Shhh!! Sneaky Sleeper Team for Madden 2013: Kansas City Chiefs
With the Aug. 28 release of Madden 13 bearing down on us, it’s time for the hardcore online players such as myself to start thinking about which team/teams to hitch our wagons to on the way to virtual victory. And yes, there are the obvious teams (Packers, Eagles and Saints, to name a few) that you can win most of your games with, but over the years, I’ve found that playing a team used less often can be more satisfying and — if mastered — more effective than the top-tier squads in the game.
To help you along in this endeavor, I’ve tabbed a few teams as possible Sneaky Sleepers for Madden 13. I’ve picked these teams based on their lack of notoriety on Madden online, the amount of quality, underrated players at key positions, and the teams’ lack of success in real life, which will affect other players’ perceptions of those squads. It’s all very scientific, as you’ll see in the weeks leading up to Aug. 28, starting off with today’s Sneaky Sleeper: the Kansas City Chiefs.
Why won’t online players use them:
Well, for one, the Chiefs in real life were terrible last year. True, it was mostly because of a stupid amount of injuries to very key players (S Eric Berry, RB Jamaal Charles, QB Matt Cassel and TE Tony Moeaki, to name a few), but it’s hard to get excited about a 7-9 record. The Chiefs were known for two things last year — being the first team to beat the Green Bay Packers and Todd Haley being a nutcase. Having a team rating of 84 overall last year to start the season means they’ll probably be rated even lower in Madden 13.
Why they’re a sneaky sleeper:
The Chiefs’ stock couldn’t sink much lower with the average Madden player, mostly because they stumbled down from winning the AFC West in 2010 and were buried under the celestial mass that was Tebowmania in division rival Denver. But as I mentioned earlier, they were essentially putting out a B squad by the middle of the season because of a catastrophic plague of injuries, which should tell you that 7-9 record probably wasn’t that much different than that 2010 squad. The injured players won’t be punished too severely through their ratings, meaning those key positions the Chiefs struggled at last year should be at full strength from their division-winning season.
Players to abuse
1. One man, two first names: Jamaal Charles. The all-galaxy RB missed most of last year in real life because of an ACL injury, which should mean his initial rating in Madden 12 of 95 overall (with an emphasis on speed and agility) should stay put. If there was one criticism I could lob against Madden 12, it was that screen passes were crazy easy to pull off, and if that stays the same in this year’s game, Charles should be gobbling up yards through the ground and air faster than Pacman eats dots. And don’t forget the very capable Peyton Hillis the Chiefs signed in the offseason to take some of the short yardage punishment Charles isn’t exactly suited for.
2. This is a bit of a double dip, but if I have one thing in common with Tom Brady — besides being irresistible to supermodels — it’s a love for receiving tight ends (which might go back to the supermodel thing, if you think about it). The Chiefs will have two such options next year with Tony Moeaki and newly acquired Kevin Boss, a pair of very tall, very capable pass catchers. I’ve abused both of these guys online in the past (Boss when he was with the Giants), using their natural matchup against a linebacker on the defense to pick up easy first downs on third-and-medium.
3. A good defense is key in Madden online, since unlike the offense, you can’t make it all flow directly through you. The Chiefs, as luck would have it, are strong where they need to be on the defensive side of the ball — pass rushers like Tamba Hali and Glenn Dorsey will put consistent pressure on the QB (nothing gets an online opponent more off his or her game than a few sacks), MLB Derrick Johnson will help guard the middle of the field, and stellar S Eric Berry (back from a season-ending injury in 2011) is a beast in the secondary, a player you can move all over the field to confuse your opponent. No matter which player you choose to control on defense (I prefer the MLB spot so I can play the pass and the run), there’s enough quality-to-Pro Bowl players on this squad that you won’t have to fret too much about baby-sitting some dirge defender.
It remains to be seen whether the fine folks at EA Sports avoid the urge to go overboard and downgrade this team too much after last season’s real-life struggles, but there are enough pieces on offense and defense that should remain strong to make the Chiefs a very usable and dangerous team in online play. Plus, there will be the added bonus of using a playbook unfamiliar to most players, so you’ll have that element of surprise against most of your opponents. Give them a shot, why don’t ya?!
Share your thoughts on my pick below, and feel free to share which team you’re going to dominate with come Aug. 28!
Tim is a copy editor for the Wausau Daily Herald. His Playstation Online handle is eye_dubya_pwn, if you want to inflate your friends total. Contact him at email@example.com.