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Team Breakdowns: NFC West

Posted September 1st at 10:00am.

ARIZONA CARDINALS

Playbook:

The Cardinals’ playbook boasts some of the most advanced passing concepts in Madden 18.

  • Game-changing Formation: Gun Wing Stack
  • Run to Call: Inside Zone
  • Pass to Call: Double Cross
  • Base Defense: 3-4

Franchise Position Grades:

  • Best
    • HB: A+
    • CB1: A
    • ROLB: A
  • Worst
    • SS: C+
    • DT: C
    • WR3: D

Offense

The Cards’ had some rotten luck with health last season. Largely because of this, the offense was almost never in sync. With 2016 behind them, the super-talented Cardinals roster is looking to fight their way to the top of the NFC.

David Johnson was their MVP last season. This team legitimately might have gone winless without his offensive output. DJ is one of the elite players in Madden 18, one of the few that are so highly rated in rushing and catching scores. His best carrying moves are a 94 Juke and 91 Stiff Arm. Johnson turns a check down passing option into a potential home run. Do not be shy with calling DJ’s name on plays.

The air game has great potential, too. Last year’s NFL reception leader, Larry Fitzgerald, is your highest-rated wide receiver. His catch ratings easily make him a reliable target. John Brown is your explosive option and is significantly faster than Fitzgerald with a 94 Speed and better ball carrying moves. Switch up where these guys line up in the field. Fitz’s ratings make him the perfect slot receiver. Move these guys around to get the most out of your receiving corps, which isn’t very deep beyond Brown and Fitz.

Impact Players:

Defense

Sure, this unit has lost some up-front pressure with Calais Campbell shipping off to Jacksonville. It might not force the offense into quick mistakes, but this defense is still loaded with talent.

The best of them is cornerback Patrick Peterson. His base ratings and skill in Man and Zone Coverage make him one of the top CBs in Madden 18. As your primary kick returner, he also has great ball carrier moves. That, with his 92 Speed and high catching scores, make him a real game changer.

Linebacker Chandler Jones is armed with a 92 Power move, and decent Speed and Strength. He has the potential to make up for Campbell’s absence.

The honey badger will be a fun player to control. He’s a quality free safety who can not only catch but can deliver big hits. He has decent carrying moves as well, so the Peterson-Mathieu pairing is one you should throw into with extreme caution.

Impact Players:

LOS ANGELES RAMS

Playbook:

The Rams had one of the more popular playbooks in Madden 17. This season looks to be a winner again.

  • Game-changing Formation: Gun Doubles Offset Wk
  • Run to Call: HB Draw
  • Pass to Call: Sail
  • Base Defense: 3-4

Franchise Position Grades:

  • Best
    • RE: A+
    • HB: B+
    • WR1: B+
  • Worst
    • QB: C+
    • DT: C
    • TE: C

Offense

The Rams’ offense got a huge boost when they acquired Sammy Watkins. Before that trade, they had just three players on offense rated over 80 OVR, and one of them was tackle Andrew Whitworth. So yeah, things weren’t looking good.

But now they have Watkins. His addition immediately makes him the choice route runner. Tavon Austin is still your speedster, but Watkins isn’t slow with 92 Speed. His catch ratings are far more reliable and his carrying moves are more balanced. Watkins is your go to.

Todd Gurley isn’t rated at an elite level, but he has solid base ratings and his carrying moves are all in the 80s outside of Trucking. His finest move is an 88 Juke. Which means with adequate stick skills, Gurley can swing the game with any play. He has more than enough in his ratings to be the team’s workhorse, which might be necessary with QB Jared Goff’s lack of accuracy beyond short range.

Impact Players:

Defense

The defense has a few more bright spots than the offensive side. The biggest being Aaron Donald. Donald is one of just three members of Club 99 going into Madden 18. His 95 Strength and 96 Power Move mean there are few players on the O-line that can stand up to his pressure alone. With Donald pushing up front, it can create a perfect opportunity to send Alec Ogletree in for a quick sack.

With that pressure, the Rams have a few DBs skilled enough to take advantage of any mistakes, starting with Maurice Alexander, who has the Speed to be everywhere on the field. His catch skills aren’t amazing, but he’s respectable in Zone and is serviceable in Man Coverage. He also has a decent Power Move for a DB. Alexander is able to shed blockers and deliver crushing blows to any ball carrier.

If you need an INT, Trumaine Johnson gives you a solid shot. He’s good in Man Coverage, so he shouldn’t be too far from making a play when you need it.

Impact Players:

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Playbook:

The Niners’ playbook is loaded with multiple running formations for the ground-and-pound.

  • Game-changing Formation: Gun Wing Tight
  • Run to Call: Power O
  • Pass to Call: Stick Nod Vertical
  • Base Defense: 4-3

Franchise Position Grades:

  • Best
    • FB: A
    • HB: B+
    • MLB: B
  • Worst
    • QB: C+
    • CB2: C
    • WR2: D

Offense

Okay, so, use your fullback. No, seriously, use the fullback if you’re playing as the 49ers. Kyle Juszczyk is the best player on the team. He’s no speedster, but he’s great with the ball and has better catch ratings than running back Carlos Hyde. Juszczyk can be lethal in short yardage and in the redzone. Nothing fancy with him. Just run forward and truck anything that gets in your way. Keep it simple.

Hyde is a bit more dynamic. Not a great pass catcher, but he has quality carrying moves. His 88 Speed isn’t overwhelming, so your stick skills will have to be up to task in order to be effective.

Pierre Garcon is your only quality WR, your best route runner with great catching ratings. If you can manage to spread the field a bit, Marquise Goodwin is your speedy WR with a 95 Speed. But with Brian Hoyer, throwing deep is asking for trouble. Just keep Goodwin in mind for short to medium slant routes.

Impact Players:

Defense

Your most disruptive force on the defensive side is NaVorro Bowman. His block shedding is okay, and he doesn’t have the strength to consistent break through the O-line. He’s a big hitter though. Use him well in zone coverage and he can easily stop plays cold without help. With luck, those hits can force a fumble.

Elvis Dumervil is the best player on the D-line. His Speed, Strength, and Block Shedding mean he won’t be racking up the sacks, but he should be troublesome enough though to narrow running lanes. He’s also adequately skilled in Zone Coverage for the occasional drop back.

The roster demands careful attention to play calls. Blitzing will be required to bring pressure, but mix up the formations or you risk giving up big plays to teams with quality QBs.

Impact Players:

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Playbook:

The Hawks’ playbook is excellent, especially if you can utilize a mobile QB.

  • Game-changing Formation: Gun Spread Y-Slot
  • Run to Call: Read Option
  • Pass to Call: Slot Post
  • Base Defense: 4-3

Franchise Position Grades:

  • Best
    • TE: A+
    • SS: A+
    • FS: A+
  • Worst
    • DT1: C+
    • WR2: C+
    • LOLB: C

Offense

The Seahawks’ offense is led by Russell Wilson. Ratings wise, outside of maybe Aaron Rodgers, Wilson is the most balanced QB in the game. There’s nothing he can’t do. His accuracy scores don’t dip by much based on range and he’s excellent on the run. Which is good, because this team’s only glaring weakness is the O-line. You’ll need to extend plays often, so get used to scrambling or running for short gains with Wilson.

Doug Baldwin is your most reliable target. But the difference maker in the air is Jimmy Graham. He’s my favorite offensive option at TE outside of Gronk. His TE size with WR skill is a complete mismatch for most of the LBs that will be assigned to cover him. He’s nearly automatic for redzone scoring.

It’s basically a dealer’s choice scenario at running back. But I’d go with Eddie Lacy. He’s not as fast as Thomas Rawls, but his ball carrying moves are just as effective with a much better Stiff Arm and he’s a better pass catcher. C.J. Prosise the top pass catching back overall, but I like Lacy’s abilities. He doesn’t really have breakaway speed, but that can work to your favor. Get the defense to creep up before a play action deep pass to Tyler Lockett.

Impact Players:

Defense

This defense is loaded – in terms of personnel, this might be the finest overall defense in Madden 18. The secondary is cheat code level. And it doesn’t get any easier for an offense with guys like Bobby Wagner and Michael Bennett in front of them. There’s a big-time playmaker at every section of the field. Honestly, there could be an entire blog post just talking about the extreme depth of talent on this defense. But I’ll try to condense this a bit.

This is a defense that features a shutdown corner like Richard Sherman. So, what I’m about to say next means something. The combo of Earl Thomas III and Kam Chancellor is the best DB pairing in the game. These two make deep passes nearly impossible. Throwing in Thomas’ direction is ill-advised. He’s fantastic in Zone Coverage and has the Speed and Jumping ratings to negate any pass relatively close to him. Chancellor isn’t as fast or highly rated with catching, but his game-best 97 Hit Power means he can just level people.

This roster excels in Zone Coverage in general, which suits this roster’s strengths. Most of your key defensive players aren’t fast, but the DB’s size alone makes up for that. Sherman is ideal for interceptions. With Bobby Wagner in the middle and Michael Bennett up front, there’s no safe spot for the offense to target. You likely won’t need to blitz much. Just read the play and let the mistakes happen. 

Impact Players:

-Daniel Williams


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