Sunday, October 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Madden NFL 17 predicts playoffs for Jameis Winston and the Bucs

Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are headed to the playoffs.

So says Madden NFL 17, the newest installment of EA Sports' freakishly realistic video game franchise.

Preseason results are just noise and aren't reliable predictors of regular-season success, so I turned to Madden for a look into the Bucs' future. On Tuesday, the day the game hit stores, I simulated the 2016 season 10 times. Despite an overall team rating of 79 — tied for ninth-lowest — the Bucs averaged 8.4 wins a season and reached the postseason four times. It's okay if you can't remember the last time they played in a real-life playoff game. It's been awhile — January 6, 2008, a 24-14 loss to the New York Giants, the eventual Super Bowl champion.

Four playoff appearances in 10 simulations might not sound like a strong success rate, but it's progress. When I did this exercise before the 2015 season, the Bucs didn't reach the playoffs a single time. In fact, they finished better than 6-10 only once — a 9-7 campaign that fell just short of a wild-card berth.

That's the good news. While Madden predicts an end to the playoff drought, the game does not forecast a victory. Each time the Bucs reached the postseason, they were bounced in the first round, twice by the Rams, once by Washington and once by the Vikings. Tampa Bay has not won a playoff game since it won the 2002 Super Bowl.

Here are the game-by-game averages of the 10 simulated seasons.

OpponentBucs' recordPoints forPoints against
Week 1 at Atlanta Falcons4-625.229.6
Week 2 at Arizona Cardinals7-326.420.9
Week 3 vs. Los Angeles Rams2-815.426.3
Week 4 vs. Denver Broncos5-4-122.624.6
Week 5 at Carolina Panthers6-426.822.4
Bye
Week 7 at San Francisco 49ers9-127.013.2
Week 8 vs. Oakland Raiders5-525.821.6
Week 9 vs. Atlanta Falcons3-722.023.2
Week 10 vs. Chicago Bears8-222.520.3
Week 11 at Kansas City Chiefs3-722.925.9
Week 12 vs. Seattle Seahawks9-128.523.4
Week 13 at San Diego Chargers6-427.226.7
Week 14 vs. New Orleans Saints5-520.025.3
Week 15 at Dallas Cowboys3-726.031.9
Week 16 at New Orleans Saints2-821.828.9
Week 17 vs. Carolina Panthers7-322.921.8

The playoffs and Super Bowl 51

In my simulations, the fallout from Deflategate didn't slow Tom Brady and the Patriots one bit. New England was the only team to reach the playoffs in all 10 seasons, and it won the Super Bowl four times, also more than any other team. Imagine the exchanges between Brady and Roger Goodell during the Lombardi Trophy presentations — awkwaaaaaaard.

Twelve different teams reached the Super Bowl, including the Rams, who somehow did so twice. The Steelers, Chargers and Cowboys also appeared in multiple Super Bowls, with only the Steelers winning more than once.

Seven teams failed to make at least one trip to the playoffs. Five of them won't surprise you: the Dolphins, Browns, Colts, Bears and 49ers. Two went deep into the playoffs last season: the Broncos and Cardinals.

Contact Thomas Bassinger at [email protected] Follow @tometrics.

Comments
Bucs fear linebacker Kwon Alexander suffered a torn ACL, may be lost for the season

Bucs fear linebacker Kwon Alexander suffered a torn ACL, may be lost for the season

With 18 seconds left in the first half Sunday, Kwon Alexander blitzed Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield. The Bucs linebacker took an awkward step and went down in a heap, grabbing his right knee.Alexander will have an MRI Monday, but the Bucs believe...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bucs-Browns: Grading Tampa Bay’s 26-23 overtime victory over Cleveland

Bucs-Browns: Grading Tampa Bay’s 26-23 overtime victory over Cleveland

TAMPA — Had it all the way.Man, are the Browns bad.Man, the Bucs are, too.It was an awful affair. The Bucs couldn't get away. The Browns wouldn't go away. Overtime.This game deserved to end in a tie.No.Meet the hero, Chandler Catanzaro, whose 5...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs-Browns: Chandler Catanzaro, Tampa Bay redeem themselves in 26-23 overtime win

Bucs-Browns: Chandler Catanzaro, Tampa Bay redeem themselves in 26-23 overtime win

TAMPA — Chandler Catanzaro needed redemption. So did the Bucs.Having missed an extra point and a 40-yard field goal to win the game at the end of regulation, Catanzaro connected on a career-long 59-yard field goal with 1:50 remaining in overtim...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs-Browns: The most important play so far

Bucs-Browns: The most important play so far

TAMPA — The Bucs' defense is pitching a shutout, even if it's offense isn't.Tampa Bay led Cleveland, 16-2, at halftime Sunday at Raymond James Stadium, and yes, they are the Browns. But a Bucs defense that ranked as the NFL's worst by seve...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Bucs fans vs. Browns fans: Who has had it worse?

Bucs fans vs. Browns fans: Who has had it worse?

TAMPA — If the Bucs had an NFL brother from another mother, it would be the Browns.They've shared a lot more than Vinny Testaverde.Fan bases scarred by historic losing streaks, threats and effects of franchise relocation and decades of sad Sund...
Published: 10/20/18
Updated: 10/21/18
Bucs Dirk Koetter has put the team ahead of himself again

Bucs Dirk Koetter has put the team ahead of himself again

TAMPA — Say this for the Bucs' Dirk Koetter: He's not the kind of head coach who puts himself ahead of the team.In the offseason, Koetter began the process of handing over the offensive play-calling duties to Todd Monken.When it produced more p...
Published: 10/20/18
Sound-Smarter-Than-Your-Friends Guide: The Bucs are the Browns and the Browns are the Bucs

Sound-Smarter-Than-Your-Friends Guide: The Bucs are the Browns and the Browns are the Bucs

It was always this game.Not the Saints. Not the Eagles. Not the Steelers.The Browns.When the NFL released the Bucs’ schedule in April, the Browns were an afterthought. The first three games were the main attraction. If Tampa Bay could survive t...
Published: 10/20/18
Browns’ late trade forcing Bucs to make late adjustments

Browns’ late trade forcing Bucs to make late adjustments

TAMPA — The Bucs were already prepared to see the Cleveland Browns establish their vaunted running game on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium, but now, they will have to adjust their game plan to see more of rookie running back Nick Chubb than the...
Published: 10/20/18
Why this is the biggest Bucs game of the season

Why this is the biggest Bucs game of the season

TAMPA — It's only the sixth game of the season.Pretty early to have already arrived at the edge of the cliff. And yet, here we are. The Bucs are at the edge of the cliff. Looking down.A loss Sunday against the lowly Browns (1 p.m., FOX) and the...
Published: 10/19/18
Updated: 10/20/18
Injuries could give Bucs rush end Noah Spence opportunity vs. Browns

Injuries could give Bucs rush end Noah Spence opportunity vs. Browns

TAMPA — Noah Spence walked off the field Friday afternoon dripping with sweat. His practice jersey was a darker shade of red, the result of another day of work trying to get back on the NFL radar.Bucs coach Dirk Koetter lauds the defensive end'...
Published: 10/19/18