Only one new rule for next season will affect Madden NFL 17

Posted March 23rd, 2016 at 1:15 pm


Last year the NFL instituted a new rule that moved the extra point kicks back to the 15 yard line. It should have made the most boring waste-of-time play in Madden something more interesting and strategic. Unfortunately it wasn’t the case as kicking from that distance remained practically automatic in Madden NFL 16.

Throughout the NFL season the impact of the change proved significant. Extra points were successful 94% of the time down from 99% the season prior. 71 were missed in the 2015 season compared to only 8 in 2014. There were a record-breaking number of two-point attempts, as the math says going for it every time could be the better play or as coaches chased points lost by missed kicks. Even the AFC Championship was affected by a missed extra point.

For Madden NFL 17 one of the rules approved at the league owners meetings this week could affect the video game. Touchbacks will now be brought out to the 25 yard line instead of the 20. The same rule was put into place in college football in 2012. 

Kickoffs are also, for the most part, one of the most routine plays you’ll find in Madden. Due to poor blocking and the lack of true special teams units big returns are few and far between and kicks into the end zone are better off just downed.

In college the number of touchbacks rose with the rule change. When kicked into the end zone it’s far more likely to be downed and taken out to the 25. However, given the skill level of kickers in the NFL, it’s possible they’ll be looking to drop the ball within the 5 yard line now instead – unless there’s a particularly dangerous return threat back there waiting.

Madden really didn’t need another built-in advantage for the offense but starting at the 25 will make it easier to get into scoring range, and give those who frequently go for it on fourth downs more reason to do so. It’s possible players will start trying to drop kicks short of the end zone if they feel they can cover them well and stop them short of the 25.

Hopefully with another year of change we’ll finally see a development focus on special teams which has long been neglected in the Madden franchise. Not only does kicking have to become more challenging and return/coverage units better defined, but coaching decisions like surprise onside kicks and squib kicks need to return.