So we actually got some right this weekend. In fact, if the Ravens hadn’t blown it by dropping some easy passes, we might have had even more predictions turn out accurately. As always, I guess it’s just hard for a game like Madden 11 to sim some of those intangibles such as emotions running high, grit and determination, getting nervous when you know you need to make a big play and so on. But that’s what makes the NFL so much fun to watch, you just never know what’s going to happen from one week to the next, and on any given Sunday, anybody can be the hero or the goat. In any event, our predictions this year are at an all time low 2-6, and but for a few key plays, could have been 3-5. We probably won’t even get to .500 this year, but it’s still been some great football. Here’s how things ended up this weekend.
[Update] Bears 35, Seahawks 24: Gotta give credit to the Seahawks for never giving up in this one, despite being down 28-0 at one point. They never gave up, but they need four quarters of football to win, and they only showed up for two. Cutler had almost exactly the yardage we predicted, we said 280 and he had 274, but outperformed in TD throws with two. He also was able to get 43 yards on the ground and two rushing TDs. Meanwhile Hasselbeck had about 60 yards more passing yardage than we predicted, but he had exactly 3 TDs which is exactly what we said he’d have. Perhaps the biggest surprise in this game was the hero from last week, Lynch, had a grand total of 2 yards in this game. 2? Really? Credit the Bears D on that one, and also the offense for racing ahead and forcing the Seahawks to abandon the run just to keep up. Chicago looked sharp in this one, and if they can keep it up next week against Green Bay, they may be on their way to the Super Bowl.
Chicago vs. Seattle - Bears 24, Seahawks 21:
Those pesky Seahawks just won’t go away. Whether or not they deserve to be in the playoffs, they keep playing like they do. They dominated the first quarter of this game, scoring two TDs in quick succession; one an 11 yard pass for Forsett and one a 19 yard pass to Stokely. Plus, Lynch rumbled for 57 yards in this quarter alone. Fortunately, the Bears were able to regroup in the second, scoring on their first drive of the quarter with a 31 yard TD pass to Knox. However, the Seahawks came right back and drove down the field for their third TD of the half, but Bears weren’t fazed. With steady, methodical drive, Chicago used up the rest of the time in the first half to drive down the field and ended it with a 1 yard TD rush by Cutler. In the third quarter, the Bears defense finally got a handle on that slippery Seattle offense. Despite a Chicago fumble recovered by Seattle, the Bears didn’t let them turn it into points. However, Chicago couldn’t get any offense of their own going either. Finally in the beginning of the fourth, the Bears were able to get close enough for a 49 yard field goal. After forcing the Seahawks to punt, they again put together a time consuming drive that ended with a 1-yard TD run by Forte. With just 30 seconds left, Seattle couldn’t muster enough offense against a suddenly stifling Bears defense to get in range for tying field goal, and the Bears were able to squeak out with a win. Both quarterbacks performed admirably, with Cutler going 23/39 for 280 yards and 1 TD while Hasselbeck went 13 of 20 for 194 yards and 3 TDs. Lynch was a beast again, amassing 104 yards on the ground, but half of that came in the first half, after which the Beard defense found a way to contain him. Both Knox and Bennet for the Bears had over 80 yards receiving, with Knox having a TD while Stokely was the main target for Seattle with 92 yards and TD. The Seahawks just wouldn’t go away, and in this instance, once the Bears defense finally figured out how to contain things, it was mainly a matter of running out of time for the team no one thought belonged in the Playoffs. It was a good run, though.
[Update] Packers 48, Falcons 21: In retrospect, it was kind of silly that Madden 11 predicted the Packers wouldn’t get any points. They just have too many weapons, too may options for Rodgers to throw to. They certainly demonstrated that point amply at the Georgia Dome. Rodgers when 31 of 36 for 366 yards and 3 TDs. That’s astounding. He had four receivers with over 75 yard. Add another 66 yards on the ground from Starks, and the Packers were an offensive machine that put on a clinic for Ryan and the Falcons. Ryan ended the day with 20 of 29 for 186 yards 1TD and 2 INTs. The Falcons had little to no ground game to speak of, and in fact, and little to no offense to speak of. The Packers D shut them down and kept them contained. Toss in 5 sacks, and it was just an all around grade-A effort on Green Bay’s part. Now they head out on the road to Chicago for what may be one of the best NFC Championships in recent memory. If both teams continue to play at the same level, it’s going to be great.
Atlanta vs. Green Bay - Falcons 20, Packers 0:
Perhaps the best thing to happen for the Falcons this season was securing home field advantage throughout the Playoffs; they don’t lose at home. Oh I know they’ve had some close ones, but they find a way to win. One of their closest ones came at the hand of the Packers, who have been surprisingly hit or miss this season. Well in our Madden 11 sim, for some reason the Packers were back in miss mode. They started the game with a promising drive that looked like it would put points on the board when they fumbled the ball, which Atlanta recovered on the four-yard line. However, the Falcons couldn’t do anything with it. Again the Packers moved the ball down the field, but they missed a 55 yard field goal attempt that had plenty of distance but went wide right. The Falcons opened up the second quarter with a 24 yard pass to Gonzalez for a TD, and on their next drive they hit a 38 yard field goal. The Packers tried to get on the board before half-time, but missed another field goal, this one from 46 yards. On the opening drive of the third, Atlanta got into position for a 29 yard field goal, and then got the ball right back when the Packers fumbled the kickoff return. The Falcons wasted little time turning that into points with a 5 yard run by Turner for a TD. Things settled down a bit in the fourth, and again when it looked like Green Bay would score, they missed as Rodgers was intercepted in the endzone. It was a rough end for the uneven Packers. Rodgers went 13 of 22 for 151 yards and an INT, while Ryan went 16 of 27 for 216 yards and 2 TDs. Turner had 68 yards on the ground with 1 TD while Jackson only found enough room for 45 yards on the ground. Tony Gonzalez had another great game with 66 yards and a TD.