The Atlanta Falcons may not be flying high at the end of Super Bowl LI. Electronic Arts' "Madden NFL 17" has made its annual prediction about the big game — and the video game forecasts the New England Patriots will come out on top by a score of 27-24.
While it might be easy to shrug off a video game simulation, it's worth noting that the long-running franchise has proven especially prescient in the 13 years it has been rolling out a prediction, correctly picking the winner nine times — and in 2015 it perfectly predicted both the final score and the final play.
Here's how this year's game will play out, per the simulation. The Falcons will draw first blood, scoring during the first quarter after running back Tevin Coleman takes a pass from the backfield 15 yards into the end zone. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will quickly respond, with a 38-yard play action pass to Chris Hogan for a touchdown.
The second quarter will see the Falcons gain another touchdown, after a deep pass to wide receiver Julio Jones puts them in position, while the Patriots will be limited to a field goal, making the score 17-10 at the half.
By the time Lady Gaga's done with her performance, though, the Patriots are going to be hungry, with the offense scoring both a touchdown and a field goal in the third quarter and the defense finally finding a way to shut down Atlanta QB Matt Ryan.
The Falcons will make a fourth quarter comeback, gaining a 24-20 lead, but with four minutes left in the game, Madden predicts, Tom Brady will begin a march down the field that will put the Patriots in a 4th and 4 situation with just 20 seconds remaining on the clock. A pass to wide receiver Julian Edelman in the end zone will seal the victory for New England.
Whew. That's a breathtaking game even if it's just played out in your head.
While Falcon fans aren't likely to put a lot of stock in the simulation, the game has done better than many Vegas oddsmakers over the years. But before you Patriots loyalists rush out to meet your bookie, it's worth noting that when it misses the mark, it does so by a pretty wide margin. It gave the edge in Super Bowl XLVIII (which saw Denver battle Seattle) to the Broncos, predicting Peyton Manning would lead his team to a 31-28 victory. In reality, it was a blowout 43-8 victory by Seattle.
And last year, it confidently said the Carolina Panthers would beat the Broncos by a score of 24-20. The Broncos ran roughshod on Cam Newton and crew with a 24-10 victory.
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: