Laugh all you want at video game simulations, but the “Madden” franchise has been surprisingly accurate at predicting the Super Bowl winner in recent years. In eight of the 10 years EA Sports has been running the simulation, the longstanding NFL video game franchise has picked the correct winner, often with a respectable approximation of the final score or margin of victory.
That news should be heartening for fans of the Denver Broncos.
In simulation run on the Xbox One version of “Madden NFL 25,” the Broncos defeated the Seattle Seahawks 31-28 in the first overtime in Super Bowl history, according to a report by Yahoo on Jan. 27. In the simulation, Seattle’s lightning rod cornerback Richard Sherman gets his team off to a strong start, picking off Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and returning the interception for a touchdown that helps Seattle to a 10-7 halftime lead.
As has been the case all season, the Broncos’ halftime adjustments lead to a big third quarter, where they push out to a two score lead, but Seattle makes a game of it with a long fourth-quarter touchdown run by Marshawn Lynch. Trailing by two with the game on the line, Seattle’s second-year quarterback Russell Wilson is hit in the backfield by Broncos defensive back Kayvon Webster, but shrugs off the tackle to get the ball over the goal line for the two-point conversion, sending the game to OT.
Seattle wins the toss and looks to capitalize on the momentum swing, but the Broncos defense forces a three-and-out on a third-down sack by Shawn Phillips. With his legacy on the line, Manning delivers a perfect sideline strike to a toe-tapping Demaryius Thomas, and strong-footed kicker Matt Prater nails a 48-yard field goal to hand Denver a 31-28 Super Bowl win.
If this all sounds a little too elaborate, keep in mind that, according to Yahoo, last year’s simulation correctly predicted the final margin of victory (Ravens by 3) and “was one attempt and two completions shy of getting Colin Kaepernick’s stat line exactly right.” Even more eerily, "Madden" was off by just one point from the final score of one of the wildest Super Bowls ever, the Pittsburgh Steelers' 28-24 win over the Arizona Cardinals (Madden had the game 27-23 Steelers, and precisely predicted Santonio Holmes’ 131 receiving yards).
In other words, Bronco fans should start planning on taking the day off for a Super Bowl parade.