AFC North: Madden 10

Man of Steel

October, 26, 2009
10/26/09
6:00
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com’s James Walker
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar
Adrian Peterson’s hit on the Steelers’ William Gay was a memorable moment of the 2009 season.

This picture captures a play that you’re probably going to see a lot of for the remainder of the 2009 season.

Minnesota Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson bowls over Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback William Gay during a 29-yard reception in the fourth quarter. If you’re a Madden 10 gamer, Peterson hit the "truck stick."

When asked about Peterson after the game, Gay told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “He can’t be human. Dude’s made of steel.”

Peterson is the best tailback in the NFL, but Pittsburgh’s defense did a good job of corralling him Sunday. Peterson was held to 69 yards rushing and 3.8 yards per carry in a 27-17 win for the Steelers (5-2).

Gay lost this individual matchup, but at least he got the victory.
Posted by ESPN.com’s James Walker

Here are the most interesting stories Saturday in the AFC North:
  • Cincinnati Bengals rookie third-round pick Michael Johnson will try to fill some big shoes by replacing injured defensive end Antwan Odom.
Morning take: Cincinnati has depth this year, but Odom might be the hardest player on the defense to replace. If Johnson lives up to his potential, that would go a long way for the Bengals.
  • We all know about the Madden simulations. But here is an old-school Tecmo Bowl simulation of Sunday’s big game between the Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Morning take: Hey, it’s the weekend. I thought I’d try something different.
  • Back to serious news. The Cleveland Browns were cleared of any wrongdoing with the shoulder injury to rookie tailback James Davis.
Morning take: The NFL reviewed the practice video and considered it a controlled environment. This should bring closure to the situation.
Morning take: Those in the know say Edwards, despite his size, is one of the best athletes on the team. He’s showing it with his recent play.

More AFC North hybrids

July, 27, 2009
7/27/09
4:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

After inventing our new AFC North catchphrase "Troy Reed" last week to end the longstanding Troy Polamalu-Ed Reed debate, it has me thinking of other players I would like to combine talents within the division.

With that said, here are several other "Madden NFL 10" fantasy hybrids I will have fun creating this year:

  James
 Suggs

Player: James Suggs

  • Position: Linebacker/defensive end
  • Why: The sack record is in serious jeopardy when you combine the talents of James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Terrell Suggs of the Baltimore Ravens. Both players just got huge new contracts, so "James Suggs" is a very happy (and rich) man. But that's awful news for opposing offense as this player is virtually unblockable against the run and pass. Along with "Troy Reed," you can book "James Suggs" as perennial contenders for Most Valuable Player.
  • Overall rating: 110 (if possible, since "Troy Reed" is 120)
  Carson
  Roethlisberger

Player: Carson Roethlisberger

  • Position: Quarterback
  • Why: Pitting Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer of the Cincinnati Bengals into one player would give you the ideal quarterback. "Carson Roethlisberger" would be a two-time Super Bowl winner with all the natural ability you want at the position. Both players have arm strength, but Palmer's quick release is much needed to avoid sacks. Roethlisberger will bring his size, improvisation and winner's mentality to make sure his team stays in contention every year. You also don't have to worry about Palmer's age or severe elbow and knee injuries thanks to Roethlisberger.
  • Overall rating: 110
  Haloti
  Hampton

Player: Haloti Hampton

  • Position: Defensive lineman
  • Why: Want to stop the run? "Haloti Hampton" is the answer. Nicknamed the "Gigantic Buffett," this defensive lineman cannot be moved off the line of scrimmage. With Pittsburgh's Casey Hampton, you have size and veteran experience of playing years in a 3-4 defense. Thanks to Baltimore's Haloti Ngata, you also have youth, nimble feet, surprisingly good hands and no weight issues. "Haloti Hampton" is the perfect big man to protect your linebackers.
  • Overall rating: 99
  Hines
  Ochocinco

Player: Hines Ochocinco

  • Position: Wide receiver
  • Why: Mixing Hines Ward and Chad Ochocinco can be a dangerous experiment. I'm not sure which strong personality will prevail, whether it's Ward's professional approach or Ochocinco's brash antics. (We're hoping for Ward's character traits, obviously.) But on the field, you're going to get a smart, hard-nosed receiver with a ton of natural game-breaking ability. There is nothing "Hines Ochocinco" can't do on the football field. He will be the best blocking receiver in the NFL who runs great routes, has dependable hands and can easily get behind the secondary. The only issue is age, as both players are over 30.
  • Overall rating: 97
  Willie
  McClain

Player: Willie McClain

  • Position: Running back
  • Why: Using the speed of Pittsburgh's Willie Parker and the rugged strength of Baltimore's Le'Ron McClain would make an ideal AFC North tailback. "Willie McClain" would be equally adept to hitting a crease and taking it 70 yards or get those tough, goal-line touchdowns with ease. This tailback may struggle to catch out of the backfield, however.
  • Overall rating: 93
  Keith
  Timmons

Player: Keith Timmons

  • Position: Linebacker
  • Why: The Bengals' Keith Rivers and Lawrence Timmons of the Steelers are two of the top, young linebackers in the NFL, and both reside in the AFC North. Put the two together and you have a force to be reckoned with in "Keith Timmons." Timmons provides the explosiveness and pure athleticism while Rivers is more polished against the run in taking on fullbacks and shedding offensive linemen. Both players have the ability to play inside or outside linebacker, providing for tremendous versatility. And the fact that Timmons plays in a 3-4 and Rivers plays in a 4-3 makes "Keith Timmons" perfect for any system.
  • Overall rating: 93
  Brady
  Anderson

Player: Brady Anderson

  • Position: Quarterback
  • Why: If you put together the strengths of Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson, the Cleveland Browns would have no problems choosing their quarterback this summer. "Brady Anderson" would be their guy. Anderson brings the rocket arm and the ability to stretch NFL defenses, while Quinn has all the intangibles such as leadership, decision making and pocket presence. With "Brady Anderson," the Browns could be a threat in the AFC North this year and perhaps rekindle their rivalry against the Steelers.
  • Overall rating: 88

'Madden 10' analysis

July, 10, 2009
7/10/09
5:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

ESPN.com released all of the 'Madden 10' ratings for the AFC North this week, and they are noticeably harsh this year, most likely in an effort to make the game more challenging.

Here is a recap:

Baltimore Ravens

The good news: With five players with 90-plus speed, the Ravens finally have speed in their secondary. In prior years, trying to use Chris McAlister and Dawan Landry together was difficult against teams which liked to throw deep. Landry (78 speed) is still at safety and Ravens users may want to insert a faster replacement.

The bad news: After completing 60 percent of his passes last season, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco got a raw deal with a 75 accuracy rating. That is almost unusable in "Madden." In fact the entire offense seems a bit off. The offensive line, in particular, looks significantly worse than real life.

Overall: If you're really good at winning games 10-7, the Ravens are the team for you. Otherwise, the offense might make the Ravens a team to avoid this year. It seems "Madden 10" shorted a team that's coming off an AFC title game. Baltimore's poorly-rated offensive line is particularly worrisome, because running the football with the three-headed monster is a major part of what the Ravens do well.

Cincinnati Bengals

The good news: The rookie class is pretty strong. Rey Maualuga (79 overall) is the top-rated linebacker on the team. He's ahead of Keith Rivers (78 overall), which is baffling, but both players lead a young defense. Andre Smith (81 overall) came out pretty well, and defensive end Michael Johnson (86 speed, 92 acceleration) and tight end Chase Coffman (85 catch) both have skills that you can use.

The bad news: The offensive line is horrible and in total flux. Smith has the highest overall rating and he's playing the wrong position at left tackle. No one else is rated above 78, they're all slow and have limited run-blocking ability. Add in the fact that Cedric Benson and the running backs have no skill in the video game, and the Bengals look very one-dimensional.

Overall: The Bengals used to be an effective Madden team several years ago when their offensive line was solid. But with no o-line and no running game, Cincinnati is a shell of its former "Madden" self. If you enjoy using rookies for kicks, though, the Bengals could be a lot of fun.

Cleveland Browns

The good news: I was surprised with the amount of highly-rated players on Cleveland's roster. Players like receiver Braylon Edwards (86 overall), tailback Jamal Lewis (85 overall), guard Eric Steinbach (91 overall) and Corey Williams (81 overall) all struggled last season but hold solid ratings. Plus defensive tackle Shaun Rogers (92 overall) and linebackers D'Qwell Jackson (86 overall) look like absolute studs in this year's game. Add in rookies such as center Alex Mack (79 overall) and receiver Brian Robiskie (73 overall), and the Browns are deeper than you think.

The bad news: The Browns have some major deficiencies in key areas, such as quarterback and in the secondary. Brady Quinn (71 overall) and Derek Anderson (70 overall) will both be extremely difficult to use in this game. How a rookie like Robiskie is rated higher than both quarterbacks is beyond me. But similar to real life, it will up to the player to determine if Quinn's accuracy or Anderson's arm strength is more important, because you're not going to have both. The secondary group is very slow, as well, and with the amount of people who like to air it out in Madden that could be problematic.

Overall: "Madden" was generous to the Browns coming off a 4-12 season. The rookies received good ratings and the star players were rated highly, despite playing on a bad team. Cleveland certainly looks usable, especially if you can solve the quarterback dilemma.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The good news: The defense looks unstoppable. An amazing five players have overall ratings of 91 or higher. Good luck driving down the field against this group.

The bad news: Not much bad here. Even tailback Willie Parker has (95 speed, 95 acceleration) great ratings despite coming off a down year. William Gay (63 overall) could have been rated higher, but he's unproven so that might be nitpicking.

Overall: Where I'm from, a team like Pittsburgh is off limits. The defending Super Bowl champions usually own extremely high ratings to where it's not even fun playing with or against them. You won't find the Steelers getting much run in the Walker household this year.

By the way, I'm thinking of opening an AFC North blog "Madden" challenge this summer. But I'm on the road a lot in August during training camps, so it could be tough.

Stay tuned.

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Here are the most interesting stories in the AFC North:

  • According to ESPN.com AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky, Houston Texans tailback Steve Slaton says the Pittsburgh Steelers have the toughest defense in the NFL.

Morning take: No surprise here. Pittsburgh was one of the few teams that bottled up Slaton (13 carries, 43 yards) in Week 1 of his rookie season.

  • Baltimore Ravens receiver Derrick Mason spoke at Thursday's memorial service for former NFL quarterback Steve McNair and general manager Ozzie Newsome will attend funeral services for the former Raven on Saturday, Jamison Hensley of the Baltimore Sun writes.

Morning take: Mason in particular spent a majority of his career catching passes from McNair in Baltimore and with the Tennessee Titans, and their bond goes far beyond the gridiron.

Morning take: We will have more on "Madden" this afternoon, once I finish taking NFC East blogger Matt Mosley to task in the upcoming Eli Manning vs. Ben Roethlisberger debate.

  • Carlos Holmes of the Dayton Daily News writes third-round tight end Chase Coffman is close to reaching a deal with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Morning take: Coffman could help the Bengals if he recovers from his foot injury this summer. Getting to training camp on time would be a good first step.

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Here are the most interesting stories Wednesday in the AFC North:

Morning take: Frankly, the top of this draft class was probably the worst of this decade. The best players turned out to be linebackers DeMarcus Ware and Shawne Merriman and neither went in the top 10.

  • Is disgruntled Denver Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall the answer for the Baltimore Ravens?

Morning take: The Broncos don't want to trade Marshall, and he comes with a lot of baggage and the desire for a huge contract. The trio of issues makes it unlikely that he lands in Baltimore.

Morning take: If Ochocinco is serious -- and with him you never know -- I'd really question if his primary focus is winning or entertainment and self-promotion.

Morning take: Where I'm from, we have a rule that you cannot use the defending Super Bowl champions in "Madden" because the ratings are always so high. Sure enough, I will be invoking this rule again this season.

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Here are the most interesting stories in the AFC North:

  • Cleveland Browns defensive end Kenyon Coleman is looking to make an impact in his first year with the team.

Morning take: Two years ago, the former New York Jet led NFL defensive linemen in tackles, which is very impressive in a 3-4 scheme. Cleveland hopes to get similar production from Coleman.

Morning take: Poor Steve Hauschka (59 rating). If the Ravens are your team, you may want to pick up veteran free-agent kicker Matt Stover instead.

Morning take: The sooner the better, because this one is probably going down to the wire.

Morning take: Check out Eason's explanation of his time with the Cleveland Browns. It's pretty telling the difference between the two organizations.

'Madden 10' rankings

May, 29, 2009
5/29/09
5:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

 
   
  Player ratings are a hot topic every summer.

For all of my gamers out there, ESPN.com has an early preview of the Madden 10 player rankings.

If you're like me, you are already thinking about the new rosters in May and trying to figure out which team will fit your playing style this year. Check out this link to get a head start on finding a team.

Not to brag, but I was pretty good in last year's edition of the game. So, if you want some, come get some!

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