The Thinkery: Madden on the Bills

by Ryan

Sometimes I think I have too much time on my hands. That’s when I remember how far behind I am in other things and realize I just have really, really screwed up priorities. The following is an example of that.

We’ve talked breifly about what effect video games have on a sports fan, and even shown in some ways the results have been mixed.

At some point along the way I thought it would be interesting to see how Madden player rankings stack up with actual player performance. I didn’t have an exact hypothesis to prove, I was actually just curious to see how good they are at making player models.

Well, on Saturday I had some free time and started to tinker. Below are the charts I made, along with where I found them and what insight (if any) I gained. I hope you don’t think I’m crazy.

The regular season stats were all found on Football-Reference, Madden rankings were found at IGN, and you can find both charts full size here and here.



– Most of the overall ratings seem to be reactionary to what happened the previous year. That may seem obvious, but when Holcomb was the starter his rating next year jumped two points, when J.P. was the starter his rating jumped five points.

– J.P. Losman had the best year over the length of the sample size, yet he had one of the lowest ratings on the chart. His awareness is woefully low, too. Wait, that does seem to make sense.

– Madden doesn’t think much of Trent Edwards. Even though he is the annointed savior and starter, they set Trent and J.P. dead even in most attributes, even having J.P. with a much better throwpower. This does make sense, though, and shows that even though a quarterback is starting he doesn’t necessarily see a bump in numbers. The Madden rankings seem to be based purely on prior numbers and not who is in the best position to succeed.

Running Back


– Madden was very concerned with Willis’ knee injury. Once it was shown he could run he saw a huge bump in ratings that has stayed with him throughout his career.

– I didn’t include recieving yards or touchdowns because I’m saving them for a post on recievers. That one will take the longest, so I’m waiting on it.

– Who was worse? Shaud Williams or Dwayne Wright? I say Wright.

– I’m surprised Marshawn’s awareness has remained so low, but in a way Madden is right about this. He still doesn’t hit holes the way he should, but sometimes reversing his field proves to be brilliant. It should be higher, but it is interesting to see that as his biggest weakness.

– I didn’t include some stats because they weren’t consistent throughout the years. Also, I was afriad to look at the “Injury” stat.

– Lots of faith shown in Fred Jackson considering they completely missed the boat on him last year.

So there you have it. I’d say this probably falls into the “Unjust Speech” category of the Thinkery, but I had fun doing it. Any questions about my method or what drugs I’m taking to battle the crazy, leave them below.


  1. firsttimelongtime

    Now that is some excellent work.

  2. thelcave

    you need a girlfriend.

  3. Jon

    You can never have enough.