EA Sports/ Madden NFL 12
A digital version of Cowboys Stadium in Arlington as seen in the EA Sports video game Madden NFL 12.
Want a leg up on your game day predictions? We're looking into the Madden NFL 12 crystal ball to give you an early outlook on the big game.
Using the Madden NFL 2012 game on XBox 360, we're running a simulated game before each of the Cowboys regular season games, then reporting the results to you.
Madden's intricate statistics system updates each week with official rosters and player performance each week. Stat trackers at EA update each player's yardage, big plays, and more, ensuring that player performance is closer to real-life.
Our simulations are exhibition games played entirely by computer. We set the home and visitors teams for the game (e.g. Jets at home versus Cowboys) then set our mode to "spectator" to just view the game as it happens.
The two AI teams are set to use the official playbooks and rosters as updated by the Madden programmers, and battle it out for four 10 minute quarters of football. (Through our testing, we determined the 10 minute quarters of Madden were more accurate to final scoring than the 15 minute quarters used by the NFL. We based this change on multiple simulations of Cowboys preseason games, and the first regular season game against the Jets.)
So how accurate was our simulation? In the three simulations we ran with Cowboys versus Jets, the Jets won every time (just like the true regular season game). In our first two simulated games, the Jets won by at least a 10 point margin. Our final simulation showed a score much closer to what actually happened on Sunday night -- a final score of Jets 30, Cowboys 27.
Interestingly, big receivers Dez Bryant for Dallas and Plaxico Burress for New York always scored at least a touchdown each during any simulated game. In the simulation, Shon Greene for the Jets averaged 75 yards per game (for three games), though he only pulled 26 years in the opener against the Cowboys.
For the next Cowboys game against the '49ers in San Francisco, we'd expect our simulations to be even more accurate due to the updated player data from the first game. We'll look into the Madden Crystal Ball for that game on Thursday.