Tonight we’ll watch a game in which the winner gets sole possession of top spot in the NFC West just one week before the season’s halfway point, with the Seahawks traveling to San Francisco.
But when I sat down to simulate this game today using Madden 13 there were more pressing questions at hand. Why does Alex Smith hate Vernon Davis so passionately? Is it possible for one team to control the ball for nearly an entire half (almost, yes)? Does Phil Simms speak English?
So come with me, and let’s go on another meandering, nonsensical journey through virtual football that will have no bearing whatsoever on tonight’s proceedings. Or will it?
As usual, we went with nine-minute quarters, and let the Madden weather randomizer do whatever it pleased. It turned out to be a pleasant evening in virtual San Francisco.
As you already know, real NFL referees will make their triumphant return tonight in Baltimore when the Ravens take on the Cleveland Browns. That’s right folks; it’s the most anticipated game of the entire season! OLD BROWNS VS. NEW BROWNS! THE DOG POUND VS. A BUNCH OF BIRDS FROM AN EDGAR ALLEN POE POEM!
Am I overselling it just a bit? Yeah? Well the truth is, I don’t really care about this game, but it’s the one that Archi Zuber and I will be simulating. As was suggested last week, we will be extending the lengths of the quarters (nine minutes instead of seven), and we’ve decided to set the skill level to “pro”. All-Madden defense just seems to smother any offense, no matter how many weapons they have at their disposal.
I’ll admit last week’s Madden simulation was a complete disaster. In the eyes of the internet, Archi Zuber and I were no longer considered a couple of handsome Nostradamuses who also happened to be time traveling wizards. Instead they called us frauds. Many pundits started to question our time traveling abilities, with some even claiming that we weren’t even wizards. One of them even had the audacity to say that I wasn’t really all that handsome. This was the most egregious attack of them all.
It wasn’t our fault, because we wrote a decent script. But Jay Cutler decided he’d go off book, and he ad-libbed his way through one of the worst fantasy games a starting quarterback has had in recent memory. In essence, Cutler was just being true to himself. He had a very good Week 1 against the Colts, so he needed to have a piss-poor game against the Packers so he could restore balance to the universe. It’s hard for me to be mad at Cutler; I should already understand that we don’t live in a world where the Bears QB is allowed to be consistent.
This week’s simulation will feature the New York Giants visiting the Carolina Panthers.
As always, it will attempt to answer a series of questions. With the loss of Hakeem Nicks, how heavily will Eli Manning rely on Victor Cruz? How deep into the fourth quarter will Manning go before he decides he has to win the game himself? Will Steve Smith continue to bathe in the fountain of youth that is Cam Newton?
The waiting is over, and those of you who have been desperately watching the CFL in a vain attempt to fill the football void in your otherwise empty lives finally have something to live for. It’s time to put away your Anthony Calvillo bobble-head, Flutie Flakes, and Pinball Clemons brand “ultra white” dentures, because real football is back*.
Tonight, the NFL regular season kicks off with an NFC divisional matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants. Many questions will be answered, and those answers will create more questions. Will the Giants suffer from a Super Bowl hangover? Can the Cowboys bounce back after a disappointing 8-8 season? Can Tony Romo avoid being sacked 178 times by the deadly pass rush of the Giants? Will Eli Manning continue to solidify himself as a top tier quarterback, while ultimately becoming the superior Manning? Has Romo finally learned how to properly wear a baseball hat?
I can’t answer all of these questions, but I can tell you who will win the game. No, I’m not a time traveling wizard, I don’t own a crystal ball, and I wasn’t given a copy of Gray’s Sports Almanac by an elderly Biff Tannen. I’ve got something better. I’ve got a copy of Madden 13.
My colleague Archi Zuber and I simulated tonight’s game (yeah, it was a two-person job…a TOUGH job), using seven-minute quarters with the difficulty set to All-Madden. The results were staggeringly accurate (or at least I assume they’ll be staggeringly accurate, because video games have never wronged me before. Except Dig Dug. That guy’s an asshole).
Marcus Thomas is pissed about this picture of Marcus Thomas.
NFL players are men trained to sustain the indignities of their existence. Like, say, being loudly chastised by a coach in practice, or worse, through the media. Or much worse, having a penis shaved in your head because you’re a rookie, and rookies need to be reminded of the locker room hierarchy through the use of male genitalia.
There’s also the more routine frailties of the football players’ existence for those in the lower tier, like knowing that on any given week your employment can be terminated because you missed a few assignments or a few field goals. Then when you’re signed by a new team, your family is uprooted, and the vagabond life continues.
There are no complaints regarding these hardships since they’re part of the package for a chance at gridiron glory. But there’s one sacred ground that can never be touched: the Madden profile. When you mess with a man’s profile in any game in the Madden series, you’ve commitment a heinous crime against his character.
Marcus Thomas would not stand for such an injustice, and last night he launched an online campaign against Mr. Madden.
Earlier our boy Scott Lewis made a very special guest cameo appearance as he climbed out from his gaming bunker to review the latest installment in the Madden series. Now gaze upon the glory of the game’s moving pictures, and then promptly contract a disease of some kind which requires immediate attention.
If you have to, break a body part to leave the office early. Preferably a finger or toe, but if your boss is hardcore, then a leg or arm may be necessary.
As another addition to our still somewhat new blogging home (the new car smell is gone now, and oddly in its place is new shower curtain smell), we’ll be using this “Virtual fantasy” category tag throughout the season to simulate the games each week, and to make projections based on fantasy-related storylines. If, for example, Tim Tebow takes over for Mark Sanchez, we’ll simulate that week’s Jets game and provide commentary as we see if virtual Timmay can complete a forward pass with some degree of consistency.
Ultimately, game simulating is a completely arbitrary and meaningless exercise, and providing fantasy projections based on virtually-generated numbers is oh so meta. But it’s fun, and if playing Madden and writing about it is wrong, I’m not sure that I can live in this world much longer.
A genuine criticism of sports video game franchises is that often an installment that features a significant shift in gameplay or backend innovation will signify little in the way of new developments in the following year. It wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that Madden 11 served as a slightly more polished roster update than Madden 10.
Madden 12 worked in some remodeled player animations and pre-game introductions, but it came up short in providing football gamers with the complete experience they are perpetually seeking. Enter: Madden 13. Armed with a new physics engine, a streamlined offline career mode, and the ability to take the dynasty experience online, Madden 13 may just be the most ambitious leap forward that any sports game franchise has ever taken.