[Update] So the Petyon Manning era has begun in Denver, and from the looks of it, things really haven’t changed much…. if you don’t count the fact that he has a new team… with new teammates… and new coaches… in a new city… and so on. But aside from all of that change, Peyton Manning pretty much looked like his old self against the Steelers, and things turned out remarkably similar to our Madden NFL 13 sim of the game. How similar? Well:
Broncos 31, Steelers 19 - First of all, the score was pretty darn close to what we predicted. Our Madden NFL game ended with with Broncos winning 31 - 21. The Steelers were just a two-point conversion away from making that a reality, although the Broncos had a couple opportunities of their own to score more points. As for how virtual Manning compared to the real Manning, Peyton went 19 of 26 for 253 yards and 2 TDs. That’s pretty close to the 18 of 26 for 221 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT predicted in our Madden game. Other elements, however, weren’t quite as close. McGahee didn’t have the 150 yards rushing predicted, although he did pretty well, and it was Big Ben that threw the one pick in the game instead of Manning. And Thomas got the biggest chunk of receiving yards instead of Tamme as in our sim. Still, Madden NFL 13 did a pretty good job of giving us an idea of what the start of the Manning era in Denver will look like. How will he fare when the Broncos head off to Atlanta to face the explosive Falcons? Tune in later this week to find out.
Football is back! The 93rd season of the NFL is here, and I couldn’t be happier. Of course, with the return of football comes the return of our weekly series to see just how accurate and realistic the Madden NFL game can be. Madden NFL 13 has plenty of improvements to make it one of the best editions ever, but does it more accurately reflect the real game? Well, this year we’re going to track the return of Peyton Manning to find out. Each week, we’ll sim the games with Madden NFL 13, and then compare our stats with the real stats. Will Peyton Manning return like he never left? Can he lead the Broncos to the promised land of a another Super Bowl? Just what will Manning do (WWMD)? Join us each week to find out.
I don’t think the NFL was particularly kind with the first game of the season they set up for the Broncos. The Steelers return to Mile High after the unconventional and upstart Tim Tebow led the Broncos to an unexpected win in the first round of last year’s playoffs. So now the Steelers return, but the Broncos are a different team. Can the new Broncos, led by future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, do the same thing the unpredictable Tebow-led Broncos were able to do and beat the Steelers? Manning’s still adjusting to new surroundings, new teammates, new coaches, new everything, and his first game is against the Steelers! It’s going to be a tough test, especially if he can’t win when Tebow did. So how does Madden 13 predict things will unfold? Well…
1st Quarter - Things start off a bit slow for both teams, which you would expect for the first game of the season. However, after a couple of three and outs, the Broncos take control with a steady, consistent drive that eventually ends with McGahee rushing into the endzone on a 16-yard scamper. So far, so good, right?
2nd Quarter - The Steelers get the ball back at the start of the 2nd, and waste no time at all. Somehow they get behind the Denver’s secondary and Brown hauls in a 76-yard TD pass. Just like that, the game is tied. However, Manning settles things down with another long, consistent, time-consuming drive. With lots of short completions and some good running from McGahee, the Broncos get into the end zone with a 1-yard run from McGahee right before the two-minute warning. The Steelers started their march in the other direction, but they fumbled the ball and Broncos recovered. Making the most of the opportunity, Manning led his team down the short field and hit Dreessen with a 1-yard pass for a TD to wrap up the first half.
3rd Quarter - The Broncos got the ball to start the second half, and their first drive stalled, forcing them to settle for a 37-yard field goal. Then the Steelers took just one play to score. Again, a receiver got behind the secondary, and Roethlisberger hit a wide open Wallace for a 78-yard TD pass.
The Broncos tried to respond, but their drive soon ended in the end zone as Manning thew a terrible pick.
4th Quarter - With just a quarter left to play, the Steelers worked their way within three as their next drive ended with a 6-yard TD pass to Wallace. The pressure was now on Manning for the Broncos to hold on to the ball and use up some time. Fortunately, they went one better, with Manning hitting Tamme on a 35-yard TD pass with under two minutes to go.
The Steelers got down the field just fine, but with time against them, they went for it on a fourth and goal and didn’t convert. The Broncos took over, and with just a few seconds left, ran one play, used up the rest of the clock, and walked away with the win.
Final Score: Broncos 31, Steelers 21
Now, I have to admit I played this game rather conservatively. Lots of runs from McGahee, lots of short to medium range passes. The Steelers D is tough, and truth be told, no video game can simulate Manning’s smarts, so I did the best I could. Manning ended the game with 18 of 26 for 221 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT. Meanwhile, thanks to those big plays, Big Ben had 333 yards and 3 TDs. His ability to get behind Denver’s secondary has me a bit worried. McGahee had a solid day on the ground, with 150 yards on 22 carries and 2 TDs. Denver’s D did do one thing right, they smothered Mendenhall and the Steelers’ running game (which wouldn’t be good for my fantasy team). Meanwhile, Wallace raked up 165 yards receiving and 2 TDs, while Manning’s top target was tight end Tamme with 8 catches for 104 yards and 1 TD.
All in all, a good win for the Broncos. They have one of the toughest schedules in the league, so to start with a win is huge. To start with a win over the same team that Tebow was able to beat is probably even bigger. We’ll see what the real Manning will do in this same situation. Be sure to check back Monday.