This article is part of our The Reddit Madden League series.
With only a handful of games taking place to begin Week 16 of the inaugural Madden 18 RML season, there’s plenty to play for in regards to seeding in the NFC. Let’s go ahead and run through the conference with just two weeks left to play in the regular season.
For a look at the dominance of the Colts and Titans in the AFC, click here.
Muddled Heap atop the Conference
While the opposite conference likely sports two (maybe three!) of the best teams in the league, the NFC has been a muddled bag of success, with nine teams sporting a record above .500 entering Week 16.
Such parity has culminated in a fantastic finish, with only the NFC West and East locked up with two games remaining. Despite technically residing as the No. 2 seed for the moment, the Cardinals (12-3 record) rule the roost thanks to an astounding defense that has forced 34 turnovers, converting 14 of those into touchdowns. To put that into context, Arizona is allowing 22 points per game, the sixth best figure in the league. I’m no good at math, but I think that means the Cardinals defense would have scored about a fourth of the points their opposition mustered together. As a result, it should come as no surprise Arizona leads the league in scoring despite some paltry offensive numbers, save for hefty passing figures from quarterback Patrick Mahomes (3,479 passing yards/33 touchdowns).
Despite the NFC East belonging to the 12-2 Cowboys, both the Giants (9-5 record) and Washington (9-5 record) were within earshot of the playoffs heading into Week 16. Perhaps more surprising, both teams have managed to hang onto their high statuses within the conference despite each organization switching owners during the season. A Week 17 battle between the franchises will likely determine who earns the final spot in the playoffs, with the higher of the two wildcard slots expected to go to the NFC North (more on that in a moment). But let’s not overshadow a Cowboys team that is slated to finish atop the conference. Placed in arguably the hardest division outside of the AFC South, Dallas has flourished thanks to a three-headed attack led by Jacoby Brissett, Giovani Bernard, and Zay Jones (only in Madden, am I right?). This also comes after a whopper of a trade deadline deal that sent away first round pick, Mike Evans, for free safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, middle linebacker Christian Kirksey, and rookie wide receiver Carlos Henderson, a move that Thunder general manager Sam Presti (maybe) lauded at the time as “worse than trading away James Harden for nothing.” It seems as if everything has come together in recent weeks for the Boys, who have accumulated a combined 138-49 scoreline in the last four weeks. There might not be a hotter team entering the playoffs.
Moving over to the NFC North, where in full disclosure, I reside as the Packers. It’s become a bitter brawl in the black-and-blue division, with both the Vikings (11-3 record) and Packers (10-4 record) jockeying for supremacy, and the Bears (8-6 record) trailing narrowly behind. Led by a comeback performance from steroid-infused-but-can’t-be-proven Adrian Peterson, who has rushed for 2,214 through 15 weeks in his return to Minnesota, and a play-action heavy passing attack centered around Julio Jones, the Vikings have befuddled teams, save for the ones located in the NFC North. A 1-3 record in the division would normally doom a team vying for a higher playoff seed, but thanks to Madden’s inability to recognize tiebreakers, there’s a real chance the Vikings could earn a home playoff game. That’s to the detriment of the not-at-all-salty Packers, who have squandered a hot start with two losses to AFC North teams, the Browns and Steelers, over the course of the last four weeks. The dynamic rookie duo of wide receiver John Ross and running back Christian McCaffrey have helped keep things close most weeks, with the cardiac Pack attack “boasting” a 5-4 record in one-score games. While the NFC North should have two playoff teams, it’s a mystery who will walk away with the top seed in the division. The Vikings square off against the Packers in Week 16 and then the Bears in Week 17, with the Packers set to face Lions (4-10 record) to end their regular season.
Undoubtedly, the NFC South fields the weakest of the conference playoff teams, but that’s perhaps more of a compliment to the strength of competition as opposed to a knock on the Buccaneers and Panthers, who are knotted at 8-7 after a clutch Week 16 skirmish between the two clubs went the way of Tampa Bay. It’s been a bit of a resurgence for the aforementioned Bucs, as the team seemed to be primed for a high draft pick after starting out the season 1-5, only to rally into prime playoff position with a 74 overall roster nonetheless. That’s due in large part to an astounding season from Jeremy Langford, who’s piled on nearly 1,900 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns in 15 games. You probably couldn’t find a better polar opposite in the Panthers, who have watched a 6-1 start slip away thanks to a one-dimensional offense focused primarily on chucking the ball with Jimmy Garoppolo. Gaudy passing numbers to wide receiver Martavis Bryant (61 catches/1,377 receiving yards/13 touchdowns) and tight end Julius Thomas (72 catches/1,090 receiving yards/10 touchdowns) haven’t stopped the bleeding yet. Both teams face easy ends to their season, with the Panthers taking on the Falcons (3-11 record) and the Buccaneers dueling against the Saints (6-8 record).
Assorted Statistics of Irrelevance
With nothing left to play for, the 49ers’ (4-10 record) David Johnson is expected to build on his record breaking rushing total (2,108 currently), as he is one of three players poised to break Eric Dickerson’s record for most rushing yards in a season (2,105).
One of just five teams with more rushing touchdowns than passing, the immortal LeGarrette Blount has scored 59 percent of the Lions’ (4-10 record) 41 offensive touchdowns, by far the highest mark in the league. For more touchdown percentages by player, check out RML Podcast #5.
Already the current single-game NFL record holder in passing yards, Aaron Rodgers is the catalyst behind a vibrant passing attack for the Bears, leading the league in passing yards-per-game (432.7) by a large margin. In what might be the most uncomfortable sentence I have ever written in my professional career, Rodgers and the Bears could very well lead the league in passing yards come season’s end.
Of the 15 NFC quarterbacks to attempt more than 200 passes, just five have thrown less than 20 interceptions in the season, with at least one likely to hit that threshold in the coming games. Your top five leaders in the atrocious statistic? Jaguars’ Dak Prescott (46), Eagles’ Davis Webb (40), Falcons’ Cam Newton (39), 49ers’ Joe Flacco (39) and Ryan Tannehill (34) on the Rams. That means that upper wards of five quarterbacks could be poised to break George Blanda's record of 42 picks in a season, a mark that was set in 1962.