So I’ve been wanting to write this post for a bit, to share with you all a little bit of the obsessiveness that comes over me when Madden drops. I was a huge fan of Franchise mode in Madden and I’m turning into a huge fan of Connected Careers Mode (CCM) in Madden 13, though I admit that the mode does drop the ball in a few places that longtime franchise fans will not like. CCM has two options, offline and online, offline is more similar to the old franchise mode while online allows you to basically create and participate in your own NFL with up to 32 of your buddies. For the purposes of this post, I’m focusing on the online CCM because since there are multiple people playing you might not be able to get your favorite team and if that somehow happens, what are you to do then? No worries it happened to me and I had to figure this out, so I wanted to share with you the answers I came up with and a short rationale on why. When you can’t have your favorite teams, then you have no personal attachments to the teams and it becomes all about strategy and the numbers. Enough talk though, let’s break it down.
*Ratings and Salary Cap information is accurate as of 7 September 2012 and assumes that you did choose to use the Connected Careers roster update data.
Honorable Mention-Oakland Raiders
Al Davis may be gone but in the right situation, the Raiders can still “just win baby, win”. Regardless to what the Raiders play like in real life, in Madden 13 they are a solid team coming in at a 74 OVR. They are fairly balanced on both OFF 81 and DEF 82. To top that off they open up with 10.99M in cap room. The Raiders have a solid QB in Carson Palmer, a beast of a running back in Darren McFadden and some WR’s that are coming into their own. Their O-Line could be better and their defense does have some holes but that nearly 11 million dollars in cap space gives you some options to fill those gaps and make people respect the silver and black once again.
5. Arizona Cardinals/Buffalo Bills (TIE)
This one was actually closer than you think, really couldn’t decide. Overall, the Cardinals edge out the Bills 79 to 77 but that’s insignificant. The Cardinals get the edge in OFF by a one point edge of 82 to 81 but they both have an 83 for DEF. When we look at cap space, the Cardinals again have the edge but just barely at 13.99M to the Bills 11.34M.
So it seems as if they Cards are better almost all around, how can it be a tie? In Madden its about the big picture and that’s where it gets tough. At QB the Bills have Ryan Fitzpatrick who is very underrated and has to get the edge over either Kevin Kolb or John Skelton who’d I suggest you start if you are the Cardinals. Both teams have a decent set of RBs and the Bills might get the slight edge with their combo of Jackson/Spiller over the Cardinals Wells/Williams tandem. At WR, Larry Fitzgerald will give you a huge weapon and while Stevie Johnson is coming into his own, he’s nowhere near Fitz level. Both teams have fairly solid defenses that should you select either one you will have a decent amount of cap room to fill in the holes. If it gets down to these two teams I’d personally go with the Cardinals purely because of Fitzgerald, but if you end up with the Bills don’t think all is lost.
4. Cincinnati Bengals
A shocker I’m sure to see the Bengals at #4 on my list but remember this isn’t the best teams in Madden 13, these are the best teams for online CCM. The Bengals come in rated a solid 79 OVR and pull in a respectable 81 OFF and 83 DEF rating, making them a team that is no slow leak as we call it down south. Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Bengals is that they start with a whooping 21.59M in cap room. If you are a guy like me, the combination of current roster skill and all that cap flexibility has you drooling right now.
The Bengals have a solid QB/WR combo in Andy Dalton and A.J Green, throw in the underrated Jermaine Gresham and you really have something there. On defense, they can put on a solid pass rush and have LBs that are pretty versatile. Their running backs aren’t great, but with that much cap room and some imagination with draft picks that is something that you could rectify very quickly. I can think of more than a few RBs you could trade for, giving up 2nd to 4th round picks to acquire them and really being none the worse for wear. Same thing goes for their WR’s after Green, some talent but most are unproven and you can definitely improve that core through trades and free agency pickups since you have all that cap room after all. Don’t sleep on the Bengals, they are a few smart moves from being one of the best overall teams on the game.
Ah the Texans, in real life every year I keep waiting for them to play as good in real life as their roster seems to say that they should. No matter though because this isn’t real life, its Madden. The Texans open with solid 79 OVR, with an 84 OFF and 82 DEF. To round that out, they start off with 14.21M in cap space. The Texans have a solid QB in Matt Schaub, a Pro Bowl RB in Arian Foster and a Pro Bowl WR in Andre Johnson. That tandem right there is good enough to win you a lot of games, but they have solid depth at RB as well. This is another team that gets a little thin in terms of depth at WR but we can fix that. They have a great defense in terms of the D-Line and LBs but their secondary is still a concern, especially Safety play. I would also like to see some improvement to the offensive line. Again, the Texans are a solid team on the brink of being a great team if you know what moves to make.
This one may come as no surprise, but the 49ers are pretty good. They come in with an 83 OVR and post solid numbers for OFF 85 and DEF 87. In fact that defense is what makes them a compelling pick, even if their offense can’t score points, their defense can. The offense is no slouch, but QB Alex Smith’s play can be erratic. I’m not saying you should replace him, but looking for a solid second option wouldn’t be a bad idea. Frank Gore gives you a beast at the RB spot, but his health is a concern. No worries though as he has quite a bit of depth behind him with names like Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James in the mix just to name a few. The WR situation in SF is interesting, you have an aging Randy Moss on one side and an underachieving Michael Crabtree on the other. That’s in real life though, in Madden they are both above average receiving options and Moss is quite effective with fade routes to the corner of the endzone. To top that off, they have 5.57M in cap room, not a ton but for a team that is already this good, more than enough.
1. New England Patriots
So here you have it folks, my number 1 team that I recommend playing with in online CCM in Madden 13, the New England Patriots. Let me be clear, I’m not a Patriots fan, this was all about business for me when I dropped into a league and all three of my go to teams were already taken. When that happened, I thought, if it’s not personal it has to be strategic. The Patriots are an unbelievably well-balanced team, coming in at 85 OVR with 85 OFF and 81 DEF. They have one of the most prolific QBs in history in Tom Brady, an unstoppable slot reciever in Wes Welker, and a set of TE’s that are game changers. They also have excellent talent on the O-Line, D-Line and in the LB core. Where the Patriots are vulnerable is in the secondary and at WR. Not to mention there RB’s are exactly gamebreakers.
I would rate myself as an above average Madden player but I learned in my second online CCM game against the Cardinals that a suspect secondary can be deadly, Larry Fitzgerald went off on me and I was helpless to stop him. That was my fault though and I’m working on moves now to rectify that. As I said, the Patriots weak spots are WR, Secondary and RB in my opinion but the beautiful thing about the Patriots is that they also have 13.12M in cap room. This means that you can make some serious moves to address these gaps. On the running back front, I would suggest you take a look at some underutilized RBs that happen to play for the Cowboys, Saints, and Bills. At WR, if your league starts everyone at the same time, immediately run to the Free Agency pool and snatch up a couple of the guys that seem over the hill a bit in real life but could be effective for you in Madden, I’m thinking Chad Johnson and Plaxico Burress off the top of my head.
I’m not going to lie, the secondary is going to take some creativity and you might have to overspend a bit to get what you need but it can be done. The Patriots are a great pick for another reason, in addition to their 13M in cap space, the majority of their contracts can be cut WITHOUT penalty. Any Madden player knows that cap penalties from trades and cuts will kill you, but not with the Patriots. The majority of their contracts are structured so that you can cut even great players like Wes Welker with no penalty if you so choose to, which would allow you to free up even more cap room. You can easily run the Patriots available cap space up above 20M fairly easily, opening up tons of possibilities if you have to take on salary or incur cap penalties on other deals. As I said, I’m not saying the Patriots are the best team on the game, I’m simply saying that if your favorite teams are already gone, you could do a whole lot worse than picking the Patriots or any team on this list.
I think that the teams on this list are the best teams to use for online CCM because if you are in a league, you should be in it for the long run. All these teams will allow you to immediately put a quality squad onto the field and allow you to set that team up for bigger things in the future. Out of the gate you can be competitive with all these teams and their overall configurations allow you to have flexibility as the years go by as other teams struggle with tons of bad contracts and inability to truly get better via Free Agency and trades/signings. Remember this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon and the people who pace themselves normally have what it takes to burst through to victory in the end.
There you have folks, my top 5 teams for use in Madden 13 online CCM. Hit up the comments or our Facebook page and let me know what you think. Also feel free, to shoot me any questions about things you might want to do to improve your team.
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