Madden 21: Best (and Worst) Teams to Play with on Franchise Mode, Online, and to Rebuild

Madden 21 is here, and we’ve run the numbers on the game’s best and worst outfits this year!

While the best real-world team in football is debatable in the lead up to the 2020 season, Madden’s ratings adjudicators have made their judgments for Madden 21. 

Among the high-profile personnel changes, from Cam Newton’s move to New England and Tom Brady’s sensational switch to Tampa Bay, there has been an enormous shift in team ratings, with last year’s Super Bowl winners, the Kansas City Chiefs, somehow not even in the top five teams by overall rating.

Here are some teams that may fit your eye in exhibition play, or perhaps in a deep Franchise Mode dive.

Best Team and Best Offensive Team in Madden 21: New Orleans Saints

Overall: 85
Defense: 83
Offense: 88
Best players: Michael Thomas (OVR 99), Cameron Jordan (OVR 96), Terron Armstead (95)
Cap space: -$82.8m

Madden’s ratings adjudicators have nailed their colors onto the mast by declaring the Saints as the highest-rated team this year, with wide receiver Michael Thomas one of only five players given a 99 rating at launch this year. 

The Saints are laced with attacking threat, with Drew Brees (93) and running back Alvin Kamara (88) taking up key positions.

Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk (91) provide a safeguard of protection at the offensive line, with Emmanuel Sanders and tight end Jared Cook (both 87 overall) exceptional receivers to look for if Thomas is in double coverage.

New Orleans has a collective quality on defense that sets them apart. Defensive end Cameron Jordan (96), after a 15.5-sack 2019 season, will be an unstoppable force at the line, with Demario Davis, Marshon Lattimore, Malcolm Jenkins, and Marcus Williams all rated 85 or above.

Lattimore, Jenkins, and Williams are all defensive backs, so good luck to your opponents if they want to throw the ball deep.

Best Defensive Team in Madden 21: LA Chargers and Chicago Bears

The Chargers and Bears share identical ratings, with both leaning towards their defensive strength to set them apart from the rest of the field. 

Overall: 81/81
Defense: 85/85
Offense: 79/79
Best Chargers players: Joey Bosa (OVR 91), Keenan Allen (OVR 91), Casey Hayward Jr (OVR 89)
Cap space (Chargers): $48.6m

For the Chargers, defensive end Joey Bosa leads things with a 91 rating on launch day this year, propped up by his 96 finesse move rating and 93 pursuit rating.

As he pressures the quarterback, defensive backs Casey Hayward Jr. and Derwin James (both 89 overall) lurk in wait to pick off anything loose, alongside Chris Harris Jr. and Desmond King (both 87) who won’t letup.

Overall: 81/81
Defense: 85/85
Offense: 79/79
Best Bears players: Khalil Mack (OVR 91), Allen Robinson (OVR 89), Eddie Jackson (OVR 89)
Cap space (Bears): -$11.6m

In Chicago, seven of their eight highest-rated players are on the defensive side of the ball, with linebacker Khalil Mack (97 overall) the pick of the bunch.

Roquan Smith (83) and Robert Quinn (82) join Mack in the middle of the field, though the Bears pack a punch on all three levels of the defense, with defensive end Akiem Hicks (88) and safety Eddie Jackson (89) being menacing too.

It’s certainly a case of picking your poison when trying to beat the Bears defense, so a meticulous approach to offensive play is the order of the day.

Best Passing Team in Madden 21: New Orleans Saints

Overall: 85
Defense: 83
Offense: 88
Best players: Michael Thomas (OVR 99), Cameron Jordan (OVR 96), Terron Armstead (95)
Cap space: -$82.8m

Calling the Saints the best passing team in the NFL is contentious with Drew Brees being fourth on the list of highest-rated quarterbacks in Madden 21, though Jameis Winston at a 76 rating makes him easily the best backup across the league.

Not only does the ex-Buccaneer give you an insurance policy should Brees go down, but he also rates higher than a dozen of the starters across the league.

If that doesn’t whet your appetite to air it out, you have the only 99-rated receiver in Thomas as your primary target, with Alvin Kamara out of the backfield, plus the havoc of Sanders and Cook running routes and forcing your opponents to cover all bases.

Best Rushing Team in Madden 21: Cleveland Browns

Overall: 81
Defense: 79
Offense: 84
Best players: Myles Garrett (OVR 93), Nick Chubb (OVR 92), Odell Beckham Jr. (91)
Cap space: $1.5m

Few running backs can boast the early career success of Nick Chubb, who exploded in the 2019 season, his second in the league, with 1494 rushing yards at an average of five yards per carry.

Only Derrick Henry of the Titans eclipsed Chubb last season, and the Browns ball carrier has been rewarded with a massive spike in his overall rating, up to a 92 from last year’s 85. He overtakes teammate Kareem Hunt, who backs up Chubb, with an 87 rating of his own.

Hunt missed half of the 2019 season through suspension, while also nursing a hernia injury, and has therefore regressed from last year’s 90 rating. This aside, the Browns still pack the best punch through the carry split.

For best results, Chubb will make hay on first and second downs, with Hunt, a superior receiver, more likely to be deployed in third-down situations. Either way, you have dependable backfield options.

Worst Team in Madden 21: Miami Dolphins

Overall: 76
Defense: 80
Offense: 73
Best players: Byron Jones (OVR 88), Kyle Van Noy (OVR 86), Devante Parker (84)
Cap space: $3.8m

Fancy the challenge of taking a cellar-dweller to the Super Bowl? Well, here’s your team.

The Miami Dolphins didn’t have the worst record in football last season, going 5-11, though the team at EA certainly doesn’t rate the notorious AFC East cellar-dwellers.

Stuck in the same division with the New England Patriots and the rising Buffalo Bills, the Dolphins haven’t tasted playoff football since 2016.

Things have been understandably bleak, even in the warmth of Florida, though the 2020 season brings positivity.

Fifth overall draft pick Tua Tagovailoa begins his career under center with the help of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s tutelage, and versatile linebacker Kyle Van Noy has made the sensational switch from the Patriots.

Being frugal will be a necessity at the Dolphins, who have little wriggle room with the salary cap, but the satisfaction of bringing the glory days back to a pocket of the Sunshine State will be all the sweeter knowing the odds have been against you.

Most Overrated Team in Madden 21: Dallas Cowboys

Overall: 84
Defense: 84
Offense: 85
Best players: Zack Martin (OVR 98), Amari Cooper (OVR 93), Ezekiel Elliott (OVR 92)
Cap space: -$7.8m

Considering the Dallas Cowboys failed to win their division or finish with a winning record last season, it is rather surprising “America’s Team” starts as the fifth-best team by overall rating as of Madden 21’s launch.

Offensive lineman Zack Martin is by far and away the Cowboys’ highest-rated player at 98, with wide receiver Amari Cooper profiting from the biggest season of his career last year, starting with a 93 rating.

Key positions pump the Cowboys’ numbers, with Ezekiel Elliott’s 92 rating at running back and Dak Prescott (quarterback, 84) providing the boost.

Keep an eye on roster and ratings updates throughout the season to ensure that you don’t fall into the trap of picking the Cowboys on the pretense that they are automatically a good team to use. Things may go south if this season reflects anything close to last year.

Most Underrated Team in Madden 21: Kansas City Chiefs

Overall: 82
Defense: 77
Offense: 87
Best players: Patrick Mahomes II (OVR 99), Travis Kelce (OVR 97), Tyreek Hill (OVR 96)
Cap space: -$32.1m

Incredibly, six teams across the league start Madden 21 with a higher team rating than last season’s Super Bowl winners, with EA’s ratings team justifying it by highlighting a couple of frailties on defense. 

Pat Mahomes’ golden arm is the envy of every other team, with his Super Bowl MVP performance earning him a 99 overall rating.

Two of Mahomes’ favorite assets – tight end Travis Kelce and lightning-fast wide receiver Tyreek Hill – also enjoyed big years, and their ratings reflect as much. For all of Kansas City’s attacking firepower, though, there comes a downside.

Outside of safety Tyrann Mathieu (93) and defensive tackle Chris Jones (92), there is a lack of star quality on defense. Right defensive end Frank Clark (83) is the only other defensive player with a rating of higher than 80.

Best Team to Rebuild in Madden 21: Indianapolis Colts

Overall: 82
Defense: 84
Offense: 80
Best players: Quenton Nelson (OVR 94), DeForest Buckner (OVR 87), T.Y. Hilton (OVR 87)
Cap space: $78m

How is the team with the eighth-best rating in Madden this year also the best rebuild option? Two words: cap space. 

With $78 million in the bank and several high-quality players already in the organization, the Indianapolis Colts have huge upside.

A chunk of your money will be spent on a quarterback after Philip Rivers retires, but there will still be an embarrassing amount of wealth to go on a spree in the free agency.

Your attention to positional needs will depend on who you manage to re-sign for future seasons in Franchise Mode, but it must be noted that there isn’t a weak link across the roster.

Left guard Quenton Nelson (94) will protect whoever you have throwing the ball, while 87-rated DeForest Buckner and T.Y. Hilton stand as the Colts’ best players on either side of the ball.

If there is one weakness in the Colts’ set-up, it’s at cornerback. Kenny Moore (80) and Rock Ya-Sin (75) are the current starters. So, this may be an area to address if you are to truly beef-up the defense.

In Madden 21, if you’re a win-now sort of player, it’d be best to go with the Saints. If you want to build up your team, however, the Dolphins and Colts present prime opportunities for you to do so.

Madden 21 Team Ratings

Here’s the Madden 21 team ratings for all 32 NFL teams sorted by Overall Rating (OVR).

Team Overall Rating Offense Rating Defense Rating
New Orleans Saints 85 88 83
Baltimore Ravens 84 85 84
San Francisco 49ers 84 85 83
Philadelphia Eagles 83 87 80
Dallas Cowboys 83 85 81
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 83 84 83
Kansas City Chiefs 82 88 77
Indianapolis Colts 82 84 80
Pittsburgh Steelers 82 83 81
Las Vegas Raiders 81 85 77
Cleveland Browns 81 84 79
Green Bay Packers 81 84 79
New England Patriots 81 81 83
Buffalo Bills 81 81 83
Los Angeles Chargers 81 79 85
Seattle Seahawks 81 80 83
Chicago Bears 80 79 83
Tennessee Titans 80 81 80
Minnesota Vikings 80 80 81
Houston Texans 80 80 80
Los Angeles Rams 79 80 79
Atlanta Falcons 79 80 79
Arizona Cardinals 79 79 80
Carolina Panthers 78 80 76
New York Giants 78 80 76
Jacksonville Jaguars 78 79 77
New York Jets 78 75 80
Denver Broncos 78 76 81
Cincinnati Bengals 78 76 81
Detroit Lion 77 77 79
Washington Redskins 77 75 80
Miami Dolphins 75 73 79

Looking for Madden 21 guides?

Madden 21: Complete Controls Guide (Pass Rush, Offense, Defense, Running, Catching, and Intercept) for PS4 & Xbox One

Madden 21 Defense: Tips to Crush Opposing Offenses

Madden 21: Best Playbooks (Offensive & Defensive) to Win Games on Franchise Mode, MUT, and Online

Madden 21 Money Plays: Best Offensive & Defensive Plays to use in MUT, Online and Franchise Mode

Madden 21 Relocation Guide: All Uniforms, Teams, Logos, Cities and Stadiums

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