The usually reliable Madden NFL Super Bowl sim was pretty far off the mark. It predicted a game so close it went into overtime. Instead we got a 43-8 blowout, amazing considering the Broncos had the league’s no. 1 offense.
The game’s post Super Bowl update lifts the Seattle Seahawks to a 92 overall, while the Denver Broncos dip to a 90. Taking the final score of the game into account, that’s very generous. Denver cornerback Champ Bailey’s rating dropped three points to an 88 overall. If he returns for the 2014-15, it’s very likely he will switch to safety.
There are a million things a computer can’t predict. A safety on the first play of the Super Bowl is one, as it has never happened before. You could almost hear Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day” playing in the background.
But the true culprit here is something all over sports media since the big game. The consensus among journalists including ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio and ESPN’s Chris Mortensen is that the NFC as a whole is significantly better than the AFC.
It’s risky to place too much significance on one game, especially since the AFC won in 2013. But these power imbalances happen from time to time. During the NFC”s longest period of dominance, it won 12 straight Super Bowls. I’m not predicting anything like that happens here. But if it does, shouldn’t the AFC have its ratings adjusted accordingly?
If one conference loses 12 straight Super Bowls, even its best team should be ranked in the 80s. Mid to high 80s, but you have to make some adjustments for quality of opposition. During the NFC’s last period of dominance, video game publishers largely ignored the obvious talent gap. The team that won the AFC could expect a rating of at least 90, regardless of how little chance it had of winning the championship.
The NFL never admits these competitive problems, no matter how obvious they may be. I don’t expect Madden NFL to challenge the league narrative here either. Winning the AFC is good for at least a 90 rating, no matter how badly you get whooped in the Super Bowl.
But competitive players figured out in August the Seattle Seahawks were the class of this game. At least 50 percent of my opponents use them, and LeSean McCoy won the Madden Bowl with them.
I see the San Francisco 49’ers almost as much. The Denver Broncos show up a lot less often, unusual for such a popular team.