Over the next few weeks, we'll analyze the NFL playoffs using EA Sports' powerhouse football simulation, Madden NFL 25, determining the pros and cons of each team and picking an overall winner.
After looking at the AFC Championship, it's time to head to Seattle for the NFC game, where the Seahawks, on a hot little playoff streak, face off against the visiting San Francisco 49ers.
The 49ers have a disadvantage when it comes to entering CenturyLink Field, which provides a huge benefit to the Seahawks. Still, it's a matter of what the two quarterbacks bring to the field – Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick.
San Francisco 49ers – Madden NFL 25 Team Rating: 91
The 49ers had no problem cleaning house on Cam Newton and the Panthers last week in Carolina’s home stadium. With a dynamite Kaepernick leading the charge, the 49ers put points on the board and didn't look back as quarterback Cam Newton and his team fell apart.
With Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis in tow, along with Frank Gore doing plenty of work in his own right, the 49ers should put on an impressive show, unless the Seattle defense kicks in early enough to keep them from making forward progress. That may be questionable, since neither Green Bay nor Carolina could do it in the previous weeks.
Playing as the Niners
As we've stated in our previous article, Kaepernick has the kind of passing accuracy to complete most good plays without showing weakness. The key is making sure your receivers can keep up with him as they run their routes. With Seattle's defense, there could be a good chance they try to intercept the ball, so you'll want to go fast and quick as soon as you get a man open. Kaepernick's got the speed and power; it's just a matter of getting the ball where it needs to go. Take a look at Ask Madden if you come across a play that doesn't work for you, or just need something out of the 49ers' playbook that's a guaranteed success for six.
Running is also a good idea, as it can throw Seattle's defense for a loop when they expect a pass play. Gore will be good and ready to add some yards to his postseason record, and will have no problem finding an open route for the end zone.
As far as defense is concerned, they need to be ready – so find good plays that get coverage in all zones, both forward and back. That way, you'll be prepared if Wilson goes for a throw, or if they decide to throw you off with a rush. See which ones provide the best coverage and stick with them. If they don't work, adjust a bit – but don't forget to keep your team spread out. It will make all the difference.
Seattle Seahawks – Madden NFL 25 Rating: 90
The Seahawks dominated the Saints last week, despite all that promise of Drew Brees and his team heading back to Super Bowl glory. Russell Wilson had another great showing with his powerhouse arm, and he had no problem getting support of star players, including Marshawn Lynch, who once again let his rushing do the talking.
Now it's just a matter of whether the team will have Percy Harvin in the line-up. Several preliminary reports indicate he might not be, which may cost the team in terms of overall balance.
Going up against San Francisco will be a tough challenge, especially considering that they beat both Carolina and Green Bay on their home turf. CenturyLink Field is a different place, one filled with frenzied Seattle fans, but if anyone is prone for an upset, it could be them. The defense needs to be ready.
Playing As the Seahawks
With a team rating only slightly below the 49ers (91 to Seattle's 90), you need to avoid making mistakes with Wilson and his squad. Look for plays that work for the team early, like mid-range passes and rushing plays where Lynch can easily find open gaps. Consult Ask Madden if you need to, if you can't find something that works for you within the first few minutes. Mix and match your plays, and keep the 49ers defense on its toes.
Wilson is a great go-to quarterback for completing pass plays, so along with mid-range, throw in an occasional Hail Mary style play to get the ball down the field. Your receiver just might surprise you, but don't loft the ball too much that the 49ers defense will be all over it. If you're unsure, stick to small and mid-range passes.
On defense, go for Kaepernick. Make a beeline whenever you can. He might hand off to someone, so make sure you nail them quick before they make the first down marker. If you see a sack opportunity, take it. Causing a slight delay may give Kaepernick the time he needs to get the ball moving. Keep the pressure on, because that'll work best.
So Who Wins?
In our simulation game in Madden NFL 25, the Seahawks fell to the 49ers in a stunning 41-38 contest. This should be one of those exciting, close-scoring contests where surprises can come out of nowhere, and we'll truly get to see what each quarterback can do for their team.
We wouldn't be surprised if Seattle pulled off the win, but considering the 49ers' roll as of late on the road, this could very well be the year it returns to the Super Bowl.
Madden NFL 25 is available now for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and PC.