Madden Simulations: Wildcard Round

With the Wildcard round of the NFL draft beginning tomorrow, I decided it would be fun to see what Madden NFL 15 thought of these games. I made sure that all depth charts were as up to date as possible. I even combed through them myself to make sure no injured players were in, as well as adding some players in, like Ben Tate and Haloti Ngata. Now, let’s see what Madden thought of this weekends wilcard games. I just want to reiterate that these games and stats are simulated by Madden NFL 15, none of this is related in any way, shape or form to the real NFL Playoffs.

Saturday January 3rd, 4:35 P.M. EST

Carolina Panthers vs. Arizona Cardinals

This was a defensive matchup in Carolina. Neither team could really get anything going on offense. For the home team Carolina Panthers, Cam Newton struggled to move the ball, only completing 52% of his passes for 171 yards. What’s worse? He didn’t throw a single touchdown pass. Jerraud Powers also managed to intercept him once. Carolina’s leading receiver, Jericho Cotchery, only had 58 yards. Kelvin Benjamin was held to under 20. Things weren’t much better for Carolina’s ground game, as Jonathan Stewart was only able to rush for 28 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries before getting injured. Young gun Fozzy Whitaker took over from there but only managed 37 yards on 19 carries.

The good news for Carolina is that, Arizona’s offense wasn’t much better. Arizona quarterback Ryan Lindley was slightly more impressive than Newton in some ways. He completed 68% of his passes for 288 yards, which is far better than what Newton did. Lindley also threw a touchdown, which Newton did not. However, Lindley threw three interceptions, two to Melvin White and one to Thomas Davis. Running back Stepfan Taylor also fumbled, which hurt him especially considering he only rushed for 48 yards. The turnovers were too much for the Cardinals to overcome, even behind Larry Fitzgerald’s 112 yard performance. The Panthers managed to squeak out of this game alive thanks to their lock down defense.

Final Score: Carolina Panthers (19) – Arizona Cardinals (13)

Saturday January 3rd, 8:15 P.M. EST

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens

Fans can always count on divisional games to be close, and that’s exactly the type of game you want to see in the playoffs. Unless you’re a fan of either team that is. This game delivered. The Steelers offense sputtered a bit in the absence of Le’Veon Bell, but Ben Roethlisberger was still able to throw for 355 yards while completing 78 percent of his passes. This would be all good and impressive, if he threw more than one TD and didn’t throw two INT’s.

Joe Flacco’s yardage totals were lower, coming in at 335. His completion percentage was down as well (69%). However, he was able to throw two touchdowns against one interception. The Steelers saving grace, was it’s run game. Well, kind of. Newly acquired back Ben Tate was able to rack up 54 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries, while rookie Josh Harris was able to run it seven times for 12 yards and a touchdown. So, neither was very impressive running the ball, but at least they got the Steelers two touchdowns.

The Baltimore run game was effective as Justin Forsett racked up 78 yards on 19 carries before a shoulder injury knocked him out of the game. Bernard Piece was left to handle the last nine carries of the game. Pierce could only muster up 28 yards. For the Ravens, Steve Smith was able to catch nine balls for 105 yards and a touchdown, while the Steelers had two impressive receiving performances.

Markus Wheaton caught 12 passes for 138 yards, while Antonio Brown hauled in eight for 98 yards. Despite the Ravens low touchdown total, they were still able to rack up points thanks to Justin Tucker. Tucker was 4-5 on field goals, his one miss coming from 53 yards. However, when it really counted, Tucker came through for the Ravens, hitting a 44-yard field goal to take the lead with 30 seconds left in the game.

Final Score: Pittsburgh Steelers (24) – Baltimore Ravens (26)

Sunday January 4th, 1:05 P.M. EST

Indianapolis Colts vs. Cincinnati Bengals

This was bound to be an interesting game. You never really know what you’re going to get with Andy Dalton and, without A.J. Green, people were surely worried about what he can do. Meanwhile, people continue to watch Andrew Luck to see if he can shake up his playoff misfortunes. For one QB, the predictions were pretty accurate. Andy Dalton threw for just 212 yards and no touchdowns, completing 69% of his passes. Granted, he also didn’t throw an interception. As you can probably guess, no receivers had a big day either for the Bengals. Sanu being their leader with only 58 yards. All of the Bengals offense came from it’s run game.

The dynamic duo of Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard lit up the Indianapolis Colts defense at times, but looked lost at others. Starter Jeremy Hill took a solid 20 carries for 74 yards. It was Giovani Bernard though, who made the most of his opportunities. Bernard carried the ball nine times, but accumulated 85 yards and touchdown. Granted most of his stats were from his 60-yard touchdown run to put the Bengals up 13-10 in the third quarter.

Despite this spark from Bernard, the Bengals couldn’t outlast the high octane Colts offense. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck threw for 237 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. The player that really hurt the Bengals though, was speedster Eugene Marquis (T.Y.) Hilton. He racked up 161 yards and two touchdowns, including the touchdown that sealed the deal for the Colts.

Final Score: Indianapolis Colts (24) – Cincinnati Bengals (13)

Sunday January 4th, 4:40 P.M. EST

Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions

The Cowboys were favored going into this game, but I don’t think anybody really knew how close this game would be. It was a shootout for sure. Both quarterbacks threw for over 375 yards and each had at least four touchdowns. Let’s start with the home team, Dallas Cowboys. Tony Romo completed an amazing 73 percent of his passes for 377 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. No, the interception didn’t lose the Cowboys the game.

Romo had two receivers over 100 yards in the game. Dez Bryant had 109 yards and two touchdowns while Terrance Wiliams had 101 yards and one touchdown. DeMarco Murray also chipped in, catching a 27 yard screen pass and bringing it to the house. However, Murray was not his most effective on the ground. They only fed Murray the ball 18 times due to the high scoring nature of the game. He did make the most out of his opportunities though, taking those 18 carries and registering 83 yards.

The Lions’ run game couldn’t really get going either. Reggie Bush had eight carries for 40 yards, while Joique Bell had eight carries for 27 yards. They must have gotten tired of running after Rolando McClain piled up 15 tackles. However, when they stopped running, Stafford threw a pick right to McClain! That was the low light of Stafford’s day though. Other than that, he looked like the best QB in the league completing 69 percent of his passes for 422 yards and five touchdowns. 170 of those yards went to Calvin (Megatron) Johnson, while 114 went to Golden Tate.

Johnson had two touchdown receptions of 79 and 64 yards, while Tate had one for 14 and one for 20. The 20-yard touchdown though, proved to be the most important. With just over three minutes remaining, the Cowboys drove down the field, only to be stopped in the redzone. Dan Bailey kicked an easy field goal and the Cowboys took the lead by six. The Lions then got the ball back, and drove the ball down to the 20 yard line in just a minute and a half. With 30 seconds left and on third down, Stafford took a shot down the field to Tate, who hauled it in, giving the Lions a one point lead. The defense was able to shut down the Cowboys on the next drive, preserving the victory for the Lions.

Final Score: Dallas Cowboys (34) – Detroit Lions (35)

Let’s take a look at what this means for the AFC Divisional Round match-ups:

(1) New England Patriots vs. (6) Baltimore Ravens

(2) Denver Broncos vs. (4) Indianapolis Colts

And the NFC:

(1) Seattle Seahawks vs. (6) Detroit Lions

(2) Green Bay Packers vs. (4) Carolina Panthers

Keep checking back next week for the Madden NFL 15 Simulations for the Divisional Round of the 2015 NFL playoffs.