Over the next few weeks, we'll analyze the NFL playoffs using EA Sports' powerhouse football simulation, Madden NFL 25, determining the pros and cons of each team and picking an overall winner.
This time around, we've got a real contest on our hands. On one side, the Kansas City Chiefs have one of the greatest turnarounds in team history, led by coach Andy Reid and quarterback Alex Smith. On the other, the Indianapolis Colts seek Super Bowl glory with the help of their talented quarterback, Andrew Luck.
Kansas City Chiefs – Madden NFL 25 Team Rating: 76
As you can see by the team rating, a lot of people weren't anticipating the Chiefs having such a stellar year. After all, they had come off one of the worst years in franchise history with its 2012-2013 season. However, the arrival of new coach Andy Reid and quarterback Alex Smith changed quite a bit.
Thanks to Reid and his staff, Smith had quite a year, with more than 3,300 yards over the course of the season, as well as 23 touchdowns. By comparison, he only had seven interceptions, quite a change from what the team went through back in 2012. This is a huge push forward from what he was doing with the 49ers, before he was replaced by Colin Kaepernick.
The Chiefs aren't just a one-man show, however. Jamaal Charles had a big year, rushing for over 1,280 yards and catching 70 passes out of the backfield. That added up to a huge number of points and wins, giving the Chiefs a remarkable record over the course of the season. Dwayne Boowe and Dexter McCluster also played an enormous part on the offense, with nearly 27 points scored on average per game and over 335 yards.
As far as defense goes, the Chiefs did some great work, with Derrick Johnson leading the charge with nearly five sacks a game on average. Eric Berry, Justin Houston and Tamba Hall also contributed to the defensive game, with a stoppage in yards and several interceptions. In all, the team allowed just under 20 points a game over the course of the season, and under 370 yards.
Playing With the Chiefs
Reid is certainly no slouch. He's brought a great playbook for the team, consisting of both running and passing plays. You'll want to mix up both to keep the Colts' defense guessing, so they don't get used to your patterns and see right through the defense. Mid-range pass plays are your best bet, though the run is also nice to have on hand.
Smith is highly effective, however, so don't play it cautious with your quarterback. There are several great passing plays to try here, particularly mid-range tosses that can get you a lot of yardage, especially on third down plays. The Colts are no slouch in defense, so keep an eye on defenders and look for a good open man down field.
Don't forget about Charles either. His rushing yards say it all, and he can catch the ball when it comes in handy. If you have an option to use him on a crucial reception, take it. He'll really get the job done when it comes to putting points on the board.
Indianapolis Colts – Madden NFL 25 Team Rating: 83
Ever since losing Peyton Manning to the Denver Broncos, Andrew Luck had a lot to live up to with the Indianapolis Colts. Fortunately, he didn't disappoint. He ranks amongst the top of the quarterbacks in the league, with more than 3,800 yards over the course of the season and 23 touchdowns. That's not quite enough to keep up with Peyton's record numbers in Denver, though – and it's hard to overlook his nine interceptions.
Things have been rough for select players on the team, like Trent Richardson failing to post big numbers and Reggie Wayne, a long-time favorite, being out for the season with an injury. However, several other stars have stepped up in their place, including T.Y. Hilton and Coby Fleener.
With the help of this offense, the team has scored nearly 25 points per game, and built up just under 350 yards on average.
Defensively, it's also done a very good job, with Jerrell Freeman leading the pack with over five sacks per game on average and Antoine Bethea registering 110 tackles. The team has only allowed 21 points per game, and just shy of 360 yards. They also had decisive wins over select teams during the season – including Peyton's Broncos.
Playing With the Colts
Luck is one of the biggest factors on this team. He may not be putting up the monster numbers that Manning has over on the Broncos squad, but as he's proven this season, he can certainly beat him once he's focused enough. Scan over your pass plays and see what's available -- both short and long ones really work for him -- and keep an eye on routes. Receivers like Richardson and Fleener should have no problem getting open, even with the Chiefs defense, and he can get the ball where it needs to be, provided you don't leave the route too wide open (i.e. don't dawdle -- you could also leave yourself open for a sack).
Defensively, keep an eye on Smith. He'll work quickly to get the ball out of his hands, or hand off the ball to an open receiver. Try to select defensive plays tha cover all corners of the offensive line (a good line-up on the front line and a few in the backfield) so that it's covered all around. If you've got enough guys lined up, you should be able to penetrate the line and keep Smith on his toes -- and maybe even set up the opportunity for a sack.
So Who Wins?
Both teams are going to bring their A-game into this playoff, but it's important to remember just how well they did over the course of the season. The Chiefs lost a bit of momentum near the tail end of it, allowing the Colts to beat them in a contest back in late December with a final score of 23-7. However, Reid and his squad are sure to be more motivated than ever in getting revenge.
The Chiefs, led by Smith, should have no problem putting points on the board, even with the Colts' stagnant defense. Likewise, Luck and his team will also get their fair share of touchdowns, keeping things close.
With our simulation, the Colts managed to pull away with a 42-21 victory, but keep in mind this is based upon the team ratings that EA Sports initially gave the Chiefs at the start of the season. Reid's squad could certainly be full of surprises, but you can bet the Colts will be more than ready for them.
In the end, the Colts should pull away and move further into the playoffs, while the Chiefs can re-gather their strength and prepare for a winning run in the next season. At least that's how this Madden sim sees it.
Madden NFL 25 is available now for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.