Madden 17 Franchise Mode Team Guide

With only a few weeks until Madden 17 is officially released we now know the top rated players at most positions.  This seems to be more important to Madden’s online players than anyone else.  Sure, it might be nice to know these things for some sort of subjective discussion about which player is better or simply deserves a better ‘Overall’ rating.

For the rest of us the ratings that really matter are position specific as well as the ‘under the hood’ ratings like ‘Potential’, etc.  These ratings drive our Franchise Mode every season from deciding who to cut in week three of the pre-season to who will be placed further down the depth chart.  Madden isn’t friendly to developing players on the bench.  So, deciding which player you will use at QB is going to be crucial just as it will be important to look at other young players that might need to train up somehow – more on player editing to come.

Going into my first season of Franchise Mode I try my best to stay true to how my team is going through the pre-season, etc.  The problem with this mindset is the same I talk about every year.  This isn’t ‘real life’ this is your team and your Franchise Mode.  It is with that consideration that I am putting together the Madden 17 Franchise Mode Team Selection Guide.

 With that said, here’s the Madden 17 Franchise Mode Team Selection Guide

Arizona Cardinals – A team that is in ‘win it all mode’ doesn’t need a lot of work to win you a Super Bowl in the first season of your franchise mode. They will need to start looking for a new franchise QB as well as a replacement for the aging Larry Fitzgerald as he and Carson Palmer both work into the twilight of their careers.  This is one of the better defenses in the league as well and hopefully EA will make sure to update the Mathieu contract in the first update if they haven’t already.

Atlanta Falcons – For being a team that has been a middle of the pack contender in recent years they have really struggled to make up for a couple seasons of terrible defense.  They don’t have a defensive identity and Matt Ryan is looking more like a mediocre Philip Rivers as every season goes by.  Thankfully, they do have Julio Jones at WR and two decent HBs in Freeman and Coleman.  Not to mention the off-season signing of Alex Mack at Center.  This is a solid option if you like to have a couple pieces in place before starting a Franchise.

Baltimore Ravens – Speaking of mediocre and overrated Quarterbacks – Joe Flacco is both of those things coupled with being over-paid for his talent level.  It seems that if any team is almost totally in rebuild mode with money sunk into aging and overrated players this is one of those teams. WR’s are all injury prone and your HB situation is suspect at best.  Add to this situation a defense that seems to be getting by on name recognition more than actual talent – the Ravens could be a nice sleeper team to have a bit of fun rebuilding both in talent and in budget.

Buffalo Bills – The Bills have a couple great playmakers in McCoy at HB and Watson at WR. Their QB, Tyrod Taylor is a poor man’s Mike Vick. Sure, he put up some decent numbers last year, but no one building a Franchise outside of Virginia Tech fanboys is going to want Taylor as their QB of the future.  Defensively the Bills are stout.  They could use some upgrades at virtually every position, but they also aren’t bad if you want to use the saying ‘bend, don’t break’.

Carolina Panthers – Back from a loss in the Super Bowl.  The Panthers are back and this time they will have their #1 WR in Kelvin Benjamin.  They could use an upgrade at HB and it wouldn’t be shocking in my view to see them take one in the first round of the 2017 Draft.  This team is a monster defensively, even without the loud mouth that was/is Josh Norman.  Keep this team healthy and you will be in the Super Bowl again in 2016.

Chicago Bears – A team with one of the most overrated and overhated players in the league in Jay Cutler has some serious question marks coming into 2016.  Alshon Jeffery is destined to become a free agent in 2017 and the rest of the team seems to be made up of place holders with unproven talent.  WR, Kevin White and HB, Jeremy Langford could be the answer the Bears need for losing two great (albeit aging) players at those positions over the last couple seasons.  On defense they have still been trying to find an identity after losing Urlacher to retirement.  This is one of my favorite teams to suggest to anyone looking for a rebuild in a tough division that actually has different weather during the season.

Cincinnati Bengals – They are still looking like the favorites to win the AFC North.  Andy Dalton is going to be your solid and tough QB that shouldn’t get you more than 30 TDs a year.  That said, you have AJ Green, but you have lost a couple WRs in the offseason.  Still, the offensive line is good and if he can stay healthy, Eifert will make opposing defensive unit cringe.  On defense you are going to be pretty much set.  There is no such thing as personal fouls or ejections in Madden for dirty players like Vontaze Burfict – so have fun with that.

Cleveland Browns – My beloved Browns.  What can I say?  They are the consistent choice among Madden Franchise Mode junkies that want to build a constant loser into a winner.  The Browns are intriguing in many ways though.  On offense you get a chance to redeem the career of Robert Griffin III. You also get a fresh batch of WRs and Josh Gordon should actually play this season (sit him the first four games if you want to – I plan on sitting him during my Franchise Mode for that time period). The running backs are really only two-deep as Crowell and Johnson are very much ‘thunder and lightning’.  It might be worth drafting a HB in the 2017 Draft with the Browns as well.  On defense they desperately need a new SS and FS as well as someone to compliment Joe Haden at the other CB spot since Justin Gilbert looks like he might have to play nickel – if that.  

Dallas Cowboys – Somehow, the Cowboys always manage to look like a team or at least sound like a team destined to rebound from yet another season of disappointment.  This season their defense already looks like a trailer park dumpster fire.  Now they are hoping that Romo doesn’t die on the field or the like.  Couple that with having the oft-injured Dez Bryant and you would think that this team is a terrible choice.  Well, maybe in real life.  In Madden 17 with the initial rosters, this could be one of the best teams to pick if you want to push for a Super Bowl.  You will want to upgrade the defensive secondary and draft a QB or two in the 2017 Draft, but otherwise, you have one heck of a roster.

Denver Broncos – From world champions and Hall of Fame QB to riding your defense to victory.  Most people will probably make the switch to Paxton Lynch as their starter in Franchise Mode.  If you consider the fact that the Broncos have lost no one but an ancient Peyton Manning they might be a lock for most people to win another Super Bowl easily in the first season of Franchise mode.  You will want to look into drafting a new HB in 2017 and probably load up that O Line as well.

Detroit Lions – The Browns of the NFC!  Detroit lost Calvin Johnson just like they lost Barry Sanders. Now they have… well… Matt Stafford?  If there were a team I’d give anyone props for taking in an online Franchise Mode with a bunch of friends it would be the Lions.  They are a mess from the top to the bottom.  You might consider setting your 2016 season goal to 7 wins if you play with decent difficulty sliders.  You need to build this team through the draft and you will need to make sure that it includes a backup QB, starting HB and a WR that will hopefully make everyone forget about Megatron.  Good luck with that.

Green Bay Packers – If this team stays healthy they are a lock for the playoffs.  You have the obvious in Aaron Rodgers and Co.  The only thing you might want to look into at this point is getting some younger WRs and consider the possibility of replacing Clay Matthews or at least backing him up as he ages.  A new Tight End in the draft would only help matters. 

Houston Texans – One of the teams that reminds me of Madden 06.  Why?  Because you have a huge arm at QB with Osweiler and two speedsters at WR with Hopkins and Fuller.  Not to mention the fact that you now have Lamar Miller and his speed at HB.  Yeah, the Texans look awesome on paper this year.  Couple that with the obvious presence of Watt (99 OVR) and Clowney and Co. on defense… this is a scary team to face.

Indianapolis Colts – They have invested in fixing the O-Line for Luck and even signed your QB for the next half decade or so.  You will want to replace the ancient Frank Gore at HB and probably get yourself a new tall WR to help Luck out a bit more on offense.  On defense you need to figure out in which order you want to replace everyone.  The Colts defense is strikingly bad and yet somehow they aren’t talked about for their terrible nature. 

Jacksonville Jaguars – If you want the young up and coming team this is it.  They have some great young players on both sides of the ball.  A franchise QB, a tough running HB in Yeldon, two great WRs and Julius Thomas at TE.  Then on defense they have two of the top rated players from the 2016 draft in Ramsey and Myles Jack.  This team scares the hell out of me on Madden and in real life – they might just surprise everyone this year – except Jaguars fans… and me. 

Kansas City Chiefs – They are in big salary trouble and that means you will need to figure out your plan of attack.  I suggest trading away your biggest salary hogs early on and hope you can get a couple draft picks in return.  You need to get a real answer to the aging Jamaal Charles at HB and desperately need to get more WRs on this team.  For being a passing league, the Chiefs make you think they will try to win with a 30 year old HB kept together with a bit of duct tape and glue.  Their defense is high end, but will you be able to afford to keep all of them? Doubtful.

Los Angeles Rams – I’ve been through St. Louis once and that is enough for me to understand why the Rams would move to Los Angeles.  Yes, I have love for the midwest as I am from Ohio, but wow… talk about getting a team full of weapons and having them in a new shiny stadium!?  This might be the most enjoyable team to build around new QB Jared Goff and what looks like the next great HB in Todd Gurley.  You have another 99 OVR player in Aaron Donald on defense as well.  All said and done, you will want to look into investing some draft picks in WRs if possible.  Granted, with the trade to get Goff you might have to search for the hidden late round gems for a couple years.

Miami Dolphins – It’s hard to decide how to build this team.  The offense needs new players virtually everywhere.  The defense has Suh at DT and a couple other pieces as well.  In all honesty, the Dolphins are a team with a new coveted head coach and I am willing to bet that whoever takes this team will do so with the singular goal of finding a new QB to build around first and foremost. 

Minnesota Vikings – They have a great coach (which never matters in Madden) and it looks like Teddy Bridgewater might be a solid game manager at QB.  With a couple great young WRs it seems to me that you really need to find Adrian Peterson’s replacement sooner rather than later.  Then add a couple pieces to the defense and you will be fighting the Packers for NFC North dominance in short order.

New England Patriots – The Patriots are the football version of the San Antonio Spurs.  They are designed to win around two people – Their Hall of Fame cheater of a QB in Tom Brady and their (doesn’t matter in Madden) Hall of Fame Coach that isn’t actually in the game anyway.  Brady is going to be done soon.  Most Patriots users are going to try and install Garopolo as the heir-apparent.  I must ask other than Gronkowski (who is at his peak and probably passing it quickly) who else on this team is really a piece you’d consider ‘the future’.  The Patriots are a great team and should get you to a Super Bowl in the first couple seasons of Franchise Mode.  However, you are going to need to invest in draft picks early on if you have any hope of maintaining their dynastic dominance.  Who are we kidding, most Patriots users will play on Rookie difficulty and run up the score on every team.  Just joking…

Not really.

New Orleans Saints – The Saints are in a similar boat as the Patriots, but they do have a decent power HB in Ingram with good young WRs and Fleener at TE.  They do need a lot of help on defense and this should be where you focus your growth as well.  Draft for defense and try to find a replacement for Brees and you will pose a real threat to the Panthers again soon.

New York Giants – The story of the day is aging QBs.  Manning is a good one to get you through a few more seasons, but you will want to have someone behind him.  Your HB is over 30 and there isn’t much help behind him.  Two great WRs (one is a rookie in Shepard… the other is the amazing OBJ).  Get yourself some more help on an improving defense and the Giants will be a favorite for the division nearly every year.

New York Jets – The Jets somehow don’t look as crappy as they always seem like that should.  You have Hackenberg waiting in the wings and two veteran WRs in Marshall and Decker.  You also have an older HB in Forte that will need to be replaced soon.  The defense has been the bread and butter of the Jets for years and this year is no different. You will want to find a new CB as Revis ages, but focus on your offensive aging and you should be up there with the Patriots.

Oakland Raiders – The Raiders really just need a defensive backfield.  Get your DB situation fixed and this team will pose a major threat to anyone. The offense is somehow looking like a dangerous deal with Derek Carr, Murray at HB and Cooper at WR.  The Raiders are going to be a fun team to use as they are young on both sides and Kalil Mack will be the only guy you want to control on defense.

Philadelphia Eagles – If any team gets to be laughed at it is the Eagles.  You basically lost your picks for Carson Wentz.  I imagine most Eaglers users will implement him immediately rather than sitting him like they hope to in real life.  Even with that they have an HB made out of glass in Ryan Mathews and one decent WR in Jordan Matthews. Zach Ertz at TE is nothing to get excited about. Then on defense you have a steaming pile of nothing impressive.  If ever a gamer wanted to start with a team that was shredded by a former coach it would be the Eagles.  Good luck and godspeed.

Pittsburgh Steelers – As I’ve stated before. Madden doesn’t have real life things like suspensions.  This means that Le’Veon Bell will never get suspended as he should.  The same goes for his fellow pot smoking teammate, Martavis Bryant at WR.  This basically leaves the door open for people to dominate with the Steelers and their great weapons on offense – including Antonio Brown and the newly signed TE, Ledarius Green.  On defense they are a team that is still rebuilding from their dominance with Polamalu, but that shouldn’t take long in the draft.  They will be up there with the Bengals for the AFC North as long as you have Roethlisberger and a decent backup/future starter at QB.

San Diego Chargers – The Chargers drafted Joey Bosa at DE and have the pieces they need to be a threat, but they aren’t that scary.  You will want to get another WR to take pressure off of Keenan Allen and certainly must replace Antonio Gates as soon as you can.  Rivers isn’t going to get any younger either, so you might want to focus on how to fix your aging offense before this middle of the pack team totally bonks out altogether.

San Francisco 49ers – It’s a damn good thing that your coach doesn’t matter in Madden.  Chip Kelly is in San Francisco now and it doesn’t look like they are going to do much to help him improve his name.  Carlos Hyde is a great HB to have as he is still young.  Kaepernick is a Madden friendly QB as he has mobility, etc. but really, you will want to find new players at almost every position.  You might as well start with a new coach as Kelly should never have been hired to coach anywhere anyway.

Seattle Seahawks – No more Marshawn Lynch. You do still have a dominant defense and Russell Wilson and the brittle Jimmy Graham at TE.  It would be a great idea to invest in new WRs and a couple new HBs to compete with Rawls for the starting spot.  Sherman won’t be great for much longer either, so look into a couple defenders as well.  Otherwise, the Seahawks are still a team built to win it all for the next couple years – even if only defensively. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – A young team with a strong offense built around Winston.  You will want to find a couple new WRs and a TE soon.  Make sure to continue investing in your defense as you need to compete with the likes of the Panthers and Saints – that’s not fun if you can’t play defense. The Bucs are a team that should get you to the playoffs within the next two seasons

Tennessee Titans – Mariota looked good when he was healthy and in Madden he is a strong QB for a mobile/west coast system.  Invest in your O-Line to protect him and build up your lacking defense.  The Titans look like a fun team to build if you know what you’re wanting to make them into.  I suggest taking a look at what you want to do defensively and either start fresh with a new system or try and use the couple pieces they have.

Washington Redskins – It’s hard to look at Cousins as a long term answer… it’s more difficult yet to see him as a fun QB to build around.  He isn’t as exciting in Madden as he is in real life with his ‘did you like that?’ attitude.  They have a great TE in Reed, but their WRs are old minus the new rookie in Doctson.  It will be interesting to see how people build the Redskins as I think they could be one of the more interesting teams to grab ahold of and truly make into your own.

Picking Your Team In Connected Careers Mode – Madden 13 (Player Edition)

It is the first and most important question you must ask before you play a career mode in any sports game.

“On which team should I choose to coach or play?”

In Madden 13 you will first have to make a choice as to whether you want to be a player or a coach.  In that spirit, we are happy to present you with a full summary of each team’s needs as they are provided by EA Sports in the Connected Careers manual – although they are completely re-worded.

Choosing to be a player will entail a bit more focus on where and how you want your career to start.  The goals you will have to achieve will differ depending on your back-story; but the real decision you need to make as a player will be which team you want to try and become a starter.  This all comes back to which players each team needs and that is our focus in this article – the easiest teams and positions to start a career in Madden 13 as a player.

Arizona Cardinals – Quarterback, Tight End, Outside Linebacker and Cornerback

When it comes to playing for the Cardinals, they could be the top choice for many wanna-be Quarterbacks.  You will start with having one of the best receivers in the league in Larry Fitzgerald and also one of the better young prospects in Michael Floyd.  Outside of that, you shouldn’t have a lot of competition from the likes of John Skelton or the apparently terrible trade acquisition of Kevin Kolb.

Arizona also has a wide open role for someone to play Tight End (TE), granted – this means you will have to also replace hometown hero, Todd Heap who played his college ball in Arizona.  Here’s hoping you can get the QB to throw you the ball when you are competing for touches with Fitzgerald and Floyd though.

On defense it is really a matter of either being an effective outside linebacker or being the other cornerback to help the outstanding Patrick Peterson.  Peterson is quickly becoming one of the most impressive young talents in the NFL but he can only guard one receiver at a time.  That could be a good opening for you to step up and help in Arizona.

Atlanta Falcons – Guard, Middle Linebacker, Strong Safety, Tight End and Quarterback

Starting your career in Atlanta will present you with a tough task as a player.  If you want to be a starting QB you will probably have to wait at least one season to overtake Matt Ryan.  Although, the potential is there to amaze coaches as the second coming of Brett Favre (sorry Falcons fans – had to say it) you will have to earn your stripes and prove that you are better than Matty Ice.

The Falcons need some help on defense and that will give you a nice opportunity to try and step in as a Middle Linebacker or a Strong Safety.  The benefit of these positions is that they give you a great opportunity to be an enforcer on defense.  Want to lay out receivers coming over the middle – why not do it in Hotlanta?

Baltimore Ravens – Outside Linebacker, Safety, Tight End and Cornerback

Baltimore was a true title contender last season.  Naturally, they really don’t have a lot of needs but that doesn’t mean you can’t play there.  Your best bet is to come in as a receiving Tight End to help Joe Flacco with a decent outlet when his receivers can’t get open.

You are also looking at openings at Linebacker and Cornerback as the Ravens are starting to age on defense, they will need to find replacements for players like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.  Outside linebacker might give you a solid chance to come in as a pass rushing monster in Baltimore.

Buffalo Bills – Quarterback, Wide Receiver, Tight End, Cornerback and Safety

It isn’t really a question of whether you will play much on the Bills.  It is a question of where you want to play.  Buffalo hasn’t had a real Quarterback since Jim Kelly and their receivers aren’t exactly big names either.  Stevie Johnson can easily be complimented with a WR that can run routes decently (and not drop easy touchdowns to win big games).  The same can really be said at Tight End as the Bills need all the help they can get.

On defense, they have the line on lock with the likes of Marcel Dareus and Mario Williams.  However, that doesn’t mean you can’t provide aid as a defensive back like a prototype cornerback or even a balanced safety.  When it comes to Buffalo, don’t expect a lot of wins – but there is a lot of room for you to get playing time and maybe even build them into a winner behind your efforts.

Carolina Panthers – Guard, Wide Receiver and Free Safety

Want a good piece of advice?  Don’t try to be a Quarterback for the Panthers.  You won’t be overtaking Cam Newton any time soon.  On the other hand, you can come in an compliment Steve Smith as a decent route running WR or look to start as soon as possible as a Free Safety.  With the Panthers, there really aren’t a ton of options because they are so young and talented.  However, when it comes down to it there are some openings for you to jump in and join the fray.

Chicago Bears – Offensive Line, Defensive Tackle and Safety

Da Bears are one of the most talented teams in the NFL and you will have a tough time starting from the get-go.  However, if you are looking for a more sure-fire way to start for the Bears  you should try to become a receiving tight end or possibly a safety.  If you want to eventually become the next Middle Linebacker in Chicago, you will have to serve as a back-up for Brian Urlacher and earn your stripes.

Cincinnati Bengals – Red-Zone Threat Wide Receiver, Tight End, Right Guard, Field General Quarterback  and Strong Safety

The Bengals are an interesting situation because if you want to be the quarterback that brings them back to their Super Bowl days of the late 1980s you will need to be a solid Field General.  Andy Dalton is good, but you can come in and replace him with a little bit of work and focus on being consistent.  AJ Green is the #1 WR on this team, but they need a second option – so if you don’t want to try and replace the Ginger Ninja, you can always come in and catch passes from him.  You can also push for a spot as the Bengals runningback as they have been a team in flux at that position since Corey Dillon left the team years ago.

On defense you will have a hard time getting a starting job as they are one of the best defenses in the NFL.  However, they can always use a great enforcer at strong safety and if you don’t mind laying down the law they won’t mind you in Cincinnati.

Cleveland Browns – West Coast Quarterback, Red-Zone Threat Wide Receiver, Left Guard, Right Tackle and Run Supporting Safety

Face it, Cleveland is terrible if you want a winning team.  However, if you want a chance to start and bring the team back to the glory days of the 1960s or even the mid-1980s you could always be the West Coast Quarterback that the team has been waiting for.  While you shouldn’t try to come in and replace the highly touted Trent Richardson at HB there is definitely an opening for you to step in as the #1 Wide Receiver for Brandon Weeden.

On the defensive side of the ball the Browns are only a few pieces short of being one of the best teams in the league.  They are pretty much set on the defensive line but that shouldn’t keep you from pushing for a spot as a run supporting safety or maybe even a decent outside linebacker.

Dallas Cowboys – Speed Wide Receiver, Balanced Free Safety, Prototype Strong Safety

The Cowboys have some solid options at WR, but the door is open to come in as a Speed WR and contribute right away. Even with a little practice and standout games in the preseason, you may just start the season as Tony Romo’s go-to guy. On defense, you can make a splash as a Balanced FS or Prototype SS.

Denver Broncos –

You won’t replace Peyton Manning any time soon.  However, you could always try and become his favorite target (assuming you can take he eyes off Demaryus Thomas) and become a possession WR that gladly flies over the middle like Wes Welker does for Tom Brady.  You could also try to emulate Dallas Clark and become a receiving TE that makes every dump-off throw look like an intentional pass because you are just that good.

On the defensive side of things the Broncos are aging at cornerback but could really use some help in the safety position.  Make it your mission to remind people of the great John Lynch or Brian Dawkins and you will be a welcome addition in Denver’s defense.

Detroit Lions – Speed Runningback, Run Support Safety, Balanced Cornerback and Possession Wide Receiver

Detroit is one of the more interesting teams to roll with because they are so young and talented at many positions but they are still lacking enough to make that final stride deep into the playoffs.  You can come in and prove yourself to be a great option at runningback if you do well in practices.  They really need someone to come in and convince opposing defenses that every play isn’t a pass.  In the same breath, you can also try and develop yourself to play second fiddle to Megatron (Calvin Johnson) and make secondaries hate playing the Lions even more.

Detroit still needs a lot of help in their own secondary and could use you right away if you are a great man coverage cornerback or a great safety – they won’t be picky.

Green Bay Packers – Balanced Runningback and Safety

The Packers were 15-1 last year and really don’t need a lot of help.  However, they do need someone to take some pressure off of Aaron Rodgers and run the ball a few times every game.  It might be tough to get a lot of yards rushing in this pass-happy offense – but if you want to make your mark as a starter early in the season, you have come to the right place.

On defense the Pack can really use someone at safety.  They lack the type of playmaking guy that other teams like the Steelers have in Polamalu and that would truly make this defense even more fearsome.

Houston Texans – Red Zone Threat Wide Receiver, Playmaking Strong Safety

Houston doesn’t need a lot of help in their tremendous offense, but Andre Johnson would appreciate you taking some of the pressure off of him as a second option for their passing attack.

On defense the Texans need an enforcer in the middle secondary and if you could prove to be that type of monster that makes people go “Woo!” you will be a welcome addition to the Texans’ defense.

Indianapolis Colts – Take Your Pick – Runningback, Receiver, Anything…

According the the CCM Manual you can even come in and replace Andrew Luck at QB.  While we would discourage this from a common sense perspective, it is pretty much your choice with the Colts.  Where they need the most help on offense is in the running game.  They built a team for passing with Peyton Manning but now they need to learn how to develop something that doesn’t implode after one guy leaves.

In that same breath, the Colts haven’t really had a feared defense.  They can use pretty much anyone as a linebacker and if you want to be a decent coverage cornerback, they could use you there as well.  This is a team in shambles and they need you more that you need them.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Field General Quarterback, Wide Receiver, Safety

The Jaguars are a team in flux.  They have a new owner that looks like Mario and with a name like Khan – it is only a matter of time before this sunshine state team feels his wrath with a move to Los Angeles.  That said, you can come in and replace their terrible Quarterbacks (take your pick) on day one.  The other move would be to come in as a receiver and hope the terrible quarterback situation will pan out at least for your stats – if not the win column.

On defense they really need someone to play safety.  It shouldn’t be too bad from a statistical point of view as the Jaguars are almost as terrible as the Colts.

Kansas City Chiefs – Field General Quarterback, Receiving Tight End, Run Stopping Strong Safety

The Chiefs thought they had a winner in Matt Cassell.  Little did they know that it was a stupid idea to assume a quarterback would do well just because he did a decent job on an elite team before his arrival.  Cassell can be replaced if you want to come in as a QB on Day One.  Outside of that, you can also be a receiving Tight End and make people forget about Tony Gonzalez.

On defense you can team up with Eric Berry and make it a very scary place for receivers to go.  Become an enforcer on defense and you might bring this team closer to ‘the next step’.

Miami Dolphins – West Coast QB, Wide Receiver, Receiving Tight End and Safety

The Dolphins have a strange quarterback situation that could allow you to jump ahead of Ryan Tannehill.  While we wouldn’t suggest that for the same reason we don’t suggest trying to overtake Andrew Luck (See the Colts, above) it is still possible.  On the other hand, the real spot to reach for will be as a Wide Receiver with the recent dismissal of Chad Johnson.  Assuming there is no option to head-butt your wife in Connected Careers, you should be guaranteed a spot on the Dolphins as a WR.

If you prefer, you can also try to become a receiving tight end for Tannehill and that could make you the next Rob Gronkowski.  At least when you are in South Beach you will have a legitimate reason to take your shirt off and make the cover of TMZ.

On defense you can come in and start as a safety simply because they are that desperate.  In Miami you really have a lot of options for a team that will have a tough road ahead in the talented AFC East.

Minnesota Vikings – West Coast Quarterback, Receiving Tight End, Cover 2 Middle Linebacker, Safety

The Vikings are a team that were on the cusp of greatness with Brett Favre only a few short years ago.  Since his third retirement they have been searching for hope in all the wrong places.  Adrian Peterson can’t do it by himself and you certainly can’t do better – so don’t try to step in at runningback.  You can come in at Quarterback on day one and compete to be the starter.  Also, there is plenty of room for you to be the receiving tight end that they haven’t had for a long time if ever.

On defense the Vikings have the great Jared Allen at defensive end.  However, you can come in and be the monster they need as a middle linebacker or even as a safety.  The Vikings had a top tier defense only a couple years ago.  It is time for someone to make them powerful again.

New England Patriots – Balanced Runningback, Man Coverage CB, Safety

On offense you need them more than they need you.  Tom Brady has no equal at his position and his receivers certainly don’t need your ‘depth’.  On the other hand, you can come in and be a decent runningback if you do well during the preseason.

On defense, the Pats could use someone to step up as a great cornerback or feared safety.  Outside of that you will have a relatively tough time playing in New England.

New Orleans Saints –  Red Zone Threat Wide Receiver, Run Support Cornerback

Unless you put out a bounty for Drew Brees you won’t be the quarterback for the Saints.  That said, you can be one of his receiving targets if you work hard as a red-zone receiver.  The Saints are one of the best offenses in the NFL, it will be tough to do much else.

On defense they are also stacked but could use you as a run support cornerback.  With enough hard work you can play for the Saints but when it is all said and done it will be tough to be a day one starter here in your first season.

New York Giants – Receiving Tight End, Balanced Middle Linebacker

The Giants won the Super Bowl last year.  They really don’t need a lot of help anywhere.  That said, Eli Manning could use you as a receiving tight end to help take pressure off his great receivers.

On defense you will have the best chance to overtake Chase Blackburn as middle linebacker.  Blackburn made an amazing interception while guarding Rob Gronkowski in the Super Bowl but you can try and become the ‘every play’ MLB if you perform well.

New York Jets – Balanced Quarterback, Outside Linebacker

The Jets have a quarterback controversy already.  The benefit for you is that neither of them is really that impressive.  Tebow is a name more than a real quarterback and Sanchez is one of the most overrated quarterbacks in recent memory.  You can come in and make everyone start screaming as there is a three way (don’t make this weird) quarterback controversy.

On the other hand, you can try and catch throws from these crappy QBs as a possession receiver that compliments Santonio Holmes.

Defense is the name of the game for the Jets as Rex Ryan has made them one of the best in the league.  However, if you want to make this defense that much better you are better off trying to do it as the LOLB.  Outside of that, you will have to wait awhile to play on this defense.

Oakland Raiders – Speed Wide Receiver, Prototype Cornerback

The Raiders haven’t changed much since the death of Al Davis.  They still prefer speed over anything and if you want to be that type of receiver that burns past everyone – Oakland is your home.  Otherwise, they are set with great talent on offense.

On defense they lost a lot when Nnamdi Asomugha left for Philly.  If you can be the prototype cornerback this team needs you might help them become a true playoff contender.

Philadelphia Eagles – Receiving Tight End, Prototype OLB, Run Support Strong Safety

The Eagles are talented.  While they weren’t the ‘Dream Team’ that some crackheads (Vince Young) thought they would be they are mighty powerful on offense.  Your best bet is to try and overtake Brent Celek as a receiving tight end by the end of your first season.  Outside of that, you really don’t have an offensive option to start in your rookie year.

On defense they need some help from the outside edge with an outside linebacker.  Their most glaring weakness is at safety – Brian Dawkins has been missed greatly and if you can be the enforcer they need you might have a home in Philly.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Good Luck… Receiving Tight End, Zone Coverage Cornerback

This is one of the most talented teams on both sides of the ball.  The Steelers are set pretty much everywhere, but you might be able to make an impact as a receiving tight end on offense.

On defense you won’t crack this starting lineup unless you try to be a zone coverage cornerback.  The Steelers are stacked and you will have to earn every snap on this team.

San Diego Chargers – Red Zone Threat Wide Receiver, Run Support Strong Safety

This is a talented team with an elite passer in Philip Rivers.  They lost Vincent Jackson to the Buccaneers and now you could step in and make people forget about the diva WR.  It is the perfect situation in the perfect offense for you to be a receiver.

On defense your best bet is to be a run supporting safety to help deal with the likes of the AFC West’s great runningbacks.

San Francisco 49ers – West Coast QB… anything else is going to be tough

In the off-season there were rumors about the 49ers pursuing Peyton Manning to replace Alex Smith.  Now you can take over that job as Smith is still in question as a true championship quarterback.  Take advantage of the pre-season to overtake the former #1 overall pick and then throw to some of the best receivers in the NFL.

On defense you are out of luck.  This is one of the best squads in the NFL and you won’t get playing time on defense.  Look elsewhere.

Seattle Seahawks – Field General Quarterback, Possession Wide Receiver, Outside Linebacker

Being the Quarterback in Seattle will be tough as they put a bunch of money into the ‘one game wonder’ Matt Flynn.  You might be the quarterback of the future if you can outperform him.  They can also use some help at wide receiver if you want to go that direction.

On defense the Seahawks let go of former top pick, Aaron Curry last season.  You can try to fill his shoes and be the player they need at Outside Linebacker.

St. Louis Rams – Balanced Wide Receiver, Outside Linebacker, Man Coverage Cornerback

Want to make the Rams into the ‘Greatest Show on Turf Part 2’?  Make yourself into a great receiver with Sam Bradford and you might be on your way to greatness.  Outside of that you can also go to the defensive side of the ball.

On defense you can make an impact as an outside linebacker or a man coverage cornerback.  In St. Louis they really need a lot of help everywhere.  If you can step up and perform against the divisional powerhouse in San Francisco you might be on the right track back to the Super Bowl.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Balanced Runningback, Balanced Defensive End, Cover 2 Middle Linebacker

Tampa could use another option outside of LeGarrette Blount and you could step in and show them what they are missing.  They got rid of Kellen Winslow and that should also give you hope to be a balanced tight end.

On defense you can step up and become the feared middle linebacker that the Bucs have been missing.  They could also use some help on the defensive line at the DE position.  Tampa has a tough division to face with great opposing quarterbacks but if you can become a monster that they fear – even better.

Tennessee Titans – Strong Arm Quarterback, Possession Wide Receiver, Run Support DB

The Titans pursued Peyton Manning more than any other team (besides the Broncos – apparently) and they are eager to find their QB of the future.  If you want to catch passes from Jake Locker you should be the compliment to Kenny Britt as a possession receiver.  If this game had off the field issues for player you might overtake Britt – unfortunately you will play second fiddle to this talented receiver.

On defense the Titans need a lot of help but the secondary needs the most.  Come in and be the run support they need at safety or cornerback and you might be the right guy for the job.

Washington Redskins – Balanced Runningback, Prototype Receiver, Prototype Safety and Cornerback

Washington gives you no chance to be a quarterback to replace RG3 – forget about it.  However, you can come in and replace Roy Helu with enough work.  Outside of runningback you can also try to come in and make an impact at receiver.  It is a tough position to crack, but really they need someone to help Santana Moss and Pierre Garcon.  Make your receiver at least 6’3″ and you will have a strong possibility to be a starter sooner rather than later.

On defense you will have a good chance at safety or cornerback.  The Skins need some help to get respect in perhaps the toughest division in the NFL.  If you can make the secondary better you can be a starter for a long long time.

Madden 13 Must Improve Draft Presentation and Franchise Mode

Ask any NFL fan about their favorite team’s draft and you will get some sort of response.

As a Browns fan I will give you all you need to hear and more. First, we needed to fix our offense with better receivers and someone to take over after Hillis’ departure.

The Trent Richardson pick was a good one at the time and still is; however, to give up the picks we did in order to get him I would have thought that we would be super smart about the ones we had left.

Then we took a 28 year old QB, Brandon Weeden at #22.  In a league where you are looked at as old when you are 30 it is strange to see that as a pick with any sort of gainful longevity.  Yet, even that pick wasn’t too terrible in the scheme of things.  It was followed up with Mitchell Schwartz from Cal, a big and mean O-Lineman.

Then we took John Hughes!  Yeah, you read right… 16 Candles, Pretty In Pink and St. Elmo’s  Fire on the Cuyahoga JOHN HUGHES!… Actually, it is some sort of D-Lineman that is going to be a back-up for our talented middle D-Lineman Rubin and Taylor.  I was confused by this pick to say the least… then my confusion turned to anger when I saw the other players taken after we traded down and move around in the draft to get a guy that wasn’t even projected to get picked in the draft on many experts’ boards.

That said…

Ever since Madden came out on the 360/PS3 generation of consoles it has had growing pains that have led many football gamers to get banned from forums for venting their anger (which will never happen on our boards, assuming you support your opinion without major profanity— which with Madden can be hard at times).  The worst part about Madden for years had been Franchise Mode and bugs in Franchise Mode.  That said, there are three major events for NFL fans:

  1. The NFL Draft
  2. Kickoff Week
  3. The Super Bowl

Improving The Draft (What’s Missing?)

There is a reason why the NFL Draft is #1 on that list.  It gives people faith that for a moment, their team is going to get better.  They might find their ‘Tom Brady’ or ‘Peyton Manning’.  There are some players that coming out of college are looked at as ‘sure things’ like Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III and then you have big risks on guys like Vontaze Burfict (went to the halfway-house, AKA the Cincinnati Bengals after going undrafted) who have major character issues.

People go nuts for the draft and it is something that is often talked about more than the Super Bowl.  Simply because it is something that every team has a chance to do and do well.

Madden has no personality or atmosphere for the Draft.  It is difficult to see what other teams are doing in your Franchise Mode.  One example is when a team trades up or down in the draft there is usually some sort of reaction by commentators (which also don’t exist in Madden’s Franchise Mode for the Draft) – in Madden you are greeted with a notice that a trade took place and which picks were involved… and then nothing… No highlight of who was so important that the team moved up to get them.  You are also not going to see which players teams select during the draft because the Drafted Player Ticker resets after every pick, rendering it impossible to see how the draft is going or who is coming off the board in any sort of fluid manner.

If the Cowboys were to take a punter with the first pick in the draft you would probably see riots and hear commentators berate the management (Jerry Jones) of the Cowboys…. Not in Madden, take whoever you want because no one cares.  Perhaps that is the real personality of Madden’s Franchise Mode – No one cares… and frankly, why should they?

Not to mention it is hard to really have any sense of immersion in a league that seems to exist without any sort of news feed that is easily accessible to let you know that certain players are under-performing.  Then again, that is the hideous beauty of Madden’s Franchise Mode.

Minus the lacking atmosphere, here is a list of just some of the things that are missing from creating a true Franchise Mode experience worth paying $60 for every. single. year…:

  1. Player Morale and Personality – Players have no personality.  Some teams are simply not desirable to play for, yet… that never comes into play with Madden, just sign the players without any real attention  to what type of coach, owner or city they want to play in.  Are they just about money are they loyal to loyal fans?… That doesn’t matter in Madden.
  2. Player Performance – This doesn’t matter from multiple levels in Franchise Mode.  As far as the much vaunted online roster updates go, apparently a player is better on a week by week basis.  However, when it comes to any sort of adjustment to a player after he throws for 500 yards and 6 TDs twice in three weeks, there is no such update to his throwing abilities or his much over-hyped OVR (Overall) Rating.
  3. Player Value – This rating doesn’t exist in Madden at all.  This means that when you have a player that runs for 2000 yards two years in a row and then wants to be traded elsewhere you might not be able to get what you should for him because his OVR is 80 due to a low AWR (Awareness) Rating, even if he has 98 SPD, 97 JKE, 95 SPN, etc.  The system of value for performance is a constant battle between gamers that state performance means little when potential is all that matters.  My response is that performance is MEASUREABLE and potential will NEVER be.

This list will be expanded over the course of the next few months and years as Madden is sure to continue to grow and regress in quality and features.  The first step for any game mode like Franchise Mode is ATMOSPHERE and IMMERSION and that should start with the most important day  (weekend) of the NFL Year – The NFL Draft.