Terrific.
All good things come to an end – Despite his astonishingly good (virtual) season, Brady did decide to hang ‘em up. In addition to Brady, Eli Manning, Marshawn Lynch, Terrell Suggs, Brandon Marshall, Larry Fitzgerald, and Frank Gore called it a career.
Bolt of energy – In his second year as the Chargers head coach, Anthony Lynn led Los Angeles to a 13-3 record, winning the AFC West and being named NFL Coach of the Year in the process. Philip Rivers and Jatavis Brown also took home hardware, being named AFC Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year (‘Madden’ hands out awards for each conference)
Youth movement in Buffalo – Josh Allen and Tremaine Edmunds won the Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year awards, respectively.
Speaking of rookie QBs – Baker Mayfield essentially split time with Tyrod Taylor (more on him later), putting together a respectable line of 2,181 yards, 15 TDs, and 7 INTs. Fellow rookie QBs Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold did not see significant action.
End of an (elite) era in Baltimore – While most expect Joe Flacco to hold onto the starting QB job this season, in ‘Madden,’ the Ravens wasted no time going to Lamar Jackson, who threw for more than 3,800 yards and 25 TDs.
Gronk’s still got it – In what appeared to be a down year for receivers, Rob Gronkowski led all pass catchers with 106 receptions and was the only one to top the century mark. Demaryius Thomas led in receiving yards (1,291) and Brandin Cooks in TDs (13)
Black hole for QBs – Khalil Mack swallowed up everything in opposing backfields, leading the league in sacks with 20.5 and finishing with a solid 12 tackles for loss for Oakland’s top-ranked defense.
Beasts of the East – Led by the Eagles, the NFC East was the best division in football, featuring three teams with winning records: Philadelphia, Washington (11-5), and Dallas (9-7). The Giants rounded things out, finishing 3-13 for the second season in a row.
Barkley a bust? – While most are projecting Saquon Barkley to be a game-changing, generational talent at running back, the Giants rookie finished with 342 rushing yards. He did account for significant production in the passing game, adding 605 yards through the air.
Lions coast to division title – The NFC North was absolutely brutal, with Detroit being able to win the division easily with a 9-5-2 record. No other team had a winning record.
You like that? No. – Despite signing Kirk Cousins to lead the offense, Minnesota finished 29th in the league and went from a 13-3 record in 2017 to a 5-11 one in 2018. Cousins finished with his lowest yardage (3,150) TD (18) and completion percentage (54%) since becoming a full-time starter.
Jimmy G stays hot – The 49ers QB led San Francisco to the playoffs for the first time since the 2013 season. Garoppolo finished with 4,097 passing yards, 25 TDs and 10 INTs.
Cleveland rocks – The Browns finished with an 8-8 record, tying Pittsburgh for the best mark in the AFC North. It also represented the biggest turnaround in the league after finishing 0-16 in 2017.
Brees bests Manning, Favre – The Saints QB jumped into first place on the NFL’s all-time passing yards list, finishing the season with 4,259, bringing him to 74,704 for his career. His 37 TDs in 2018 brought him to 525, just 14 away from Peyton’s all-time mark of 539.
Taylor heads back to the AFC East – With Brady retiring, New England turned to an old rival to take his place, signing Tyrod Taylor to a 3-year, $50.3 million contract in the offseason.
OBJ gets his wish – Despite having a down year (60 receptions, 774 yards, 4 TDs), the Redskins made Odell Beckham Jr. the highest-paid receiver in NFL history, signing him to a 4-year, $97.6 million contract ($24.4M annually).
More from Yahoo Sports:
• Dez Bryant reportedly not interested in joining Browns
• Pat Forde: Rally supporting Urban Meyer should shame Buckeye Nation
• Chris Mannix: With LeBron gone, Celtics and Brad Stevens ready to seize the East