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Madden takes another shot at predicting the playoffs

January 22, 2010

Madden takes another shot at predicting the playoffs
By Michael Lafferty

EASports’ franchise title tries to rebound lackluster prediction week with championship forecast

 Madden NFL 10 may advertise itself as the most realistic football simulation around, but when it comes to the actual game anything can, and sometimes does, happen. Last week, Madden 10 picked one game right out of four played. The Jets advanced to play Indianapolis – and both were picked to lose the games last week. The only game selected correctly was the Minnesota-Dallas tussle, but it was hardly the squeaker that Madden showed it to be. New Orleans put the licking on Arizona for the second conference championship match-up with the Vikings.

So here we go again. This week it’s the conference championships, both to be played on Sunday. A lot is at stake with the winners squaring off in the Super Bowl.

NY Jets at Indianapolis

After a sluggish start for both offenses, New York finds a nice mix of the run and pass, with Thomas Jones grinding it out and Mark Sanchez finding open receivers. Decent drives, though, end in a pair of field goals. Meantime, Indianapolis’ special teams set up one touchdown and Peyton Manning catches fire through the air and engineers a second touchdown and the Colts are on top 14-6 midway into the second quarter. A second New York turnover establishes solid field position for Indianapolis after a punt exchange, but the Colts’ threat is turned aside on the first Indianapolis turnover of the day. The Jets drive down the field and Sanchez connects from 21 yards out for a touchdown. After a three and out, the Jets get good field position and Sanchez fires away, guiding the Jets to the score and at the half the Jets lead 20-14.

Indy’s first possession of the second half ends with a field goal to make it 20-17 for the Jets. The Jets turn over the ball deep in Colts’ territory, but the Jets defense comes through and records a safety. New York tacks on a field goal with 2:15 left in the third quarter to ease out to a 25-17 lead at the end of the third quarter. A Colts’ pick starts the fourth quarter. The Colts’ anemic rushing attack allows the Jets’ defense to cripple Manning’s passing offense. But the Jets get a bit lax and a 36-yard run and two-point conversion later and the game is knotted at 25-25 with 10:43 left in the game. The Jets put together a drive and collect a field goal on the other end of it to nudge out to a 28-25 lead. The Colts counter with a field goal with 1:54 left in regulation. A Jets’ 41-yard field goal attempt is no good, and Indianapolis takes possession with 1:15 left. Manning looks for and gets single-man coverage and tosses a 40-yard touchdown pass. The final is 35-28, Indianapolis over the Jets.

Minnesota at New Orleans

The Vikings take the opening kickoff and march down the field, but a Brett Favre pass is picked deep in the Saints’ end. New Orleans sets up shop at it's own 48 after a good return on the pick. A missed tackle springs the Saints’ running back, who finds the sideline and stakes New Orleans to a 7-0 lead with 9 minutes left in the first quarter. A 46-yard field goal attempt by Minnesota is no good, giving New Orleans solid field position for its second possession, but the Saints are stuffed. Uncharacteristically, though, Favre is picked for the second time in the red zone. The second quarter opens with New Orleans having the ball deep in its own end. Drew Brees finds open receivers, and drives the Saints down the field. On a third and goal, the Saints pitch it right and find the endzone for a 14-0 lead. After being limited to just 34 yards on 14 carries, Adrian Peterson finds some gaps and takes advantage. Minnesota, though, can only capitalize with a field goal and trail 14-3. Another trip into the red zone yields a field goal and New Orleans pushes its lead out to 17-3. Favre is picked for the third time in a frantic two-minute drive at the end of the half.

After a New Orleans punt to start the third, Favre goes to work and after a dosage of Peterson, Favre goes up top for the touchdown to narrow the Saints lead at 17-10. Undaunted, though, Brees fires back and New Orleans goes ahead 24-10. On the ensuing kickoff, a fumble on the runback is scooped up and the Saints are suddenly on top 31-10 with 9:43 left in the quarter. A Ryan Longwell 35-yard field goal nips the lead to 31-13. Longwell tacks on another field goal with less than a minute to play, and Minnesota trails 31-16 at the end of the third quarter. Brees opens the fourth with an aerial attack that results in another Saints’ touchdown and a 38-16 lead with 12:47 left. A big Peterson run puts the Viking back at more than 100 yards rushing, and sets up a Minnesota touchdown. The two-point conversion attempt is no good and Minnesota trails 38-22. The Vikings bring the blitz and New Orleans catches them flatfooted with a screen pass. New Orleans takes a commanding 45-22 lead. At that point it becomes all about clock management for the Saints’ offense, while the defense yields up only one more Minnesota touchdown in the game’s closing minutes and New Orleans advances to the big game with a 45-28 victory.

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