It’s finally here. This week, football is back! Before we get to the real world though, we must finish what’s happening in the virtual one. If you missed the first two parts of the series, I would recommend going back and checking them out before continuing on, which you can do by clicking the labeled links below. For fun, I’m simulating the Atlanta Falcons’ 2020 season on Madden 21 to see what fun statistics and outcomes are made within the virtual world.
Without further ado, let’s get to Weeks 13-17.
First, I’d like to say I appreciate those of you who have followed along with this new series. Obviously, the results have been far from accurate in regards to what will likely happen in real life. Laquon Treadwell for example, who leads the team in receiving touchdowns on Madden 21, was released in real life as the team trimmed the roster to 53-players.
Just to briefly recap, the Falcons are currently (5-6) heading into Week 13, where they’ll face the New Orleans Saints. Matt Ryan is currently leading the NFL in both passing yards and touchdowns, something that is entirely possible in real life. Linebacker Deion Jones is also leading the NFL in tackles. We’ll see if they maintain those levels of production over the next couple games.
Week 13 — (6-5) Saints vs. (5-6) Falcons
The Saints are traveling to Atlanta to potentially get their revenge from Week 11 when the Falcons won 51-45 in a thriller. This week, the team would wear their throwbacks for the first time in 2020. The Falcons would get the ball first, which resulted in a Calvin Ridley 6-yard touchdown reception. After a Saints punt, the Falcons would score again, this time via a 20-yard catch by tight end Hayden Hurst. To end the first quarter, the Saints scored on a 23-yard catch by Tre’Quan Smith, narrowing their deficit to 14-7. A loss for the Falcons, cornerback Darqueze Dennard would leave the game with a hand injury. Ridley would score again in the second quarter, and the Falcons would head into halftime up 28-24 in a close one.
The second half would be tremendous for the Falcons. The third quarter saw a third Ridley touchdown, and Younghoe Koo put the Saints away in the fourth quarter with two field goals. The Falcons victory would make for a 2020 sweep of their biggest rival.
FINAL: Falcons 41, Saints 31
QB Ryan: 25/34 att, 287 yards, 4 TDs
RB Gurley: 24 carries, 94 yards, TD
WR Ridley: 5 receptions, 51 yards, 3 TDs
Injuries: CB Darqueze Dennard (Broken Thumb - 2 weeks)
Week 14 — (6-6) Falcons vs. (7-5) Chargers
The Falcons are now tied in second with the Saints, behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the top of the division. Every game is considered a must win, especially now. Like in real life, the Los Angeles Chargers would wear their royal color rush jerseys, which they’re slated to do against only the Falcons in 2020.
On the first drive, Falcons right tackle Kaleb McGary would leave with a shoulder injury, and have Matt Gono take his place. McGary did return later. Matt Ryan would connect with Calvin Ridley on a 65-yard touchdown to give the Falcons an early 7-0 lead. The Falcons would enter halftime with a 20-3 lead.
The Falcons would all but runaway with this one in the second half. Ridley would finish with his second straight game of having three touchdowns. The defense stepped up also, with cornerback Isaiah Oliver returning an interception for a touchdown. With a now 7-6 record, the Falcons have their eyes set on making the playoffs.
FINAL: Falcons 37, Chargers 25
QB Ryan: 20/32 att, 292 yards, 4 TDs, INT
RB Gurley: 18 carries, 70 yards
WR Ridley: 9 receptions, 150 yards, 3 TDs
Injuries: CB Darqueze Dennard (Broken Thumb - 1 week)
Week 15 — (8-4-1) Buccaneers vs. (7-6) Falcons
As they enter their final home game of the 2020 regular season, the Falcons have arguably the toughest road to the playoffs. Although still in the playoff hunt, the Falcons remaining two games are against the Buccaneers twice and a road game against the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. The Buccaneers would receive the ball first, but a huge Grady Jarrett sack, his eighth of the season, would force a punt. The Falcons would lean heavily on Todd Gurley, who would score two touchdowns in the first half. The Falcons would enter halftime up 28-10.
In the third quarter, the only scores were two Younghoe Koo field goals. In the fourth quarter, Brady would make a comeback on the Falcons, but this time, he fell short. The 21 unanswered points by the Buccaneers was not enough, and the Falcons won a close one 34-31.
FINAL: Falcons 34, Buccaneers 31
QB Ryan: 26/42 att, 407 yards, 3 TDs, INT
RB Gurley: 22 carries, 88 yards, TD, 2 receptions, 30 yards, TD
WR Jones: 9 receptions, 148 yards
Week 16 — (8-6) Falcons vs. (11-3) Chiefs
I have to say, I’m shocked. The way this simulation started off, I didn’t see the Falcons being within a half-game of leading the NFC South. They still have a tough road though, going to Kansas City and Tampa Bay. The Falcons would bring the heat early, as Takk McKinley sacked Patrick Mahomes on a third down forcing a punt. In a nail-biter, the Falcons and Chiefs would enter halftime tied 17-17.
After a touchdown and field goal by both teams, the two offensive powerhouses would enter overtime. The Falcons would luck out, receiving the ball first and march down field to score on a 3-yard touchdown by Hayden Hurst. The Falcons would shock the NFL world, defeating the Chiefs in Kansas City. They’re now (9-6) heading into a divisional showdown with the Buccaneers.
FINAL: Falcons 33, Chiefs 27
QB Ryan: 36/52 att, 421 yards, 4 TDs
RB Gurley: 20 carries, 45 yards
WR Jones: 8 receptions, 118 yards, TD
Week 17 — (9-6) Falcons vs. (9-5-1) Buccaneers
Well, it’s time. In an all too important game, the Falcons are headed south to Tampa Bay with a chance at winning the NFC South. Even with a loss, they may sneak into the playoffs with a Wild Card spot. It would be a shaky start for the visiting Falcons, as the Buccaneers took an early 20-7 lead heading into halftime.
Unfortunately for the Falcons, the lead would be too much for them to conquer. LeSean McCoy’s two rushing touchdowns was too much for the Falcons to overcome, and they fell 17-27. With a record of (9-7), we’ll see soon what this means for their playoff chances.
FINAL: Buccaneers 27, Falcons 17
QB Ryan: 33/53 att, 335 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs
RB Smith: 7 carries, 20 yards
WR Ridley: 9 receptions, 62 yards, TD
End of Part III (Weeks 13-17)
That concludes Part III of this series. If you were hoping for a Part IV, well, you’re in luck. The (9-7) Falcons are going to the playoffs! The first game is on the road against the (11-5) Green Bay Packers. In Part I of this series, the Falcons won on the road in Green Bay during their Week 4 matchup. Obviously, this being during wintertime will likely be more difficult.
Look for Part IV, the conclusion of this series, on Wednesday, Sept. 9th.
Team Leaders (Weeks 1-17)
QB Ryan: 430/684 att, 49 TDs, 16 INTs, 5471 yards
RB Gurley: 262 carries, 1095 yards, 11 TDs, 59 receptions, 785 yards, 5 TDs
WR Jones: 91 receptions, 1220 yards, 8 TDs
WR Ridley: 90 receptions, 998 yards, 9 TDs
TE Hurst: 74 receptions, 821 yards, 8 TDs
DT Jarrett: 10.0 sacks
MLB Jones: 130 tackles, 3 INTs
K Koo: 19/20 att, 55 long, 53/55 PAT
*If you have any specific questions, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them. Madden 21 is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows. Click here to get your own copy!