Regardless of their personal team affiliations, the game designers at EA Sports have cause to celebrate the outcome of last night’s Super Bowl XLIX. With the New England Patriots’ victory over defending champs, the Seattle Seahawks, EA’s Madden NFL 15 Super Bowl simulation correctly predicted both the winner and the final score (28-24) of the big game.
The simulation results, which EA first released last week along with a flashy animation of the game’s highlights, marked the twelfth Super Bowl matchup ran through the ringer of Madden NFL’s artificial intelligence, and yielded some of its most impressive, and specific, predictions to date.
The sim correctly predicted the Seahawks would be leading 24-14 after a dominant third quarter, but only until a rally by the Pats and a touchdown pass to wide receiver Julian Edelman would turn the tides back in New England’s favor. It also predicted QB Tom Brady would be named MVP after passing for 335 yards and 4 touchdowns. Eerily, in real life Brady was only 7 yards shy of sim-Brady’s mark, passing for 328 and 4 touchdowns. On the receiving end of those passes, Madden predicted Edelman would be Brady’s top target, with 8 catches and 106 yards. Edelman outdid his digital double by only 1 catch and 3 yards.
The simulation did not predict Chris Matthews’ tremendous rise out of obscurity. Despite having never caught a pass in the NFL, the wide receiver went on to catch 4 for 109 yards and scored a touchdown for Seattle. The simulation also did not predict Malcolm Butler’s shocking goal-line interception, which clinched the game for New England (and inspired an exasperated chorus of 50 million “Why didn’t you give it to Lynch?!” tweets).
With last night’s win, Madden NFL’s Super Bowl record improves to 9-3. Soon, we won’t even need to watch the games; EA will just tell us who to give the Lombardi trophy to before the first kickoff of the season.
[Correction: an earlier version of this article said this was the fifteenth run of the simulation. It was the twelfth, but ran on Madden NFL 15.]