With the August 23 release date for Madden 17 quickly approaching, I am going to continue to look at various aspects of the game’s past and future in an ongoing series over the next couple of months.
How do you define the all time greatest teams in Madden? They’re probably not who you think they are. Each year, little nuances and tricks in competitive gameplay can turn a team who is mediocre or bad in real life into a Madden juggernaut. Conversely, the same factors can turn a successful team into an afterthought for Madden’s eSports competitors. For years, elite pocket passers like Peyton Manning were not as impactful in Madden because the difference in accuracy between Manning and the lowest rated QBs was very minimal.
Then there are the times that the stars align — with a team dominating on both the real life and digital gridiron like the Panthers in 2015.
To clarify, Madden 08 Chargers means the real life 2007 Chargers. For those unfamiliar, Madden each year is named similarly to cars in that it is always one year ahead of the actual NFL season taking place. Confused yet?
Without further ado, here are my top five teams in Madden history.
5) Madden 13 San Francisco 49ers
Madden 13 was a game built on big hits from your linebackers causing fumbles and completing passes to your tight ends when they’re running streak routes. The streak routes were extremely overpowered in the game because they essentially gave the receiver running them psychic abilities. The user, as the quarterback, could drastically lead the receiver to the inside or outside on his streak route — with the receiver knowing which way to cut without having to look at the ball or the quarterback. Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker’s speed made them the perfect tight end combo for this tactic.
Colin Kaepernick had also not yet been figured out by NFL defenses and his ratings in the game reflected it. He was the perfect combination of speed and throwing power that Madden users have sought since Michael Vick set the standard on Playstation 2. Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, and Aldon Smith formed probably the best combination of speed and hit power for a linebacking unit in Madden history.
When users saw they were playing San Fran, they prepared themselves for the inevitable temper tantrum that comes with losing two or three fumbles.
4) Madden 09 Dallas Cowboys
Curl routes, fullback dives, and halfback tosses were the weapons of choice in Madden 09.
The game featured a handoff animation on fullback dives that was unrealistically fast. This created the ability to consistently gain five-plus yards on the play even when the defense employed schemes that logically should stop a fullback dive. The halfback toss was made even more effective because of how much users had to bend over backwards to stop the fullback dive. No team better exploited this than the Cowboys through their combination of Marion Barber and Felix Jones. Barber, lined up at fullback, would force users into committing their entire defense to the middle of the field while the offense waited for the perfect time to strike with the speedy Jones on the outside. I may or may not have broken a couple of PS3 controllers as a result of this.
The curl route was also overpowered in Madden 09. Unlike today, animations didn’t exist in the game for a defensive back interacting with a receiver on a jump ball. This opened the door for users to chuck curls up to receivers who were double covered with almost no fear of throwing an interception. Tony Romo’s mobility coupled with tall receivers like Terrell Owens and Jason Witten took perfect advantage of this.