Although this year’s manifestation of the classic Madden franchise has not met with universal approval (including from ourselves), we can be honest, even “bad” Madden is still pretty good, and the on-field gameplay remains far in advance of any gridiron game out there. For players who prefer to keep it in Franchise mode and stay as close to reality as possible, Madden NFL 21 is a more than adequate continuation of a more than 30-year long timeline.
If, indeed, you are sticking to Franchise Mode, it is worth considering a few points. Should you pick up the newly-available Colin Kaepernick as a free agent to bolster your QB options? The answer may be yes, as he carries a player rating of 81, which is better than some active players. Does the Wild Card rule change affect playability? Not noticeably, although it makes every game worth winning even late in the season so that you can secure the #1 ranking in your conference.
The question we’re really interested in for now, though, is which team you should pick if you’re looking to make the most of Franchise play. You could plump for Kansas City, but that seems like a coward’s choice given that they’re Super Bowl champions and have Patrick Mahomes. You could pick New England, but they’re just so easy to hate even without Tom Brady (and now they’re not very good). So let’s look at some of the other contenders, and why they might be worth controlling for a few seasons.
So Miami are probably still (at least) a couple of seasons off being a top contender, but there are plenty of reasons to pick them right now – after all, that’s the point of Franchise play. They’ve picked up a rookie quarterback with a chance to be one of the best in the league in Tua Tagovailoa. Their pass rush is impressive thanks to a solid free agency period and draft.
Not only that; after this season, they have another two first-round picks, one coming via the Houston Texans who are currently looking good for a top-ten draft position thanks to their abysmal start to the season. That will allow budding GMs to add the skill players the club needs to become a genuine threat in seasons to come. We’d recommend using at least one of them to add a running back; the Fins have about four, but none of them are great.
New York Jets
Speaking of high draft picks, you could do a lot worse than play as the Jets. For one thing, it’s going to be hard to be as atrocious as the real thing, which started the current season 0-5 and then cut the franchise’s single offensive playmaker, RB LeVeon Bell. Slide into Adam Gase’s role and you’ll be well-positioned to add talent in the draft, because you’re liable to have one of the worst records in the league.
The better news is that you won’t get fired even if you’re really bad; it’s generally expected that you will be. Prepare for a bruising defeat in the Week 3 Jets vs Colts clash and remember that things can only get better. If you’re having trouble believing that, just look at the real life Jets as they learn new ways to lose lop-sided games in this league.
Green Bay Packers
It’s not going to be fun having to play against Tom Brady and his new club twice a season, but there are ways of making it more fun. First of all, you start with one of the league’s greatest quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers, an evergreen gunslinger who is blessed with a solid group of receivers including Davante Adams.
Secondly, the Packers’ front office have done their succession-planning well and have already picked up the man who will fill Rodgers’ shoes when he steps off the field. Jordan Love will be a fun player to control – and don’t worry, Brady has to retire at some point. Probably.
Perhaps the least fashionable team in the league – they’ve been at best mediocre for most of this century, and they wear brown and orange. Why would you want to play as Cleveland? Well, there’s the challenge for a start – they’re in the same division as Pittsburgh and Baltimore – and AFC North cellar-dwellers Cincinnati have just added #1 draft pick Joe Burrow, so they’ll offer a test, too.
Better yet, as Cleveland’s GM/Head Coach, you have the chance to manage an offense that features Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr., Kareem Hunt, Jarvis Landry and David Njoku. That’s talent at every offensive skill position, and your defensive front is pretty much ready to plug and play, too. There’s a team with real potential here, and why shouldn’t you be the mind to bring it all together as a winning ball club?
Los Angeles Rams
Last time they played in a Super Bowl, they scored three points and the half-time show was Maroon 5, so pretty grim all around. However, the Rams have plenty going for them as a team in Madden 21. They have a serviceable QB in Jared Goff, an excellent wide receiver for him to target in Robert Woods, and they have one of the meanest defenses in the league. If you take advantage of the practice feature of the game, you’ll be well-primed to shut other teams down.
The Rams don’t just have one of the standout defensive tackles in the league. In Aaron Donald, they have one of the best players on any team, a richly-talented anchor for a destructive, smothering defense. It’s fair to say you might need to add some offensive weapons, but if you can score with any consistency you should win most games, as your opposition will be hard-pushed to get on the board at all.
Of course, you’ll likely have your own ideas for which teams you want to control. There are 32 to choose from and you probably have a favourite. But if you want to change things up a little from time to time, the five named above are worth a look.