Yesterday I was lucky enough to have the chance to review "Madden NFL 15" for the site, but on a rather short deadline. As such, I wasn't able to dive into everything as much as possible, and failed to mention that the game no longer supports online team play, meaning you and a friend can't join up to take on other bros in Madden via the magic of the internet. Apologies. To me, this isn't devastating, because when I do play Madden I prefer to go mano a mano. The last thing I want is one of my friends ruining my well-executed offense. And besides, who wants to share bragging rights anyway? But, I'm sure it was a popular feature so for those of you that loved it, you have my sympathies.
On to a deeper dive into the game. Prior to the game's release EA Sports released team and player ratings by division. I'm going to take it a step further and take a look at the rosters from the game in addition to what EA Sports shared prior. The first stop is the NFC North, as it features such offensive juggernauts as Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, Aaron Rodgers, Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte, Reggie Bush and so on, and so forth. Let's take a look.
Chicago Bears -- 84
Chicago, once known for staunch defense, now boasts an offensive attack with three skill position players rated 90 or more OVR (Brandon Marshall 96, Matt Forte 95, Alshon Jeffery 91). And boy are they a difficult trio to deal with on defense. Speaking of the defense, the unit is led by three talented veterans in Lance Briggs (87 OVR), Charles Tillman (87 OVR) and Tim Jennings (88 OVR). If middle linebacker Jon Bostic (70 OVR) wins the starting job, don't be surprised if he starts climbing up the ratings ladder this season. His play in the preseason has looked like a marked improvement from 2013. The team itself sits at an 84, but if the defensive unit can shore up that number could rise.
Detroit Lions -- 80
Calvin Johnson is one of only three players to be ranked 99 OVR (J.J. Watt, Richard Sherman), and deservedly so. Guy is an absolute beast in Madden and in real life. Ndamukong Suh might surprise some with his 97 OVR as his stats haven't been eye-popping recently, but when it comes to interior defensive linemen disruption is production, and few can disrupt a pocket like Suh. Nick Fairley's 91 OVR seems a bit generous, but the talent is there. Matthew Stafford clocks in at 87 OVR, and if his new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi can effectively deploy all of the options in Stafford's arsenal -- Golden Tate 84 OVR, Reggie Bush 85 OVR, Joique Bell 84 OVR -- then Stafford might be able to start saddling up with the elite signal-callers in terms of Madden ratings.
Green Bay Packers -- 88
The 2013 NFC North champions reign supreme when it comes to team ratings in the division with their score of 88. That's likely in large part due to an offense loaded with weapons, starting with Aaron Rodgers and his 98 OVR. He gets to throw the ball to Jordy Nelson (93 OVR) and Randall Cobb (89 OVR) and when that doesn't work he can hand if off to workhorse Eddie Lacy (87 OVR), who could easily jump up into the 90s by the end of the season. The defense hopes new addition Julius Peppers (82 OVR) can pair with Clay Matthews (90 OVR) to bring a ferocious new element to the team and help them defend their division title. In a division full of potent offenses, that won't be easy. For now, the Packers can be content with the fact that they're tied for the third highest team score in Madden.
Minnesota Vikings -- 76
It doesn't help your team rating when you only have three players rated above a 90 OVR, even if one of them is Adrian Peterson. To be fair, I feel that the Vikings players have been a bit underrated by the fine folks at EA Sports. Cordarrelle Patterson is only an 82 OVR. That's not a joke. I can't imagine that rating staying pat too long into the season. Likewise, Kyle Rudolph is an 84 OVR, which I feel is a bit low as well. New offensive coordinator Norv Turner's offense could do wonders for those two on the field and in terms of their Madden rating. Rounding out the 90s with Peterson were two of his linemen in John Sullivan (92) and Phil Loadholt (90). This is a team with seven first-round draft picks in the last three years, so they have the talent in the cupboard to turn this team Madden rating around in a hurry.