Toretto - REPORTING LIVE FROM MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - site of Seahawks/Vikings.
The buildup…was legendary.
A league full of men residing in different places all over the world started the Madden 16 year off with two things in common: their sights on the world Championship, as many made claims and proclamations towards obtaining it. The second? A clean canvas; no competitor began with a leg up on any other…and all had to prove their worth in order to be considered among the elite.
We started with 32…we are down to twelve. And soon…there will only be one…but who will be THAT one?
Could it be Marck’s Minnesota Vikings, winners of the NFC North? Powered by Adrian Peterson and an exceptional amount of talent on defense, Minnesota has staked their claim as one of the league’s better players. Can Marck, a member of the NY-based Wolfpack, obtain his first NT Madden League playoff win – and then some?
B is no stranger to the playoffs; he made them in each of last year’s 5 seasons (winning it all in Season 4), and the first in the ’16 year was no different. He starts off on the road…just as his world championship year did. Regarded as one of the best and most respected players in the league, can B provide even more validation for those accolades?
Speaking of accolades, Jeremy has come quite some way to gaining even more in favor of him. He has guided the Philadelphia Eagles to a very impressive 11-5 record, fueled by perhaps the premier defense in the league. Ascending from somewhat of an afterthought to a consensus top 5-10 player in the league, can Jeremy take his tough Philly brand of football and end the Eagles’ championship drought – one which has spanned their entire existence?
Droughts don’t only exist in the City of Brotherly Love, however. Ever since the days of Namath, the Jets have longed for a title to call their own. After decades of disappointment, Reggie has taken the helm of Gang Green and bulldozed his way to the final Wild Card spot in the AFC. In his inaugural season in the NT Madden League, can Reg deliver an appropriate Broadway ending to his first production in the Big Apple?
Jose is a former world Champion, and certainly won’t let anyone who asks (or who doesn’t) forget about it. With his Seattle Seahawks poised for another run, he will have the resolve and experience – not to mention the talent in bunches – to make it happen once more. However, the tallest tasks are assigned to the elite…his will be getting back to the big game...without the benefit of the 12th
Man. Can he make it two rings in two consecutive Maddens?
The beauty of this all is that, no matter the eventual champion, this will be recorded in all of our minds for the forseeable future…and even, possibly…a Mixtape. Mike has re-established the old “Commitment to Excellence” in Oakland, ending the Raiders’ playoff drought at 12. But can he atone for a horrid end to a regular season which still saw him take the AFC West at 9-7? Or will his Raiders’ last memory of a Super Bowl appearance be SB XXXVII, where they fell to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?
While some trash talkers didn’t get past Week 17 of the regular season, others did; one of which has made the Chicago Bears relevant once more. The brash JR has taken the Windy City’s own from a 0-3 start (which wasn’t of his own doing) and rebuilt them into his own incarnation of the Monsters of the Midway. Now at 10-6, the Bears will take their show on the road for as long as they remain alive in the playoffs. The first stop is Philadelphia…where a win will give them a chance to end a potentially historic season. Can JR make history of his own in his first NT playoff? If so, we all –be it, his Wolfpack brethren or otherwise – will surely hear about it for ages.
This playoff seems to be Wolfpack-laden, and indeed it is. Along with JR, Marck, and Jose, Cease will enter the fray as the calm before the pre-Super Bowl chaos slowly comes to an end. Possibly the surprise of the league, he led the Tennessee Titans to a 12-4 record, as he cruised to the AFC South crown. Also in his NT playoff debut, he will lead Marcus Mariota and the rest of his men against the aforementioned Jets in, possibly, the most intriguing Wild Card matchup this season. Does Cease have it in him to make the league Remember the Titans?
The last time we saw Tennessee in the Super Bowl, they fell a yard short to the St. Louis Rams – who took the league by surprising yet violent storm – in the ’99-2000 season. Sixteen seasons later, it is very possible we can see a repeat of that Super Bowl, as Ty has led the Rams to the NFC West title (in a division where nearly everyone pegged Seattle to win). Thanks to likely DPOY Aaron Donald and surefire ROY Todd Gurley, the Rams possess everything they need to make life miserable for any of the remaining competitors: a strong running game and a fierce defense. Will the folks in St. Louis, when the dust settles, be partying like they were shortly after the turn of the century?
Fans in Cincinnati have been waiting, mostly impatiently, for something to cheer about for what seems like eons now. Thanks to Jesus, their Bengals have made a huge leap towards accomplishing that for their fanbase, as they won an AFC-best 14 games en route to clinching home field throughout the AFC side of the playoffs. Thanks to the maturation of Andy Dalton, many in Ohio believe that the Lombardi is headed to a stadium near them in very due time. Can Jesus, also a Madden ’15 World Champion, repeat his fortunes – this time, in the great Midwest?
His biggest test, possibly, is the reason while we’re all gathered here now. “Systems” make the world work, and in this merged world of NT and Madden, the narrative remains true. This “System” has also dominated most of the regular season; Manny and his Dolphins were half of the reason why. Starting off 8-0, Miami cruised to the AFC East mountaintop after a trash-talk filled offseason with what could’ve been considered a rival, but is currently just an afterthought. It’s now on to bigger and better things for Manny, who is on a mission to right the wrongs from playoffs past (see Madden 15, Season 2 vs. Ty). Ryan Tannehill is a prime candidate for MVP…but can he and his Phins survive what will be a hard-hitting postseason this time around…and have a joint toast with the ’72 Miami incarnation?
And why are the ’72 Dolphins even mentioned here? As I lift the rock which has covered your sleep, take a second to look at his #System brother in the NFC…me. There have been sixteen weeks of mayhem, and for sixteen weeks, my Carolina Panthers and I have come out victorious…every single time and in ways you couldn’t predict nor would one have imagined. Still, what does it mean?
Not a damn thing.
Because even though the year has changed, the memories aren’t erased from seemingly everyone’s minds. Even though I win, questions and criticisms remain as to why or how such victories occur. Even though there’s still a 0 in my record…another zero still exists. For Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, and the rest of the Carolinas, a winless regular season without the fruits to show the labor of obtaining the ultimate goal in the playoffs will result in much of the same…a mountain of nothingness. We’re better than ever, and the NFC side of the playoffs runs through a stadium where no man has won in eleven months. To silence the critics, however, I must do what I have not done…ever. It’s World Championship or bust for me…as it is for all of you...
So suit up…and lace your boots up...for it’s war time!
Good luck men...and welcome to the NT Madden League Season 1 Playoffs.
Destination: Levi's Stadium. Super Bowl 50.
WILD CARD ROUND
NYJ @ TEN (-4)
CHI @ PHI (-5)
SEA @ MIN (+1.5)
PIT @ OAK (+2)Edited by Toretto - 10/25/15 at 8:41pm