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Madden NFL 18 predicts Super Bowl 52: Patriots vs. Eagles

Once again, it comes down to the final play

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Madden NFL 18 predicts a 24-20 Super Bowl victory for the New England Patriots over the Philadelphia Eagles, which would give this year’s cover star, Pats quarterback Tom Brady, a sixth world championship ring.

In EA Sports’ simulation — which is a CPU-versus-CPU game with current rosters on All-Pro difficulty — New England is trying to salt away the victory when the Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins strips the ball from running back Dion Lewis. Philadelphia, trailing by four, gets the ball back with 1:44 left, apparently deep in its own territory.

Quarterback Nick Foles, who took over when starter Carson Wentz was injured in week 14 of the season, gets the Eagles to about midfield. In what appears to be a Hail Mary pass either because it’s fourth down, or because there’s no time for another play, Foles’ heave for Alshon Jeffery is batted away by Patriots defensive back Stefon Gilmore, sealing the 24-20 result.

EA Sports’ simulation, in what may be a bit of stagecraft, has called for a dramatic ending in every Super Bowl since videos began accompanying its predictions seven years ago. Here’s what Madden has predicted over that span.

  • 2011: Interception with 20 seconds left, 24-20 final.
  • 2012: Field goal as time expires, 27-24 final.
  • 2013: Interception of a Hail Mary as time expires, 27-24 final.
  • 2014: Snow (in the Super Bowl’s first cold-weather, open-air stadium), overtime and a 31-28 final.
  • 2015: Hail Mary touchdown as time expires, 28-24 final.
  • 2016: Five-yard TD run on the last play from scrimmage, 24-20 final.
  • 2017: Go-ahead touchdown on fourth down with 20 seconds left, 27-24.

In the pre-video era, the Madden simulation was 6-for-7 picking winners. Video era, it’s gone 4-3. In fairness to EA Sports, the Madden sim did predict the 2015 Super Bowl’s final score, a 28-24 New England triumph over Seattle. And the 2015 and 2017 Super Bowls in real life delivered two of the big game’s most thrilling conclusions ever.

Since the simulation began in 2004, Madden NFL is 10-4 picking winners straight up and 9-5 against the point spread. It is 8-6 picking the over/under — with most of that success coming in the video era. Madden NFL is 5-2 in that stretch, with its five hits coming between 2012 and 2016.

Super Bowl 52 is Sunday, Feb. 4, at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

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