I'm three seasons ahead in my Madden franchise. Oddly enough, I just passed the Wild Card round on an insane Hail Mary after scrambling out of the pocket with Tyrod Taylor as the Los Angeles Rams QB. It was in the snow in Green Bay, so it was more dramatic. I wasn't recording this, so it's not believable, but it happened. I don't care what you say.
Secondly, Aaron Rodgers is a real-life Madden glitch. The throws he's been making this season defy belief. Since throwing his last interception in Week 10, Rodgers has now thrown 22 TDs and 0 INTs in his last eight games. The only player with more consecutive touchdown passes without an interception is Tom Brady is 26. If the Packers make a run for the Super Bowl, Rodgers is likely breaking that record.
Enough rambling, let's get to the ratings ...
Moving On Up
The Pittsburgh Steelers tight end is more than just a cool name. While James isn't exactly lighting up score boards, he's been a solid receiver for Big Ben and has shown off some talent with blocking. Just look at the Wild Card highlights, he had some key blocks early. That blocking prowess helped James get a two-point bump to 76 OVR.
With the absence of Tyler Lockett, the Seattle Seahawks needed somebody to step up to take away some attention from Doug Baldwin. There was some talk about Paul Richardson before, but then this catch happened. Wow. Making catches like that in the playoffs is just the thing you need to build trust from your QB. Richardson is up two to 74 OVR.
Wait, let me make sure this is right. So it is. Osweiler has been in a bit of downward spiral this year, including losing the starting job to Tom Savage. But there's nothing like playoff scoring to heal old wounds. Osweiler totaled a pair of TDs to beat the Oakland Raiders defense in the Wild Card. It'll be interesting to see what he does against the New England Patriots. More on that later. He's up one to 75 OVR.
Moving on Down
It's a bit of a stacked list in the down columns this week with Beckham likely the biggest of them. In a game where OBJ looked like he might feast on a less than stellar Packers secondary, he floundered. He had some uncharacteristic drops, including one that is normally and automatic TD. Maybe going on a boat trip in Miami before the frigid temps of Lambeau Field wasn't a good idea. I guess without Peyton Manning playing, Beckham decided we needed a new cold=kryptonite angle. He dropped one to 92 OVR. See what I did there? Dropped one to ... is this thing on?
Well, that happened. Sure, the Detroit Lions made the playoffs, but it's starting to look like it was more the Washington Redskins fell off rather than the team earning their spot. His stats seamed normal, but Stafford is now 5-46 against teams that finish the season with a winning record. From 2009 through 2015, the Lions were ranked second in red zone TD percentage. This season, they're ranked 17th. It's clear that Calvin Johnson is missed. Stafford is down one to 84 OVR.
The Dolphins were surging there for a bit this season. They have the talent, but after a tough loss in Pittsburgh, someone is going to get hurt in the Madden ratings. This time, it's Kiko Alonso. This follows an 18-point loss in the playoffs. Quick fact, the Dolphins are now 0-8 in playoff games below 50 degrees. Alonso is down three points to 76 OVR. I expect him to climb out of that rut very early next season.
Six bold predictions for the Divisional Round
6. This isn't exactly breaking news, but Aaron Rodgers is good at football. The Packers are heading into Dallas this week, but Rodgers just lit up a more talented Giants passing defense. The Cowboys' offense grinds the ball into opposing defenses and eats up clock, but when Rodgers gets into rhythm, he scores at will. Even if without Jordy Nelson, I'll take the Packers in a road upset over the Boys.
5. The last time the Texans went into Foxboro, it didn't go as well as they hoped. This time, they have a hungry Tom Brady to deal with, and he's had two weeks of time to dissect their defense. The Texans defense is going to provide tons of pressure, and it might work for the first half. But after a while, Brady will start spreading the field with short passes before someone like James White or Dion Lewis takes one to the house. Back in Week 3, the final score ended at 27-0, Patriots. I honestly don't expect it to be too different here.
4. There's only four games this weekend, so let's double up on this one. Brock Osweiler totaled less than 200 yards against the Raiders defense, but he did get a pair of TDs. I'm just going to throw this out there, he won't do that against the Patriots. He'll have no touchdowns and three interceptions. I wouldn't even be surprised if we see Tom Savage by the end of this one. I wonder, how would Tyrod Taylor look in a Texans' jersey?
3.The Falcons and Seahawks might be the most evenly game of the postseason. Atlanta has an edge with Julio Jones at receiver, and Seattle has a better defense. Richard Sherman is likely going to shadow Jones as much as possible. Back in Week 6, Sherman covered Jones on 25 plays in the game, allowing a passer rating of 45.8. On plays where Jones wasn't covered by Sherman, the passer rating was perfect at 158.3. I think the difference here will be Jimmy Graham. Look for Graham to have a pair of TDs and nearly 100 yards when the Hawks upset the Falcons.
2. If the Pittsburgh Steelers have a major weakness on defense, it's covering tight ends. Especially when those tight ends are mismatch nightmares like Travis Kelce. Kelce ate up 1,125 receiving yards this season. He also made the Denver Broncos defense look foolish, especially when he was blocking. That's saying something considering he had 160 yards that day. He'll have another monster day against the Steelers, racking up 130 yards and a pair of TDs.
1.But the game will go to the Steelers. The Chiefs secondary will keep Antonio Brown quiet enough since he'll have Marcus Peters and Eric Berry to deal with. But Le'Veon Bell is going to drive this victory home. Against teams that ranked in the bottom 10 in rushing defense this season, Bell averaged 144.3 yards per game. He also had 144 yards against the Chiefs in Week 4. I'm going to still with the numbers here. Bell will rush for 144 yards, totaling for over 180 on the day, with two touchdowns in a Steelers win.