The New York Giants will claim their fourth Super Bowl title on Sunday, according to EA Sports' official Madden NFL 12 simulation, which has New York defeating New England 27-24 on a 40-yard field goal as time expires.
For the third consecutive year, Madden's simulation has picked the Las Vegas underdog (the Patriots are three-point favorites in most sports books). While EA Sports' flagship title missed last year when it called for a Pittsburgh Steelers triumph, it is 6-2 straight up (and 5-3 versus the point spread) since Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004.
EA Sports' simulation uses the most recent roster update and depth chart available to all gamers, and is run once on a standard console. Both teams are computer-controlled and artificial intelligence and penalty sliders are not adjusted, but injuries are enabled. The video above shows the game being played with full 15-minute quarters, suggesting it may have been run through the game's Super Sim menu, as it was in 2010. In any event, no human hands touched this result, other than those building the game and rating the players, of course.
In the simulation, the Patriots rallied from a 24-10 deficit in the fourth quarter to tie the game. New England linebacker Brandon Spikes set up the tying score with a critical interception of Giants quarterback Eli Manning at midfield. Tom Brady then found Wes Welker for a 14-yard touchdown pass with 1:50 left to draw even at 24.
But no Super Bowl has yet gone to overtime, and this one would not either. Manning hit receivers Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks repeatedly on short routes to get the Giants within field goal range with three seconds left. Kicker Lawrence Tynes then banged through a 40-yarder as time expired to give New York the thrilling win.
The simulation calls for Manning to win the Super Bowl MVP, going 25-for-39 with two touchdowns. Madden says Brady will throw for 327 yards and three touchdowns in a losing effort.
While predicting specific outcomes is, to use a betting euphemism, "for entertainment purposes only," Madden has been solidly accurate in its picks over the past eight years. However, for the first time last year, Madden missed both straight-up and against the point spread when it called for the three-point underdog Steelers to win 23-20 (they lost to the favored Green Bay Packers 31-25). The other time Madden incorrectly picked a Super Bowl winner, the Patriots and Giants also were the combatants, in Super Bowl XLII.
But the more recent results also suggest some refinement of the game's artificial intelligence. In the simulation's history, Madden did not pick an underdog until it took Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints to win Super Bowl XLIV. The game also had returned total point scores way over the bookmakers' over/under figure until last year, when Madden's predicted 23-20 final score took the under for the first time ever. At 51 points, this simulation likewise comes in under the Vegas line of 54.5 to 55 points.