Another season of NFL Football is upon is and with it comes the annual release of Madden. Madden NFL 13 introduces some changes, specifically to the passing game, that ensures that the QB is still the most important factor for gamers when choosing what team to use online. The new ballhawk feature will also make great defensive backs even better this year.
Some online gamers will stick with their favorite team and that is admirable. Most however, will be running with one of the seven teams listed below (plus one sleeper). With that, here is my prediction for the seven most popular teams online in Madden NFL 13.
1) Philadelphia Eagles - The "dream team" from the 2011 season may be no more, but for virtual gamers, they are alive and well. Michael Vick's ability to wreak havoc in the air and on the ground, combined with DeSean Jackson's deep threat make the Eagles a lock to be one of the most used teams in Madden NFL 13. Throw in LeSean McCoy at running back, Trent Cole rushing the QB, and Nmandi Asomugha as a shut down corner on defense and you have all the makings for the most popular team for online play in 13. The allure of Vick's dual threat ability, the offensive playmakers, and a good defense make this a virtual lock.
2) Carolina Panthers - Again, it's all about the QB. The Panthers began to become a popular choice last year as Cam Newton emerged as the Rookie of the Year, and this season you will see more of the Panthers than ever. On offense, Steve Smith is still a huge playmaker while Greg Olsen gives users a reliable option over the middle. Carolina is also strong at running back with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. The defense is still a major question mark at this point but that won't curb the enthusiasm of gamers looking to run the Cam Newton show. Carolina could end up being the most used team in 13 when it's all said and done.
3) Green Bay Packers - Aaron Rodgers will be the top overall quarterback in Madden NFL 13, and that alone ensures that Green Bay will once again be among the most popular teams online this year. With a high powered offense that features Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jermichael Finley, and new workhorse running back Cedric Benson this offense is going to be harder than ever to defend. It's just nasty. Green Bay has plenty of weapons on defense as well. Charles Woodson is back to ball hawk in the secondary, and LBs A.J. Hawk and Clay Matthews will leave the opposition's bell ringing with massive hits.
4) New England Patriots - The Patriots are a tried and true favorite of Madden gamers for years now. Tom Brady and the four and five receiver offense seems tailor made for video game football. Tom Brady will once again be one of the highest rated QBs in the game. Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, and Aaron Hernandez will make playing defense a living hell for the opponents. Gamers who roll with New England will likely use the same strategy as the real Patriots and that is to score, score, and score some more and hope the defense holds up. No one on this current defense scares you but that won't temper the temptation to sling the ball around with "Tom Terrific".
5) New York Giants - The defending Super Bowl Champs figure to always be a popular choice. With Eli Manning leading the way and a talented group of receivers in Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz, it will be tough to cover this passing game with Manning's accuracy and the new passing mechanics in Madden NFL 13. The G-Men are just as stout on defense as well with Osi Umenyiora, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Justin Tuck keeping the opposing QB under pressure all game long. If one of New York's defensive backs steps up this season (Prince Amukamara?), they may surge to the top of this list.
6) New York Jets - Maybe I'm buying into the "Tebow effect" here but I believe more gamers than ever before will flock to the Jets. Besides the QB tandem of Sanchez and Tebow and the offensive flexibility that that adds, you've got relaible receiving options in Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller. On defense users are going to love locking people up on "Revis Island" while Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, and David Harris (among others) make plays all over the field. The Jets are always at the center of attention and the addition of Tebow puts them over the top for online play in 13.
7) Washington Redskins - This is all about RGIII, or Mike Vick 2.0 if you prefer. Despite not having the strongest supporting cast, gamers will be using the virtual Redskins all season long. Santana Moss, Chris Cooley, and Fred Davis figure to be Griffin III's top targets. If another receiver breaks out during the season, watch out. Griffin III will also have the most ability to make plays with his feet since Michael Vick in Madden 2004. On defense Brian Orakpo, London Fletcher, and DeAngelo Hall will help keep the opposing offense off the field and keep the former Baylor QB on the field causing opponents to throw controllers and look for the Alka-Seltzer.
Denver Broncos - I have a feeling that with the addition of Peyton Manning, the Broncos may sneak into this list by the end of the season. Sure the defense has more recognizable names than the offense in Champ Bailey, Elvis Dumervil, and Von Miller but the lure of throwing the ball with Manning just might be enough to propel them into the top seven. Gamers will have to make due with a subpar supporting cast on offense, with Demaryius Thomas being the biggest playmaker but Manning can make average receivers look great. It will be very interesting to see how often Denver pops up online in Madden NFL 13 in a year with so much emphasis on the passing game.
What do you think OS? Who will you be running with online in Madden NFL 13?