With rivalry week in full force, I sat down and watched a full game simulation between the Redskins and the Cowboys. I upped the AI skill level to All-Pro this week. To be honest, I don't think the Skins put up an All-Pro performance in week 1 but Pro mode made scoring too easy for the computers and All-Madden made it almost impossible.
The Skins held the Cowboys to mostly field goals throughout the game and managed to be on top 17-14 at the half. The first half was actually fun to watch. It wasn't the high flying scoring bananza of the week 1 simulation. There was even a Cowboys field goal blocked and returned for a touchdown by the Skins. The Skins blocking a Cowboys field goal brings back memories.
But the realism fell apart after half time. As will prove to be the case throughout the year, Madden isn't meant to actually simulate realistic games. The major flaw this week was Matt Jones' rushing. Now, I don't think Jones will get less than 30 yards each week like he did against the Steelers (in real life), but he went for 247 yards in this simulation. Madden makes off tackle runs and stretch plays overly effective. I've won games running basically the stretch play and a few passes. The AI just doesn't know how to read it and stop it.
Jones ripped off long runs of about 44, 75(TD), and 50(TD), all off the right side. After chasing Jones all day, the Dallas front seven got fatigued and couldn't stop up the middle runs anymore.
On the Cowboys side of the ball, rookie running back Ezekiel "Crop Top" Elliott had some great plays catching the ball out of the backfield and running the ball. Once he was out in open space, he was dangerous. Ultimately though, the Cowboys didn't punch it in the endzone and settled for field goals.
The final score came to 45-19 Redskins. To be honest though, the game was over in the middle of the third quarter. Then the over exaggerated running game led to a few more scores for Washington.
Surprisingly realistic parts of the simluation
Ezekiel Elliott having a solid week 2:
Elliott didn't have the opening week he would have hoped for. I expect him to have a better game this Sunday. I don't think he'll have eye popping numbers but I would expect at least a couple big plays.
Cousins not quite being at the top of his game:
In the simulation Jones was the star but there were some passing plays. One in particular seemed realistic. Desean Jackson beat his man in one on one coverage and had nothing but open field between him and the end zone. Cousins got the ball to him but it was under thrown. Cousins' bad pass turned a sure fire touchdown into a comparatively bad 32 yard gain. I predict Cousins to be off on some of his passes that will lead to his receivers not gaining as many yards as they could.
Unrealistic parts of the simulation
No gushing over Sean Lee:
Despite the fact that this was a Cowboys game, I didn't get to hear Troy Aikman go on about Sean Lee for three hours! Usually, I get a running commentary of every time Sean Lee makes a tackle, breaks up a pass, or picks his nose. Sadly this didn't make it's way into Madden 17... maybe next year.
Alfred Morris did a spin move: I like Alf, his story, his work ethic, his personality. I wish he was still a Redskin. But I don't think he took ballet as a kid. In this simulation he did a spin move, another thing Madden games make overly effective. I don't see him doing that on Sunday.
Breeland got beat by Terrance Williams:
I know Breeland had a bad first game statistically but he was facing one of the best wide receivers in the game. I don't think Breeland is going to be the punching bag of offenses.
The simulation was a one sided ground battle that saw Matt Jones take the game over. I don't think this could be much further from what the Skins do on Sunday. I predict a close rivalry game that goes back and forth until the very end. I expect a heavy running attack from the Cowboys, including Alfred Morris and a steady passing game from Kirk Cousins and the Skins.
Specifically I predict the Skins will try to run the ball early but abandon the running game before fans think they should, that Breeland will be physical with the Cowboys receivers and come out aggressively to make up for last week, and that the Redskins will win thanks to Dustin Hopkins.