Super Bowl 50: ‘Madden NFL 16’ Picks the Winner

Want to know who’s going to win Super Bowl 50? Just ask a video game.

Each year leading up to the Super Bowl, Electronic Arts runs a simulation of the big game in the latest Madden NFL video game to see which team the software pegs as the winner. While it might sound like a silly marketing move — which it is — these simulations have a surprisingly strong track record.

The results are in for Super Bowl 50. Madden NFL 16 predicts that the Carolina Panthers will defeat the Denver Broncos 24-20.

The simulation, which has the computer A.I. controlling both teams, showed a close match, with Panthers quarterback Cam Newton scoring the winning touchdown and nabbing the Super Bowl MVP award.

A reasonable question at this point is why anyone in their right mind would listen to what a video game has to say about the winner of the Super Bowl. A few reasons. For one, the company has been honing and iterating on the software that runs Madden games since the 1980s, which probably makes it the best simulation money can buy. EA also updates the roster and stats for each team and player before running the simulation, making it as true-to-life as possible. And lastly, these simulations have correctly picked the winning team nine out of the last 12 years.

  • Super Bowl XLIX – Right
    Madden prediction: Patriots, 28, Seahawks, 24
    Actual score: Patriots, 28, Seahawks, 24
  • Super Bowl XLVIII – Wrong
    Madden: Broncos, 31, Seahawks, 28
    Actual score: Seahawks 43, Broncos, 8
  • Super Bowl XLVII- Right
    Madden: Ravens, 27, 49ers, 24
    Actual score: Ravens, 34, 49ers, 31
  • Super Bowl XLVI – Right
    Madden: Giants, 27, Patriots, 24
    Actual score: Giants, 21, Patriots, 17
  • Super Bowl XLV – Wrong
    Madden: Steelers, 24, Packers, 20
    Actual score: Packers, 31, Steelers, 25
  • Super Bowl XLIV – Right
    Madden: Saints 35, Colts 31
    Actual score: Saints 31, Colts 17
  • Super Bowl XLIII – Right
    Madden: Steelers 28, Cardinals 24
    Actual score: Steelers 27, Cardinals 23
  • Super Bowl XLII – Wrong
    Madden: Patriots 38, Giants 30
    Actual score: Giants 17, Patriots 14
  • Super Bowl XLI – Right
    Madden: Colts 38, Bears 27
    Actual score: Colts 29, Bears 17
  • Super Bowl XL – Right
    Madden: Steelers 24, Seahawks 19
    Actual score: Steelers 21, Seahawks 10
  • Super Bowl XXXIX – Right
    Madden: Patriots 47, Eagles 31
    Actual score: Patriots 24, Eagles 21
  • Super Bowl XXXVIII – Right
    Madden: Patriots 23, Panthers 20
    Actual Score: Patriots 32, Panthers 29

In fact, last year’s results were eerily close to the real thing. Here’s EA on what the simulation got right for last year’s Super Bowl:

  • The exact final score (28–24)
  • Tom Brady winning Super Bowl MVP
  • Brady passing for 335 yards and 4 touchdowns (Brady finished the game with 328 yards and 4 touchdowns. The sim missed by only seven yards.)
  • New England would trail 24–14 in the third quarter before staging a comeback
  • Julian Edelman scoring the game-winning touchdown pass and Edelman finishing as the Patriots’ top receiver with eight catches for 106 yards (Edelman ended the Super Bowl with nine catches for 109 yards)

Not bad for a silly marketing stunt.

Another reason to trust it is that the results for this year’s Super Bowl line up pretty well with the official Vegas odds for the game. So if you trust the gambling masterminds in Las Vegas, there’s a good chance Madden is right yet again.

By the way, if you’re interested in playing Madden NFL 15, and you have an Xbox One, you might want to consider signing up for EA Access for a month or two. The game is coming to the subscription service’s vault starting February 2. For answers to all of your questions about EA Access, click here.

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