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

Which team has the formula for offensive and defensive dominance in Madden 21?


We might be in Madden 21’s infancy, but several playbooks across offense and defense already stand apart as the game’s best to unravel teams across the range of game modes. 

Whether it be through a well-set formation, or the exotic and elaborate routes and assignments run, there is something for the regimented player and the trickster alike.


Having reviewed all 32 teams, we’ve pinpointed the franchises that have quality schemes in abundance at launch.

Best Offensive Playbooks in Madden 21

Need to stamp your authority by picking apart intense defensive schemes or by scoring an ungodly number of touchdowns? These are the best Madden 21 offensive playbooks for you to use.

Best Passing Playbook: New England Patriots

Best plays:

  • PA Counter Go (Gun Trips TE)
  • Pats Y Out (Gun Y Off Trips Pats)
  • Posts (Gun Ace Slot Offset)

Traditionally one of the strongest playbooks year after year thanks to some genius coach and system play, the Patriots have unlocked defenses for years: in Madden, things aren’t any different. 

This playbook has a myriad of plays run out of the Shotgun, which is great for a quarterback like Cam Newton to use, with receiving backs and tight ends utilized to give you an embarrassing number of assets in the passing game.

Trips Tight Ends and Guns Split Close are devastating formations to run with, while play-action (PA) plays are abundant in the setup.

In PA Counter go, for example, defenders thinking the running back has been handed the ball should leave their coverage weaker, allowing the deep crossing route runners free for big gains.

Posts is a play used a lot around the Madden community with the running back exploiting the middle of the field, while Pats Y Out can beat man coverage when used properly.

Best Running Playbook: Baltimore Ravens

Best plays:

  • HB Power G (I Form Twin TE)
  • Jet Touch Pass (Pistol Strong Slot)
  • Triple Option (Pistol Strong Slot)

This one is an agreed-upon choice across the Madden community, with the combination of standard running plays and the influence of Lamar Jackson’s unique game at the quarterback position.

You’ll need a mobile quarterback to extract all of the goodness out of this playbook, though the variety is worth the investment.

There are 11 different sets using the pistol formation alone, with many play-action and option plays giving you flexibility while keeping the defense guessing.

The sets also give you enough space for your quarterback to run around and make a play, either with their arm or their legs.

On top of this, the Ravens run a number of plays with conventional rushing in mind, too, reflective of Mark Ingram’s influence on things.

The HB Power G in the I Form Twin TE formation is just one play making the most of the qualities a hand-off to the outside can bring.

Best Balanced Playbook: Las Vegas Raiders

Best plays:

  • X Spot (Gun Trips TE)
  • Mesh Spot (Gun Tight Slots HB Wk)
  • Inside Cross (Gun Trips TE)

Arguably the best offensive playbook in Madden last year, the Las Vegas Raiders again sit atop the tree in Madden 21 thanks to the variety of ways in which they can break down opposing defenses.

Inside Cross (Guns Trips TE formation) will be a dependable play to get five to ten yards and to keep drives moving downfield. 

On the rushing side of things, several of your best plays will be run in the dependable I Form, with a full back along with the offensive line bulking up your blocking game.

The variety of Jon Gruden’s offense has something for everybody, and there’s no doubt that something will fit your style across the several formations.

Best Defensive Playbooks in Madden 21

They say that “defense wins championships,” so make sure that you incorporate one of the best Madden 21 defensive playbooks into your team.

Best 4-3 Playbook: Kansas City Chiefs, the Nickel 3-3-5

Best plays:

  • Cover 1 Contain Spy (Nickel 3-3-5)
  • Cover 1 Robber Press (4-3 Under)
  • Tampa 2 (4-3 Under)

Despite the Chiefs’ poor defensive player ratings, the Super Bowl champions make up for their pitfalls with top-quality defensive settings, particularly in a 4-3. 

Stopping the run is the first and foremost goal in this formation, and this should set a nice trap to cover all bases on third down when the opposition needs substantial yardage on third down.

For all of the plaudits given to its depth in the 4-3, the kicker to this playbook, the Nickel 3-3-5 defensive formation, is also hugely effective, with its different looks almost exclusive to them.

Cover 1 Contain Spy will be a tremendous asset when your opponent wants to scramble and improvise, so having it in your arsenal brings peace of mind. 

Best 3-4 Playbook: New York Giants

Best plays:

  • Cover 1 QB Contain (3-4 Bear)
  • Cover 2 Man (3-4 Odd)
  • Fire Zone Bluff (3-4 Odd)

Head coach Joe Judge and Patrick Graham have formulated a strong defensive playbook for 3-4 users, with versatility brought by the outside linebackers sometimes playing as edge linemen. 

For playing against dual-threat quarterbacks, Cover 1 QB Contain in the 3-4 Bear set can definitely be experimented with, with a linebacker deployed to both patrol the middle of the field and keep an eye on a potential scramble from the quarterback.

In situations where passing is likely, Cover 2 Man covers all bases, in case the opposition throws check-downs around the line of scrimmage, while Fire Zone Bluff (3-4 Odd) is a more exotic zone set that can trip a defense thinking that a blitz is coming.

Best Versatile Defensive Playbook: Chicago Bears

Best plays:

  • Cover 1 Robber Press (3-4 Predator)
  • Nickel Blitz 2 (Nickel Triple)
  • 3 Sam Ss Blitz – (Nickel 3-3-5 Wide)

While running more 3-4 defense, the Bears add their variety through several Nickel and Dime packages, in what is a playbook of flair and depth.

The Bears are the only team with Cover 1 Robber Press in the 3-4 Predator formation, which gives the middle linebackers freedom to fulfill team needs, while one wide linebacker attempts to blitz from the edge.

While the 3-4 Predator formation is the signature of the Bears on defense, pivoting to their 4-3 look is a great plan-B to curb both the run and pass.

Not trying to reinvent the wheel, the plays in this formation are fairly standard, though it’s their simplicity and symmetry that means that there will never be huge gaps that your opponents can expose.

Also, look out for their variety in Nickel plays, which have a level of disguise that could be more effective in online play.

A final note: the Multiple D playbook is easily the most in-depth defensive playbook, though, isn’t available for MUT at this point.

Looking for Madden 21 guides?

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

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 (and Worst) Teams to Play with on Franchise Mode, Online, and to Rebuild

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


Daniel Beswick

When Daniel isn't trying to find the best sports gaming simulator ever made, he is looking at stats for Fox Sports Australia, contributing, to the Emerging Cricket movement, or on twitter @DGBeswick1.

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