It's not uncommon for video game companies to run simulations of big games in their products to whip up a little consumer interest before the events. But when Electronic Arts' "Madden NFL" puts on its prognostication helmet, it's worth listening to what it has to say.
The long-running franchise, coming off last year's perfect prediction of the game, has projected the winner for Super Bowl 50: the Carolina Panthers.
The video game predicts the Panthers will keep pounding to beat the Denver Broncos on Sunday by a score of 24-20, with a dramatic finish led by Panther quarterback Cam Newton.
Here's how it will play out, per the simulation. The first half will belong to the Panthers, starting with a big kick return by Ted Ginn Jr. By halftime, they'll have 17 unanswered points. But after Coldplay's halftime show, Peyton Manning and the Broncos will come roaring back, scoring 20.
With under a minute left, though, "Madden" predicts Newton will dive into the end zone for a game-winning touchdown. It also predicts Newton will get MVP honors.
Thrilling stuff, but there's no real reason to pay attention to a video game simulation of the biggest game of the year, is there? Before you answer, consider last year.
Prior to Super Bowl XLIX, "Madden" not only perfectly nailed the final 28-24 score, it also foresaw Tom Brady's fourth-quarter game-winning pass to Julian Edelman. It knew the Patriots would score first and what the score would be at the end of the third quarter.
While last year was the game's best prediction, it was hardly a fluke. In the 12 years that EA has rolled out a prediction, the game has accurately forecast the winner nine times. Six years ago it came within a point of the final score — and nailed precisely how many yards Steelers wideout Santonio Holmes would run.
Before you rush out to meet your favorite bookie, though, it's worth noting that the game is hardly infallible. And when it misses the mark, it does so by a pretty wide margin. It gave the edge in Super Bowl XLVIII between Denver and the Seattle Seahawks to the Broncos, predicting Manning would lead his team to a 31-28 victory. In reality, it was a blowout 43-8 victory by Seattle.
Want a little more historical knowledge before deciding how much faith to put into "Madden's" prediction? Here's a look at the game's full track record to date: