Madden 23: Best Playbooks for Sim

Here are the best playbooks for simulation in Madden 23.

For some Madden gamers, it’s not really about playing the game of football; it’s about creating your team and watching it play out in your way. That means some only like to play through the offseason in Madden 23: signings, the NFL Draft, trades, and more. While you can start with a fantasy draft, you can work with the current rosters and then shape your team from there.

Below, you will find the teams with the best playbooks for simulating through seasons up to the offseason in Madden 23. There will also be some tips for team selection when choosing to simulate after undergoing a small experiment.

How each team was chosen for simulating in Madden 23

To prevent from just selecting the best teams by overall rating, the aforementioned experiment took place:

  • Teams: 15 of 32 teams were selected for the experiment
    • Five teams were the top five by overall rating as of August 31, 2022
    • Five teams were the bottom five by overall rating as of August 31, 2022
    • Five teams were teams in the middle by overall rating as of August 31, 2022
  • Each team had the 2022 season simulated five separate times for a total of 75 different simulations of the 2022 season
  • A table of all 15 teams and their results will be at the bottom of the page

These were the following parameters set for each simulated season:

  • Starting point was set to regular season
  • Difficulty was set to All-Madden and Simulation
  • Season goals were set to make playoffs (top five) and win seven games (other ten teams)
  • The five teams chosen (more below) were chosen with the idea that a successful season would be making the playoffs

Best playbooks for sim in Madden 23

Below are the five best team playbooks for simulating in Madden 23. There are a few assumptions in making this list. First, it is assumed you will simulate the entire first season until the offseason. Second, from there, it’s assumed you will then mold the personnel to fit the team ideology. Lastly, it’s assumed you will keep simulating seasons and “play” the offseason.

Four of the five teams were in the simulations while one team was chosen based on the results. They will be listed in alphabetical order.

1. Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore was one of the random teams in the middle chosen in the experiment. They made the playoffs three of the five simulated seasons, but lost in the Wild Card round each time.

Still, this all comes down to one player: Jackson (87 OVR). The supremely talented quarterback should only see his rating grow throughout the season. Few, if any, quarterbacks match his combination of passing and running ability. The offense has top tight end Mark Andrews (93 OVR) and halfback J.K. Dobbins (81 OVR) to help Jackson, not to mention a slew of read option plays that puts Jackson’s legs to use. The defense is stout, per Baltimore tradition, with corners Marlon Humphrey (90 OVR) and Marcus Peters (86 OVR), Michael Pierce (88 OVR) and Calais Campbell (87 OVR) on the line, and Marcus Williams (86 OVR) at a safety spot.

2. Buffalo Bills

Like Baltimore, Buffalo’s success largely rides on the arm and legs of quarterback Josh Allen (92 OVR). Added to their defense that only grew stronger with the addition of Von Miller (92 OVR) and you can see why Buffalo only had one losing season of the five simulations.

Allen’s top target is Stefon Diggs (95 OVR), who can blaze by most defensive backs with his 92 Speed. He also has tight end Dawson Knox (83 OVR), halfback Devin Singletary (81 OVR), and receiver Gabe Davis (80 OVR). On defense, the Bills have Tre’Davious White (93 OVR) and Taron Johnson (82 OVR) at corner, Ed Oliver (81 OVR) up front with Miller, and Tremaine Edmunds (84 OVR) and Matt Milano (81 OVR) at linebacker positions.

3. Green Bay Packers

Regardless of his off-the-field actions, Aaron Rodgers (96 OVR) is still one of the greatest quarterback to ever sling the pigskin. A talent like his is enough to withstand the departure of 99 Club receiver Davante Adams.

That isn’t to say the receiving corps is great. In Madden 23, the top receivers are Sammy Watkins (79 OVR), Randall Cobb (78 OVR), and Allen Lazard (77 OVR). Tight ends Robert Tonyan (80 OVR) and Marcedes Lewis (78 OVR) round what the main receivers. On defense, Rodgers gets help with the likes of Jaire Alexander (94 OVR) and Adrian Amos (88 OVR) in the secondary, and Rashan Gary (89 OVR) and Kenny Clark (89 OVR) in the front seven.

However, mostly because of Rodgers, the Packers had three 15-win seasons in the simulations and one of the Super Bowl-winning seasons

4. Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City is the one team listed who was not in the experiment. After seeing the results, Kansas City was chosen because not only do they have Patrick Mahomes (95 OVR), but also another superstar in tight end Travis Kelce (98 OVR) who is on the same side of the ball as Mahomes.

Halfback Clyde Edwards-Helaire (79 OVR) looks to grow in his third year, and could see a breakthrough while simulating. The receiving corps isn’t as intimidating as in the past, but with Mahomes’ passing, their levels will be elevated. They include JuJu Smith-Schuster (80 OVR), Mecole Hardman (79 OVR), and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (76 OVR).

On defense, tackle Chris Jones (91 OVR) leads the line that also includes Frank Clark (78 OVR) and Carlos Dunlap II (76 OVR). The secondary is led by Justin Reid (82 OVR) and L’Jarius Sneed (81 OVR).

5. Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia is an interesting team. Many see this as a make-or-break season – or a breakout if you’re optimistic – for quarterback Jalen Hurts. (74 OVR). The third-year player may see massive growth if Madden’s simulations are any indication.

First, the Eagles at least have a stout tackle to lead the offensive line in Lane Johnson (92 OVR), giving Hurts more time. Miles Sanders (82 OVR) will help out of the backfield, but receivers A.J. Brown (87 OVR) and DeVonta Smith (83 OVR) will be Hurts’ main targets. Tight end Dallas Goedert (85 OVR) is also there for receptions.

Darius Slay, Jr. (92 OVR) leads the defense and secondary, joined by James Bradberry IV in the secondary. Fletcher Cox (88 OVR) and Javon Hargrave (84 OVR) clog the middle, with Haason Reddick (82 OVR), Brandon Graham (80 OVR), Josh Sweat (80 OVR), and Anthony Harris (80 OVR) rounding out the defense.

Now, during the simulations, Philadelphia missed the playoffs three times. However, they were the only team to finish above .500 (nine wins) in all five seasons.

Tips for success before simulating

Below are some things you can do before you simulate your season to set your team up for the most success. Note that just because you do the below does not mean you will have complete success. Many things are factored into simulations beyond ratings, such as player progression/regression and injuries.

1. Set your team’s scheme

The first thing you should do is set your team’s scheme from the franchise main screen. You can select both your offensive and defensive ones, including the playbooks, or leave them with their defaults. On the right side of the screen, you’ll see how your current personnel match your scheme, including the scheme fit percentage on the top right. Needless to say, the higher the percentage, the better the fit.

Picking the right scheme will help your team perform its best during simulated games. This is a crucial step that can be easily overlooked.

2. Set your season goal

While the season goals don’t necessarily affect you while simulating, they can add to your staff points to use for upgrades during the offseason (more below). There are four different goals you can set:

  • Win four games (conservative goal)
  • Win seven games (moderate goal)
  • Make playoffs (aggressive goal)
  • Win Super Bowl (aggressive goal)

As stated before, even among the top five teams by overall rating, only five Super Bowls were made and two won, so be cautious. Caution is warranted as the aggressive goals have a higher chance of you being fired if you fail to meet those goals than the other two.

3. Use upgrade points on your staff

Regardless of the team, you should start with a few upgrade points that you can use on your staff. You may only have enough points for one upgrade, but some coaches will have enough for more.

Each coach has a talent tree and a number of points needed to unlock an ability/perk. There is one for the head coach, offensive and defensive coordinators, and player personnel. Since you’ll be simulating through the season, most of this will happen in the offseason, but doing what you can here will help your percentages if even by only a fraction of a percent.

You can also hire and fire coaches before the season begins from the franchise staff section. Just keep an eye on your budget.

4. Upgrade players (if any)

You may also have upgrade points to use on players. If you do, you’ll see a similar screen to what is pictured. You can auto upgrade all available players with Triangle on PlayStation and Y on Xbox, but it will randomly assign the upgrade. You can manually go through each player and choose the upgrade yourself.

5. Peruse the free agent market

For some teams, an upgrade here and there is what’s needed to truly separate them from the pack. If you’re using Kansas City or Green Bay, for example, adding a top and explosive receiver can only work wonders for the offense.

As such, you should explore the free agent market when you begin your franchise. Odell Beckham, Jr. (88 OVR) would be a boon to any receiving corps, especially one virtually led by Mahomes or Rodgers. There are others as well, and upgrading with (mostly) cheap one-year deals may be more beneficial than giving up draft picks for players in trades.

6. Explore trade offers (if any)

Speaking of trades, you may begin the season with trade offers for your players. You can view the offers from teams and notice that some teams will offer you players with a higher rating than the player they’re asking for, indicating an area of need. Find the best one for you and decide accordingly.

You can also make your own offers. Look through the trade block and see if any players on the block are both within the budget and a teams need.

7. Set your scouts to prepare for the Draft

Maybe most importantly for those who love the offseason game, set your scouts and find your favorite prospects. You have a set of scouts, all of whom have regional expertise and positional focus. You can also replace your current scouts with others, but again, watch your budget. Making sure your scouts know their foci before simulating will only help you with the forthcoming draft class.

This is even more important should you choose to auto-generate a draft class with random names. You can download classes from the server, and users will put up multiple seasons of draft prospects currently playing in college. Still, even if you have an idea of the real-life counterparts now, they can vastly change in a Madden season, so scouting is of the utmost importance.

All teams and results of simulations

Here are all of the teams chosen for the simulations. Again, the first five were the top five by overall rating, the next five were the bottom five by overall rating, and the last five teams in the middle by overall rating.

Team Division Ratings 2022 Season 1 2022 Season 2 2022 Season 3 2022 Season 4 2022 Season 5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFC South 87 OVR, 88 OFF, 87 DEF 15-2, won Super Bowl 11-6, lost Divisional Playoff 8-9, missed Playoffs 10-7, lost Super Bowl 8-9, missed Playoffs
Philadelphia Eagles NFC East 85 OVR, 85 OFF, 85 DEF 9-8, missed Playoffs 9-8, missed Playoffs 9-8, missed Playoffs 10-7, missed Playoffs 11-6, lost Divisional Playoff
Dallas Cowboys NFC East 84 OVR, 87 OFF, 81 DEF 13-4, lost Super Bowl 8-9, missed Playoffs 10-7, lost Divisional Playoff 9-8, missed Playoffs 10-7, lost Super Bowl
Cincinnati Bengals AFC North 84 OVR, 85 OFF, 83 DEF 12-5, lost Conference Championship 10-7, lost Divisional Playoff 7-10, missed Playoffs 12-5, lost Divisional Playoff 14-3, lost Wild Card
Green Bay Packers NFC North 84 OVR, 83 OFF, 87 DEF 10-7, lost Wild Card 15-2, lost Divisional Playoff 8-9, missed Playoffs 15-2, won Super Bowl 15-2, lost Conference Championship
Houston Texans AFC South 73 OVR, 73 OFF, 75 DEF 4-13, missed Playoffs 8-9, missed Playoffs 6-11, missed Playoffs 6-11, missed Playoffs 2-15, missed Playoffs
Chicago Bears NFC North 75 OVR, 75 OFF, 75 DEF 5-12, missed Playoffs 5-12, missed Playoffs 7-10, missed Playoffs 8-9, missed Playoffs 8-9, missed Playoffs
New York Giants NFC East 77 OVR, 77 OFF, 77 DEF 5-12, missed Playoffs 7-10, missed Playoffs 4-13, missed Playoffs 6-11, missed Playoffs 6-11, missed Playoffs
Detroit Lions NFC North 77 OVR, 80 OFF, 75 DEF 6-11, missed Playoffs 7-10, missed Playoffs 5-12, missed Playoffs         7-10, missed Playoffs 7-10, missed Playoffs
Seattle Seahawks NFC West 77 OVR, 77 OFF, 79 DEF 5-12, missed Playoffs 4-13, missed Playoffs 2-15, missed Playoffs 1-16, missed Playoffs 1-16, missed Playoffs
Arizona Cardinals NFC West 79 OVR, 81 OFF, 77 DEF 11-6, lost Divisional Playoff 5-12, missed Playoffs 8-9, missed Playoffs 6-11, missed Playoffs 6-11, missed Playoffs
Baltimore Ravens AFC North 80 OVR, 80 OFF, 81 DEF 12-5, lost Wild Card 10-7, lost Wild Card 10-7, missed Playoffs 8-9, missed Playoffs 12-5, lost Wild Card
Buffalo Bills AFC East 82 OVR, 81 OFF, 85 DEF 12-5, lost Conference Championship 12-5, lost Wild Card 8-9, missed Playoffs 13-4, lost Conference Championship 10-7, lost Wild Card
Miami Dolphins AFC East 81 OVR, 83 OFF, 80 DEF 10-7, lost Wild Card 7-10, missed Playoffs 6-11, missed Playoffs 6-11, missed Playoffs 8-9, missed Playoffs
Carolina Panthers NFC South 79 OVR, 79 OFF, 81 DEF 7-10, missed Playoffs 10-7, lost Wild Card 3-14, missed Playoffs 8-9, missed Playoffs 7-10, missed Playoffs

The varied results of the simulations led to a few suggestions.

Overall rating is still the best barometer for simulating games

It’s no surprise that of the 25 simulated seasons for the top five teams by overall rating, only five were below .500, an average of one per team. Conversely, of the 25 simulated seasons for the bottom teams, all 25 were below .500. Of the five random teams in the middle, 14 were below .500. However, the details are important.

Only one team had all five seasons above .500 (at least nine wins). Only five of the 75 simulated seasons resulted in a Super Bowl appearance. Of those three, only two seasons (2.7 percent) ended with the Lombardi Trophy.

That means that overall rating is still your best bet at making the playoffs, but it’s not everything.

Choose a team with a dynamic quarterback

While Tampa Bay had one Super Bowl win in the 75 simulations, the teams that had the best success – or overachieved – were those with dynamic quarterbacks who can make plays with their arms and their legs. Quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts, Aaron Rodgers, Josh Allen, and emerging talents like Justin Fields and Trey Lance fit the mold.

Quarterbacks are still the most important position on the field. They call plays, diagnose defenses, call audibles and hot routes on the fly, and – aside from the center – are the only player who touches the ball on every play (barring trick plays and player-specific packages). Those that can stymie the defense through the air and on the ground are the most difficult to stop, and thus present the best opportunities to win games while simulating.

When in doubt, find a good defense

The best teams pair a game-changing offense with a stalwart defense. However, if your chosen team lacks on offense, then hopefully they have a good defense. Teams with stout defenses will do well in simulation because of their ability to prevent points. While it isn’t surprising to see teams score 40+ while simulating, it’s also common to see teams score seven or less against good defenses.

Surprises can happen

Take the Chicago Bears, for example. During their five-season simulation, they had three seasons of at least seven wins and two of eight wins. Madden doesn’t rate them highly with 75 in offense, defense, and overall, yet the defense in real life looks to be above-average and Fields may see a leap if the offensive line gives him time. The Bears also made the Super Bowl in two different simulations for other teams, so pairing a quarterback like Fields with a good defense can lead to simulated success.

Other surprises included Cleveland, Washington, and Indianapolis all making at least one Super Bowl while simulating (none of the three were teams in the experiment). Another included Cincinnati – a team in the simulations – not receiving a bye with a record of 14-3 and losing in the Wild Card round. Lastly, there were also two one-win seasons, both from the now Russell Wilson-less Seattle Seahawks.

All that is to say that while you can stack things in your favor (more below), simulating is not an exact science.

Now you have everything you need to know to simulate your franchise’s seasons and play what really matters to you: the offseason. Which team will you choose?

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