This year is already setting up to be a great Madden season. With the lockout still in effect it’s hard to get a true picture of what every team is going to look like in the NFL. We can start putting some pieces together starting with each teams draft picks. Many teams left New York feeling good with the draft picks that they were able to acquire, and Madden fans couldn’t wait to see who would be added to our favorite team’s roster. When all of the dust settled on the draft there were two teams that I thought took a big jump in playability in Madden…the Detroit Lion and the Baltimore Ravens.
Now I know that hardly anyone would ever want to play with the Lions online, but I think that after the draft they are just one or two players away from being a good team to play with in Madden.
Let’s start on the defensive side of the ball. Ndamukong Suh will no doubt be one of the best DEs in this years came. The man is going to demand a lot of double teams to slow him down. Now add to this already strong defensive line the Lion’s first round draft pick Nick Fairley from Auburn. Fairley’s ability to clog up the hole in the middle with his 300-pound body is going to make it hard to have any type of run game against the Lions this year. Fairley is not only a great run stopper, he also has the speed to get in the backfield and create major problems. The Lions still have the ageless Kyle Vanden Bosch as their anchor at the linebacker position. Now the Lions are still in need of a great player in the secondary, but they could be considered a decent Madden team this year.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Lions have the weapons to put up big numbers. Matthew Stafford continued to improve every game this year, and if he can stay healthy could be a really good QB. He has the arm strength to get the ball down the field every time. Stafford has help in the backfield with Kevin Smith behind him to hand the ball off to. On the outside the Lions have a top five WR in Calvin Johnson. The man has the size and the speed to control any cornerback in the NFL. Johnson is a guy that can do it all in Madden 12: catch balls over the middle of the field or streak past single coverage for an easy six points. Adding to the WR core is what the Lions did with their second round draft pick Titus Young from Boise State. Young has the speed and the athleticism to blow past most coverages and give the Lions another homerun threat.
Now I’m not saying that the Lions are going to be used by every player online, but it’s great to see a team that has been terrible for a while start to turn things around. The Lions are a team that cannot be taken lightly in Franchise mode either.
Now my second team that I can’t wait to take onto the practice field is the Baltimore Ravens. This was a good team to use last year in Madden 11 and I think they are going to be even better this year. Last year the Raven’s offseason focus was on the offensive side of the ball, mostly with the acquisition on Anquan Boldin. Coming off a 12-4 record, the Ravens look to improve even more this season.
With two future Hall of Fame defensive players (Ray Lewis and Ed Reed) it’s hard to say that that Ravens defense is anything but good. As anther season is about to begin both men at some point will start to show signs of their age, so with their first pick the Ravens selected Jimmy Smith (CB) from Colorado. Many people considered Smith to be the best corner in this year’s draft. Adding Smith’s size and speed to the always-powerful Ravens defense makes them scary in this year’s game. Players will be able to blitz from every position on the field with this team, and that make them a team that you will have to look at.
Now I’m not saying that these are the two best teams in Madden NFL 12 going into this year, I’m just trying to show how one or two players can change the way we look at team in Madden. Once the lockout is lifted and teams are able to trade players and sign free agents, the powers will once again shift in Madden. It’s going to exciting to see the flood of trades all happening at once this year.