Madden 18 – NFC South – CFM Preview – Team Grades

Madden 18 – NFC South – Team Preview

Continuing with our team previews for the upcoming Madden 18 we turn our attention to the NFC South. Where the competition is going to be like the weather – HOT! – There is plenty to like in this division and it is likely one of the few divisions where we have two teams who get A’s!

Our Resident Madden Guru DaBurg provides his analysis on the division and believe it or not he doesn’t try to sell his Panthers too high!

Also we are joined by Special Guests from the guys at Brits in End Zone Podcast who provide their pick of the NFC South! If you haven’t heard of them give them a follow today Here

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers are the Super Bowl 50 runners-up and had a lack luster 2016 campaign finishing (6-10) and dead last in the NFC South.  Many claim that their fall was due to the exit of All-Pro corner Josh Norman but that isn’t entirely accurate. The likely culprit is loss of key veteran leadership and WR (Jerricho Cotchery ), Safety (Roman Harper), CB Charles “Peanut” Tillman and DE Jared Allen.  Additionally, the talented but often injured Jonathan Stewart and Michael Oher played a role in their mediocrity.

Player to Watch: Christian “Run-CMC” McCaffrey – While not the best pure RB taken in the draft I do believe that he is the most dynamic. He’s a guy who has great speed, instincts and agility with hands that could see him lining up in the slot in certain situations. Most of all he’s a guy with something to prove as many in the media have downplayed his athleticism.

Over-Rated Player: Jonathan “Mr. Glass” Stewart  – I consider J-Stew a top 10 back when healthy but the problem is just that, he’s injured a lot. With him aging, history of injuries and depth at the RB position-It will be hard to move or justify keeping him with his $6,175,000 cap hit. If regression and injuries are like they were in M17, you should look to ship him to a cap heavy team in need.

Weakness: Secondary- Their secondary woes are twofold.  Firstly, the loss of veteran leadership in the secondary, along with All-Pro CB Josh Norman jumping ship.  Lack of consistent pressure from front 7 has now made less experienced secondary more porous, as seen in their first half of the season. James Bradberry was statically the best rookie corner last year so that’s promising for their young/inexperienced secondary. With all that being said, this is Madden. So unless EA accurately represents their defensive struggles they will still be 2015 good.

Wrap-Up: Overall the team has talent in all the right places. Stud TE in Greg Olsen, Dual threat QB in Cam Newton, diversity in the backfield with the duo of Stewart and McCaffrey , speedster who can stretch the field in WR Samuel. With 17.5M in cap space and only two noteworthy players needing to be resigned (Thomas Davis and Star Lotulelei) within the first two years of your CFM.

Despite their SB hangover without the SB, the Carolina Panther are a Madden ready team. They have talent with long contracts on both sides of the ball. Their depth at WR and RB could lend a trade savvy coach more ammo for trade negotiations.

Connected Franchise Grade: B-

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons are the Super Bowl 51 runners-up and had an amazing 2016 campaign finishing (11-5) and 1st NFC South.  Their offense was amazing as they put up 33.8 points per game last year.

Player to Watch: Julio “Panther Poacher” Jones – The guy is an absolute nightmare for opposing secondary.  Can run any route, can go across the middle and over top and most of all has shown the ability to make tough catches in traffic during clutch moments. Julio is a legitimate redzone threat that attracts so much attention he can help the novice and even the most experienced CFM player thrive.

Over-Rated Player: Mohamed “Didn’t Do Nothing” Sanu – For a guy last season that signed 5 year $32.5M with 14.0M in guaranteed money, you’d think he’d have more production. Depending on your style of play, you should be asking yourself a few things. Will he get an opportunity to produce in my offense? Are his ratings in Madden solid? If not, will he be able to get enough XP in my system to make his contract easier to swallow? Last thing you want is a guy eating up cap space that’s putting up #3WR stats, but getting fringe #1WR money.

Weakness:  Defense(but only kind of) Here’s the thing with the Falcons.  In real life, they struggle to stop anyone especially, on short passes. With a bottom third ranked pass rush. It’s no surprise teams were able to consistently get through their reads. This was evidenced by their often mentioned SB 51 meltdown. With that being said they have speed, youth and athleticism on defense (insert drool Emoji). So unless Madden finds a way to truly represent their short comings via attributes, I think it’s safe to say their D will be Madden solid.

Wrap-Up: The Falcons have kept the main contributors to their success on the roster and added where they were lacking. With a Madden good defense, the MVP at the helm, a deadly duo at RB and of course Mr. Jones terrorizing secondary. It’s hard to see this team slipping outside the top five.

The major thing to be mindful of is Matt “Matty Ice” Ryan. He’s getting up in age (32) and is on the tail end of a huge contract. Depending on player regression this year and your cap situation after year one (current cap is $6.8M), you may want to look at getting some youth at the position. Majority of his 2018 salary is bonus free so you could cut ties and free up some much needed cap space after year once.

Connected Franchise Grade: A-

New Orleans Saints 

There’s a reason the “Who Dat” nation is often referred to as Drew Brees & Co. It’s because he’s essentially it. With their main playmaker Brandin Cooks gone to NE to play for Bill “Clipboard Jesus” Belichick, who else can you instantly say you’d want on your team?

Player to Watch: Marshon Lattimore – This one is pretty straight forward. He’s rookie CB with great ball skills, on a rookie contract who playing on a team that was dead last in pass D. He literally has nowhere else to go but up. I see him filling opposing coaches with regret for testing out the young corner.

Over-Rated Player: Drew “Breezus” Brees  – I know it’s blasphemy that I’m calling a stud and future HOF’er “overrated”. Here’s why -we all know Madden hates old people and Drew is a Madden senior citizen. Not to mention he’s an expensive one $19.0M due to him for the 2017 season. He will either retire on you or become an expensive pensioner if you keep him around too long.

Weakness: Defense- Their D was mediocre at best last season but they’ve taken action to improve. They have added youth (big plus in Madden) and experience at each level of the defense. Let’s just hope the additions translate well into CFM.

Wrap-Up: Overall the team has potential if you are a seasoned CFM player. However, if you are new to Madden and struggle getting more from less(meaning lots of season 2 resigning’s and only $13M cap), you should pick a different team.

There’s an opportunity to draft a young QB to replace Brees and use the combo of Ingram and Peterson to help your young QB in the second year of you CFM.

Connected Franchise Grade: D

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

We all know this team hasn’t really been relevant since their Derrick Brooks/Warren Sapp days but that may just change with the 2017 season. They are coming off their first winning season since 2010 and may challenge for the ever changing NFC crown.

Player to Watch: Jameis “Krusty Krabs” Winston – Jameis Winston has the opportunity to do great things for your CFM. He’s a young QB that has improved consistently since he’s been in the league. He has walking mismatches to throw to in O.J “Da Juice Man” Howard and Mike”n’Ike” Evans. With the changes to Madden having attributes play a large role, it’s imperative you keep this good young QB. One down side is he’s got two seasons left on his rookie contract, so you’ll likely pay big money to keep him. * Or you could just throw a few crab legs in to sweeten the pot*

Over-Rated Player: Brent“Optimus” Grimes – While we all know he’s a beast in real life, his age and salary will be his undoing in Madden. I’ve said it before; Madden hates old people and at 34 Grimes is Madden old. He becomes an unrestricted free agent after the 2017 season so you can be free of him rather quickly if need be. Like any old veteran regression should factor in how much you’re willing to spend to keep him.

Weakness: Cornerback- They are a team with an aging veteran and young, year two player at CB. It’s likely opponents will become more pass happy with the additional of WR/DB battles and changes to passing in M18, you’ll need to ensure this position group doesn’t become a liability.

Wrap-Up: Overall the team has a good combination of youth and experience at most position groups.  With $23.0M in cap space and all your key players locked up a until at least year three, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a top five CFM team in my opinion.

Connected Franchise Grade: A

Special Guests Pick!!!! – @Brits_EndZone – JP

Falcons – ‘Highest scoring offence – Julio Jones – if you were to build the perfect wide receiver from scratch it would be him. Freeman and Coleman great duo and Matty Ice (minus the last quarter of a superbowl)’

Once again thanks to the guys at BritsInTheEndZone with their analysis on the division. if you haven’t checked out their podcast before I suggest you do you can find out more about them Here

Thanks to Burg for his pick – How do you think he went? Do you think the Bucs are overated? Was he too harsh on the Saints and his hatred for them graded them lower? Would love to hear your thoughts and reaction. Continue to keep an eye on the site over the week as more divisions will be previewed.