With the excitement building in anticipation for the August 25th release date of 'Madden 16', the makers of the game, Electronic Arts are now unveiling team ratings. Today, it was the AFC North's turn. The division will likely be tightly contested, in both real life, and Madden.
#1: Baltimore Ravens (OVR 85)
"New Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman will have two intriguing rookies to play with in WR Breshad Perriman (73 OVR) and TE Maxx Williams (74 OVR). HB Justin Forsett (87 OVR) returns behind a zone-blocking offensive line featuring RG Marshall Yanda (98 OVR) and LG Kelechi Osemele (90 OVR).The defense features returning ROLB Terrell Suggs (93 OVR), MLB Daryl Smith (90 OVR), MLB C. J. Mosely (88 OVR), and LOLB Elvis Dumervil (88 OVR). Will Hill (88 OVR) should become the starter at SS."
EA's ranking of the Ravens seems pretty solid all-around. The defense, composed of both young and old studs will wreak havoc on the weaker offenses of the league. On the other side of the ball, the offense is filled with many unsung heroes. However, if they show up and play, along with rookies Williams and Perriman, the Baltimore squad could be deadly on both attacks, defensive and offensive.
T-2: Cincinnati Bengals (OVR 84)
"Head coach Hue Jackson wants to run the ball with HB Jeremy Hill (86 OVR) behind a good offensive line featuring LT Andrew Whitworth (95 OVR) and RG Kevin Zeitler (89 OVR). A. J. Green (92 OVR) leads a WR corps that includes Mohamed Sanu (79 OVR) and Marvin Jones (78 OVR). Tyler Eifert (81 OVR) will step in as #1 TE following the departure of Jermaine Gresham.DT Geno Atkins (89 OVR) anchors the defensive line, alongside LE Carlos Dunlap (88 OVR) and RE Michael Johnson (81 OVR). Vontaze Burfict (86 OVR) and Rey Maualuga (83 OVR) are solid at linebacker. Dre Kirkpatrick (77 OVR) can make an impact as the slot CB."
First, it's worth noting that Hue Jackson is not the head coach. Rather, the offensive coordinator.
The Bengals differ from the Ravens and Steelers because neither side of the ball is 'elite' for them, but both units are very solid.
The run-first offense with the powerful 'Thunder & Lightning' duo of Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill looks to decimate defenses. The passing offense is also very competent, with Andy Dalton throwing the ball to the elite A.J. Green and the often underrestimated Sanu & Jones.
Defensively, the team lacks true star power, but still has very good contributors in every facet of the game. On the line, at linebacker, and in the secondary, the Bengals have solid players all around. But will 'solid' be enough to win this tough division?
T-2: Pittsburgh Steelers (OVR 84)
"Despite some changes on defense, the Steelers will be strong. Big Ben (95 OVR) at QB, WR Antonio Brown (97 OVR), and HB Le’Veon Bell (94 OVR) are the offensive superstars. The other two wideout spots should be Martavis Bryant (80 OVR) and Markus Wheaton (75 OVR).Stephon Tuitt (73 OVR) should start at RE with Cameron Heyward (88 OVR) at LE. James Harrison (84 OVR) will be challenged at OLB by Arthur Moats (80 OVR). Expect Shamarko Thomas (76 OVR) to start at SS after the retirement of Troy Polamalu."
The Steelers' transition from elite defense to offense has been a suprising, yet sudden one. The trio of 'Big Ben', Bell, and Brown is very scary, with all having ratings over 90. There's no doubt that this offense is a perfect matchup against the great defenses of the division, but will the team's defense hold?
With long-time coordinator Dick LeBeau, safety Troy Polamalu, and other key contributors all gone, the ability of this Steelers' young defense is up in the air. Even Head Coach Mike Tomlin has expressed some doubt in the unit.
Whether the defensive unit steps up or not will be the Steelers' biggest question heading into the year, if they can, this team is dangerous.
#4: Cleveland Browns (OVR 75)
"Even Madden NFL 16 has a quarterback controversy in Cleveland, with Josh McCown (72 OVR) versus Johnny Manziel (71 OVR) too close to call. Free agent pickup Dwayne Bowe (83 OVR) is joined by Andrew Hawkins (80 OVR) and Brian Hartline (78 OVR) at receiver. Isaiah Crowell (74 OVR), Terrance West (73 OVR), and rookie Duke Johnson (73 OVR) will compete for the starting HB slot.It looks like rookie Danny Shelton (75 OVR) will start at NT alongside RE Desmond Bryant (79 OVR) and LE Randy Starks (79 OVR). Notable returning defensive players include MLB Karlos Dansby (90 OVR), CB Joe Haden (90 OVR), and SS Donte Whitner (90 OVR)."
Poor Cleveland. I think they're genuinely a decent QB away from being a fringe playoff team. With a Top-10 O-Line, good running backs, great secondary players and linebackers, the Browns are pretty solid everywhere but QB.
Until the Browns find their franchise QB, they'll be stuck in the land of mediocrity.
So readers, do you think Madden got their stuff right this year?