|Every year, Americans bet more than $8.2 billion on the Super Bowl. Though many gamblers are able to win small fortunes by studying the two teams, there’s one expert whose analysis is eerily accurate, and it’s not even human.
Each year, EA Sports puts out a little football video game called Madden, and each year, it simulates the Super Bowl match up. It’s historically been accurate, predicting 9-3 winners, but this past year its precision was almost downright creepy. The simulation not only predicted that the New England Patriots would beat the Seattle Seahawks 28 to 24, but also foresaw several other events that only a psychic could have seen coming.
Some of the simulation’s predictions weren’t very surprising. It said that Seattle Seahawks star Marshawn Lynch and New England Patriots star Rob Gronkowski would each score touchdowns, which they both did.
Madden also predicted that the score at halftime would be 17 to 14, which was close to the actual game’s halftime score of 14 to 14.
This is where things get a little creepy. Madden not only predicted that the Patriots overcome a 24 to 14 deficit for a win, but that Tom Brady would throw 335 yards, leading to four touchdowns, which was only seven yards off of what actually happened.
Even stranger, it predicted that Tom Brady would pass to Julian Edelman for the game-winning touchdown. Before the 2014-2015 season, Edelmen had only scored 10 other touchdowns since the Patriots had drafted him in 2009.
“Scientifically speaking, most (but not all) people are pretty predictable, and the same is true for sport players. Algorithms can be used to re-create human likeness and likelihood through computation of all of the predictable behaviors that make us a living, behavioral thing,” said Tom Ajello, co-founder of Makeable. “This happens by looking at behaviors and combining all of them into en entity, then running those individual behaviors and likelihoods against/with other team members and then again against other teams. The creators of the game add those behaviors into the algorithms that ultimately drive the engine behind the playing experience. This is done to obviously make the game as realistic as possible. But other outcomes are by-products of this math. Such as what we see here.”
Though Madden’s Super Bowl XLIX prediction was its most accurate one ever, there will always be a bit of caprice wherever humans are involved. No one — not even the Madden simulation — could predict Malcolm Butler becoming the unlikely hero at the end of the game.