Madden NFL 17 says the New England Patriots will defeat the Atlanta Falcons 27-24 in Super Bowl 51 on Sunday, making Tom Brady the only quarterback with five Super Bowl rings.
EA Sports' annual prediction, strikingly accurate over its first seven years but batting .500 the past six, once again calls for a nail-biter conclusion: Pats receiver Julian Edelman hauling in the go-ahead touchdown on a 4th-and-4 pass with 20 seconds left.
The simulation says Brady will be named MVP with 30 completions in 39 attempts for 305 yards passing, and all three Patriots touchdowns. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who has helmed an otherworldly offense coming into the Super Bowl, is predicted to throw for 287 yards, two touchdowns, and the game's lone interception. The Falcons' All-Pro wideout Julio Jones gets 89 yards receiving, but most of that is on one play, and he won't reach the end zone, says Madden.
Madden NFL's Super Bowl simulation has morphed from amusement to conversation piece to legitimate betting information since being introduced with Super Bowl 38 in 2004. Madden NFL 15 predicted the exact final score of Super Bowl 49, an enormous publicity coup for the EA Sports flagship.
Still, Madden NFL 16 bit the dust hard last year, calling for a 27-24 Carolina Panthers victory over the Denver Broncos. Denver in fact won 24-10. That dropped Madden's record picking the winner straight up to 9-of-13. Madden's predictions also are 8-5 against the betting spread — good, but no sure thing given the sample size.
Last year, Madden also missed the over/under (calling over at 43.5 points) after hitting it in the previous four Super Bowls. Madden has whiffed on the straight-up pick, the betting spread and the over/under three times: Super Bowl 42 (New York vs. New England), Super Bowl 45 (Green Bay vs. Pittsburgh) and last year.
Madden NFL's simulation is admittedly unscientific: a single CPU versus CPU game run on a console with the same software you can buy and play in your home. And those who consult video games for betting information should seek professional help immediately. But after a hot start, EA Sports is 3-3 calling winners over the last six Super Bowls, which suggests it got a hot start at a crap table more than it possesses Jimmy the Greek Snyder levels of sports handicapping.
Super Bowl 51 is on Sunday, on a television network, sometime in the early evening ET. A singer will perform at halftime and another one will do the national anthem. There will also be some commercials.