The New Orleans Saints are 1-1 while Madden has gone 2-0 with its predictions so far. The video game predicted a close game between the Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers and, until midway through the fourth quarter, it wasn't wrong.
Three interceptions from Jameis Winston, however, paved the way for the Bucs to win the game by a score of 20-10. New Orleans' defense played well but once again, it was the offense that let the team and the fans down.
Week 3 marks the Saints' third straight game against an NFC South opponent, this time against the Panthers. Carolina is 0-2 and has not played well against the Browns or Giants through their first two games. Will the Saints be able to move to 2-1?
Week 3 Madden Sim: Saints 27, Panthers 17
The Panthers get the ball first and despite a decent drive for them, they're forced to punt. The Saints go 3-and-out on their ensuing drive but Shi Smith muffs the punt return, setting the Saints up in a goal-to-go situation. They capitalize moments later when Alvin Kamara rushes 12 yards into the end zone to give the Saints a 7-0 lead.
The defense essentially shuts down Baker Mayfield in the first half but one of the few big plays he manages to complete is a 57-yard pass to Robbie Anderson, who is just shy of the goal line. Christian McCaffrey powers his way into the end zone not long after to make this a 7-7 ball game.
When the second quarter gets underway, the Saints are driving. Winston caps off the drive with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Chris Olave to make it a 14-7 Saints lead. Carolina fails to do anything on their next drive and the Saints also end up having to punt.
On Carolina's next offensive possession, Mayfield drops back to pass and is hit by Cameron Jordan. This causes Mayfield to fumble the football where Pete Werner scoops it up and runs it back the other way. Now it's a 21-7 Saints lead with under five minutes to go in the half.
McCaffrey pops off a big run on the Panthers' next drive and the bad guys settle for a 37-yard field goal. It's 21-10 Saints at the half.
After a thrilling first half of action, not much happens in the second half. The Saints' defense clamps down on Mayfield and the Panthers' offense and they only manage to get two first downs for the rest of the game, which come in garbage time.
As for the New Orleans offense, they don't look great but they do manage to score another touchdown after Winston connects with Juwan Johnson for a 35-yard completion to put the good guys in the red zone. Taysom Hill runs it in from 19 yards out to give NOLA a 28-10 lead.
With the Saints up comfortably late in the game, the Panthers are able to start moving the football a little better as garbage time begins. Mayfield takes the ball into the end zone himself from six yards out to make it a 28-17 lead, which ends up being the final score.
Winston ends the game with 216 yards passing and a touchdown while the quarterback on the other team, Baker Mayfield, tosses for 248 yards and added a rushing touchdown to his stats.
Rushing-wise, McCaffrey is held to just 45 yards on the ground and has 18 through the air. Kamara has the one rushing touchdown but otherwise only has 52 yards rushing.
Receiving-wise, Olave is the only Saints wide receiver to find the end zone but Jarvis Landry ends up leading the team in yardage with 81 off of five catches. Michael Thomas has 2 catches for 23 yards. For the Panthers, aside from Anderson's big grab early in the game, the receivers have a quiet day. Anderson leads them in receiving yards with 63 off of three catches.
Defensively, Pete Werner puts on another impressive performance with his fumble recovery for a touchdown in the first half. Without that score, this game ends up being much closer.
Will Madden move to 3-0 this week? Let's hope so!