Let’s set the record straight. I’m not super gamer. But I do love my yearly dose of Madden. And just this year, I’ve discovered the key to winning practically every game, on every level of difficulty, and against any human player.
There are four key strategies to follow; two on defense and two on offense.
While on offense, you should start the game off with passing plays. Make sure to analyze the defensive strategy. Don’t be afraid to take an early sack. The important thing is to get a feel for how the defense is plays when it thinks you’ll have a pass-heavy gameplan. Pretty soon the defense should start bringing a blitz. Take note of where the blitz tends to come from. Analyze a few instant replays to identify the weakness in the defense. Then start exploiting the weakness by taking 3 or 5 step drops and unleashing the ball in rhythm to beat the blitz. There are several plays that I like for beating the blitz. If the defense is blitzing linebackers, then use quick slants over the middle or HB fades to the blitzing side. If the defense is blitzing corners and the safeties are playing up close, then send your speediest receiver deep and hurl the ball on a 3 step drop. If the safeties are playing deep, then use WR cutbacks. Finally, if the defense is stacking one side for the pass blitz, you can always run either up the gut or to the unstacked side. I’ve found that running to beat the blitz can often turn into touchdowns if the defense is sending too many guys.
Ok. So I’ve given you a little offensive strategy. But to really succeed at Madden, you need to crack down on defense. Otherwise, you’ll get yourself into a shootout with the other team. Here’s how I play a defensive game. For the entire first drive of a game I play tight conservative zone defense with one Linebacker spy to cover the edges. Most players try to exploit the edges on the run so find a fast Linebacker to shut this down while still being available to clog the middle. The reason I play a tight zone on the first drive is to get a feel for the opposing teams patterns and to see if the opposing team can consistently beat my defense “straight up.” If the zone works, then I stick with it, throwing in the occassional linebacker blitz. Conservative defenses work in Madden because they make it much more difficult for your opponent to nail the “big play” and forces them to play a consistent offense. It also creates more opportunities for mistakes if the opposing team has to march slowly down the field.
If your opponent shows running tendencies to the outside edge, then I would actually spread your defense out by calling some nickel or dime defenses. Make sure you select a player and force a contain. If your opponent runs up the gut most of the time, then choose a 4-3 defense. I wouldn’t advise blitzing because the 4-3 provides enough of a stack to keep most up the gut runs under 4 yards. Madden over-rewards blitz-breaking plays, so be forewarned.
If your opponent primarily passes, then I would choose plays that send your safeties deep (making sure not to get burnt deep), have man to man coverage on the corners and zone in the middle, maybe with a linebacker blitz to keep the quarterback honest.
These defensive strategies, while not sexy, will more often than not result in a “bend but not break” situation where you’re putting the honus of perfection on the offense. You’re forcing the opposing QB to be precise and the HB to break tackles. Sooner or later, mistakes will crop up and you’ll be able to take advantage of them and go in for the kill on offense.