(USA TODAY) - Expect another stunning finish in Sunday's Super Bowl matchup between the New England Patriots and New York Giants. And expect a familiar result, if events play out as predicted by the annual EA Sports Madden NFL Super Bowl simulation.
The simulation, played out last week by the video game publishers, resulted in Patriots quarterback Tom Brady passing for 327 yards and three touchdowns - and one interception - but Eli Manning and the Giants won 27-24 on a field goal by Lawrence Tynes.
"We made all the proper adjustments to the Patriots and Giants and accounted for injuries and all that and put them in the Super Bowl stadium and simmed it away," says EA Sports' director of marketing Anthony Stevenson. "It came out a repeat of history."
Since 2004 when EA Sports predicted that the Patriots would beat the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII, its simulation played through the Madden NFL video game engine has been remarkably reliable. It has correctly predicted six of the last eight Super Bowl outcomes, but incorrectly last year chose the Steelers to beat the Packers.
Past Madden simulation winners:
- Super Bowl XXXVII - Patriots 23, Panthers 20
- Actual Score: Patriots 32, Panthers 29
- Super Bowl XXXIX - Patriots 47, Eagles 31
- Actual Score: Patriots 24, Eagles 21
- Super Bowl XL - Steelers 24, Seahawks 19
- Actual Score: Steelers 21, Seahawks 10
- Super Bowl - XLI - Colts 38, Bears 27
- Actual Score: Colts 29, Bears 17
- Super Bowl XLIII - Steelers 28, Cardinals 24
- Actual Score: Steelers 27, Cardinals 23
- Super Bowl XLIV - Saints 35, Colts 31
- Actual Score: Saints 31, Colts 17
Ironically, it also fumbled the Giants' victory in 2008 over the Patriots. "What was really exciting was the Steelers-Cardinals game game," in Super Bowl XLIII in 2009, Stevenson says. "Our (predicted 28-24) score was only off by a point (on each team; the Steelers won 27-23). And we got the MVP right. We had Santonio Holmes getting nine catches and 140 yards." The MVP-winning receiver did catch nine for 131 yards and a touchdown.
As the simulation goes, Manning connects with Victor Cruz for the first score, a 40-yard touchdown pass, and the Giants never trail. Its defense harasses Brady, sacking him four times. Meanwhile, the Giants running game produces enough success for a balanced offensive attack.
To see a video of the action, go to EA Sports' Youtube page. There, you can also cast your vote on who you think will win the Super Bowl and watch many fan-created videos. EA Sports simulation trailer is also embedded below.
The return of running back Ahmad Bradshaw, who did not play in the Nov. 6 regular season meeting of the teams, helped swing the tide for the Giants. "When they have him in their offense, they have a lot more flexibility and versatility in their run game," says Madden game designer Anthony White. "So the (Patriots) defense now has to look out for that other element. Not to mention the fact that Cruz, (Mario) Manningham and (Hakeem) Nicks are the best trio of receivers in the NFL. They have a full complement of weapons to work with now to attack that porous Patriots defense, even though (their defense) has been playing better."
Madden video game players have been playing the matchup on their own video game systems. In more than 30,000 playings, the Patriots have won 50.5% of the games - the Giants 49.5% -- with the average score of 24-21.
One possible reason for the Patriots prevailing in those games,Madden NFL 12 players won't get updated post-championship game player and team updates until Friday. Those updates will reflect the continued Giants' improvements on both sides of the ball and Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski's reported injury.
"We are not that dissimilar from Las Vegas. Vegas is very interested in that injury. Is it a high ankle sprain, or is it not?" Stevenson says. "We do the same thing. We know that even if he plays, and he is expected to, it is absolutely impossible with a high ankle sprain that you can run 100% as if you weren't injured. So that affects his speed, that affects his route running, and we take all that into account."