|TEAM NAME||CONSENSUS RANKING||WHERE THEY WENT||DIFFERENCE|
|Kansas City Chiefs||5th||12th||-7|
|Los Angeles Chargers||6th||20th||-14|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||10th||9th||1|
|Green Bay Packers||13th||1st||12|
|Los Angeles Rams||14th||19th||-5|
|San Francisco 49ers||15th||2nd||13|
|New England Patriots||22nd||21st||1|
|New York Jets||23rd||22nd||1|
|New Orleans Saints||29th||29th||0|
|New York Giants||32nd||31st||1|
TOP 5 STEALS IN ORDER: Philadelphia Eagles (Taint), Los Angeles Chargers (Ryan), Tennessee Titans (Niko), Arizona Cardinals (Steel), Baltimore Ravens (Morty)
TOP 5 REACHES IN ORDER: Seattle Seahawks (Cam), Houston Texans (Ptown), Minnesota Vikings (Cloud), San Francisco 49ers (Byron), Green Bay Packers (Cody)
TEAMS THAT WENT EXACTLY WHERE THEY SHOULD: Miami Dolphins (Lucky), Cleveland Browns (Chase), New Orleans Saints (Austin)
1) Super Bowl 25 - Dan (Jaguars) defeats Ocho (Bucs) in 2OT
As quiet as it’s kept, the first half of this game was some SLOPPY football by both sides. Ocho played just about the worst half on offense that I can remember from a Super Bowl user, and though Dan was able to do enough to secure a 3-point lead at halftime I remember thinking that if Dan was his usual self on offense he’d have been up by 17+. But oh my lord, what a second half and OT. Devonte Davidson saved the league from the ignominy of seeing Ocho’s name in the hall of champions with perhaps the greatest display of heart in BL history, and Dan clutched the fuck up to win the ‘ship. Big time users make big time plays, and Ocho was anything but.
2) Super Bowl 30 - Austin (Patriots) defeats (CMass)
For my money this was the highest-quality and most thrilling Super Bowl I can remember catching live (I didn’t see !ochoke until after the fact), and man oh man was that a tough way for Cmass to go out. You could see on their faces how locked-in both users were, and all it took was one slipup at the end to swing the game in Austin’s favor. I can still remember calling the game and having my heart sink to my stomach when Tua dropped back on that 3rd and 7. The Madden gods spoke to me in that moment and told me the play would end badly before he even threw the ball. Unfortunately TikTok hadn’t yet given Cmass a gamebreaking play to go to, so the INT was preordained.
3) Super Bowl 21 - Alex (Chargers) defeats Ocho (Bucs) in OT
LMFAOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO if !ochoke happened to me none of you would ever hear from me again. I’d delete Slack, sell my Xbox, and move to Siberia to live among the wolves. If that play happened to anyone else it would be known as some grade-A fuckery and an unfortunate way for a Super Bowl to be decided. But since it was Ocho… LMFAOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
4) Super Bowl 6 - ShawnG (Cowboys) defeats Phil (Bills) in OT
Yeah man, sometimes you gotta not outthink yourself and just feed your best player with the game on the line. Who knows how much of Shawn’s OT strategy came down to nerves, but I respect the hell out of him for just pounding the rock and going with his greatest strength in clutch time. No one ever brings it up, but Phil kicking a FG on 4th and 1 with 2 min left to go up 5 was one of those decisions that allowed Shawn to hang around when you coulda gone for the kill. Justifiable given how well his defense was playing, but with the benefit of hindsight… I know some other great champions like Austin and Dan try to end the game there. Phil played it safe.
5) Super Bowl 27 - Cody (Bengals) defeats Dan (Saints)
Just a quality game on both sides and a great way to kick off M21. This was pre-ability Burrow cooking up some succulent dots for the people, but the straw that stirred the drink for Cody’s offense was Joe Mixon’s 176 and 3 TD’s on the ground. Nothing super explosive, but it felt like every time Cody needed a third and short conversion or an easy 5-7 yards Mixon was able to provide. Of course, the play of the game was a CRUSHING hit stick by Vonn Bell to undo a 4th-down conversion and seal the game for Cincinnati. Bernard from the Bayou musta been siiiiiiick
6) Super Bowl 24 - Ben (Falcons) defeats Dan (Jaguars)
Unfortunately the commentary is marred a bit by my misguided attempt to call play-by-play on Cody’s stream (thank god for BLN) but what an electric game and performance outta Ben. Sometimes entire football games can come down to one or two plays, and I really think that the Beckham fumble and Dan’s failed 4th-down attempt singlehandedly swung the game in Ben’s favor. Cam Newton was not to be denied.
7) Super Bowl 13 – Morty (Patriots) defeats Justin (Saints)
A strange yet highly entertaining game. Justin kept stringing long sustained drives together but settled for field goals way too often, and Morty had a pretty awful game by his M18 standards but stayed in it with the benefit of occasional chunk plays. One of those games where if you looked at just the stats with no scoreline you would’ve assumed Justin won, but football is a strange sport sometimes. No better proof for that than Justin still having yet to win a ring despite John Madden himself descending from the heavens and holding his hand through the game half the damn time.
8) Super Bowl 34 – Hero Austin (Browns) defeats Little Alex (WFT)
Lotta buzz heading into this one! Two first-time Super Bowl appearances meant that we were guaranteed a new Better League Champion for the first time in five seasons, and this game delivered on all the hype. Ultimately I think Hero was able to find his identity on both sides of the ball quicker than anyone else this cycle, and his west coast offensive attack allowed him to weather any storm that came his way and grind the clock down, forcing his opponents into frustration and panic. Say what you will about the Browns roster but there’s no doubt in my mind that Hero was the best user in those playoffs.
9) Super Bowl 7 - Morty (Patriots) defeats Cloud (Vikings)
The people need Cloud facecams back! I think this is proof positive that Morty’s a big-game player, as he went up against the undefeated Vikings and responded with one of the great passing performances in BL Super Bowl history. In an Madden devoid of abilities Tom Brady was as effective of a Madden QB as there was that cycle, and Morty capitalized on his elite accuracy with succulent dot after succulent dot. Lowkey one of the bigger upsets in BL Super Bowl history.
10) Super Bowl 33 - Dan (Saints) defeats Austin (Patriots)
Just an immaculate way for Norman Fletcher to end his career after a cycle’s worth of mockery by Bernard from the Bayou and the Humble Host. While his path was certainly aided by Omaha, Dan’s ability to lock in for the entire game and get Fletcher to a 90% completion rate despite his opponent knowing how he likes to play is incredibly impressive. Some users bitched and moaned whenever they had to play Austin in, for example, conference championship games (not calling anyone specific out or anything) but Dan did what he does best and won on the biggest stage.
11) Super Bowl 29 - Connor (Browns) defeats Ben (49ers)
THE GREATEST GAME IN BETTER LEAGUE HISTORY IDC IDC
Just a wild day for me. I thought I would be a bucket of nerves heading into this one, but I felt weirdly very calm and confident pregame and never really got hit by the Super Bowl jitters I was expecting. I just kept telling myself that if I played the way I did against Austin in the AFCCG I would win, so there was nothing to be nervous about. Might’ve also been in a food coma with all that Shake Shack I had for lunch, idk. Got off to an explosive start and a quick 24-point lead, offense stagnated after that, but that’s why you pay the 97-speed defensive demons to fly around the field. My most memorable moment from postgame was when Cmass asked Ben how it felt to have the whole league against him during the game, which remains the most disrespectful question I can remember on BLN.
12) Super Bowl 5 - Cloud (Cardinals) defeats Morty (Patriots)
Cloud was just such a machine by the end of M17 man. The only man capable of posing a consistent threat to him at that point was Shawn, and once Chase knocked him out in the wild card round Cloud’s run to the Lombardi was practically preordained. This one was competitive (if a bit sloppy) all the way through, but Mariota was too mistake-prone and Cloud was able to ride a balanced offensive attack all the way to his first ring. Look out for those Titans in the playoffs this year! No one’s talking about Cloud but he’s been as impressive as anyone in the AFC.
13) Super Bowl 28 - Austin (Patriots) defeats Ben (49ers)
I have no real strong takes about this game, I just want you all to go to the 11-minute mark of this highlight video and tell me what in the fuck Ben was expecting with that 4th-down playcall. A motion swing pass thrown late while Coleman was practically on the sideline and a possession catch 3 yards away from the line of gain. Like… what’s the thought process there? He did the exact same playcall against me in the following Super Bowl and suffered the same result. Ben if you read this plz explain.
14) Super Bowl 3 – Alex (Bears) defeats Kook (Colts)
M17 Kook was a demon, and this game was closer for much longer than the final score would indicate. It really was a defensive battle in the first half, with a couple long chunk plays sprinkled among 3-and-outs, but a 66-yard Zach Miller TD heading into halftime gave Alex a 21-14 lead that he would never relinquish. The game was up for grabs until early in the 4th quarter when the Colts offense blinked with a couple turnovers and Alex was able to clinch his first Lombardi.
15) Super Bowl 12 - Phil (Broncos) defeats Alex (Bears)
What won this game for Phil ultimately was a combination of his god squad secondary and a very locked in defensive user performance making Trubisky’s life a living hell. It became very clear early on in the game that Phil had a bead on what Alex’s preferred route combos were, and though Alex was able to piecemeal a couple drives together it ultimately wasn’t enough. This is the first time I can remember being really surprised by a Super Bowl result. Alex had just ran through myself, Chase and Cody with ease and seemed to be the decisive favorite heading into the game. Alas, Phil was Alex’s father on this day and remains his father until proven otherwise.
16) Super Bowl 4 – Morty (Patriots) defeats NascarNerd (Saints)
Literally my only memory of NascarNerd is that he told me he liked my podcasts once, so I have no choice but to rank him among the all-time great men to grace this league. This is one of those old games where I wish a highlight video existed, cause this was a back-and-forth battle all the way through. SB4 started a stretch of thrilling Super Bowls that I would say didn’t end until SB9 when Phil handled Beard comfortably. Very few snoozefests in BL Super Bowl history!
17) Super Bowl 32 - Austin (Patriots) defeats CMass (Bears)
This game to me was less Cmass doing anything to throw the game away and more Austin proving that he was on his own tier of excellence at that point in the cycle (though Dan would have something to say about that the following season). Gator Great Matthew Davis was not to be denied, and the turning point of the game was when Cmass threw a horrible INT to Kyle Dugger down 10 on Austin’s goalline near the end of the 3rd quarter. With a TD there, it’s a one-possession game and you never know how things break out.
18) Super Bowl 22 - Dan (Jaguars) defeats Austin (Cardinals)
I can’t rate any Super Bowl too highly that ends in a disconnect, but this was a fun game with a lot of twists and turns despite the decisive final score. I’d like to direct your attention to the 2:20 mark of this highlight video where Dan gets a SUUUUUUUPER lucky break to tie the game up at 24. In other Maddens that’s a throw out of sack and possible pick-6. Instead, Austin got mossed and the Jaguars never looked back. One of the forgotten plays that changed the history of the league.
19) Super Bowl 8 – Austin (Eagles) defeats Kiing (Jaguars)
Couldn’t watch the game at the time, zero recollection of it, I just bring this up to give props to Kiing’s lockdown defense leading up to the Super Bowl. In the three playoff games before SB VIII he gave up 7 to Caiden’s Raiders, 7 to Phil’s Broncos and 14 to Morty’s Patriots. A very impressive playoff run that ran up against the GOAT’s first-ever Super Bowl birth. Tough matchup.
20) Super Bowl 9 - Phil (Broncos) defeats Beard (Giants)
Just absolute clamps by Phil’s secondary, which I still believe is the greatest pass defense ever assembled in the BL. Phil wasn’t particularly explosive in this game but he didn’t have to be, as Beard struggled mightily to get anything going until the game was effectively over. Not one of the more memorable Super Bowls we’ve had, but this game was a great example of Phil’s teambuilding skill coming through for him on the biggest stages.
21) Super Bowl 31 - Austin (Patriots) defeats Steel (Panthers)
Maaaaaaaan thank God for Saracco Moscato and Trulys. Cody and I mighta fallen asleep by halftime otherwise comming this snoozefest. Apparently watching this game back I was defending Steel and saying he was playing decently? That dessert wine must’ve had me fucked up. I’ll still remember this game most for Justin’s egregious comment that he would’ve made the Super Bowl if he played in the NFC, which might’ve been the worst take he’s ever given (and that’s a LONG list to choose from).
22) Super Bowl 23 - Cody (Giants) defeats Dan (Jaguars)
This game is most notable not for the gameplay itself, but for the fact that Cody was able to finally break through and win a ring after a long series of near-misses. Cody was a perennial contender as soon as he joined the league, but a combination of bad breaks and chokes on the big stages left him ringless until he finally threw the monkey off his back in decisive fashion against Dan. The game was a bit more competitive than the final score would indicate but make no mistake about it; Cody was the best user that day and that season.
23) Super Bowl 26 - Dan (Jaguars) defeats Ben (Bucs)
It’s hard to blame Ben for this result. After the great Ocho Scandal of M20 Ben took over and went on what was, given the situation, a pretty surprising run to the Super Bowl before ultimately losing out in a noncompetitive game to Dan’s Jacksonville dynasty. Ben woulda needed a bad performance out of Dan to stay in this one, but with the exception of one ill-advised deep shot early in the 2nd quarter Dan was locked in. Can’t expect anyone to take over a new roster and immediately win a Super Bowl with it.
24) Super Bowl 10 – Morty (Patriots) defeats Cody (49ers)
Still the most lopsided Super Bowl we’ve ever had. Cody had just gotten finished giving up 10 COMBINED points in three playoff games against Dwaters, Anthology and Austin before running into an absolute buzzsaw. I suspect the scoreline might’ve looked different if Cody hadn’t just played other playoff games right beforehand, but Morty was a machine and I’m not sure anyone would’ve beaten him in this SB. This game helped cement Morty as the greatest user of the first two cycles.
25) Super Bowl 1 – Cpot (Falcons) defeats Morty (Patriots)
It’s for the best that this game has been lost to the sands of time. Cpot was trash, this game was trash, and any time Morty loses a big game it gives me clinical depression. I can’t remember a single notable detail from this one and we’re all better off for it.
Boy, you talk about twisting the knife. Heading into the cycle I thought Austin would be a playoff contender, but I adamantly said in the pre-cycle pod that [redacted] would be the long-term power in that division and that the miserable state of the Patriots roster would keep Austin from reaching the league’s elite for most of the cycle. Egg on my face. I can’t ever remember a time where one user mentally owned damn near the entire rest of the league like this, as you could see time after time in the playoffs where Austin’s opponents would come out and make horrific decisions (both reads and game management) that they would never make against anyone else. It was almost Michael Jordanesque how people would crumble as soon as they saw that Patriots logo pop up. It’s a testament to how untouchable Austin was for most of the cycle, with Matthew Davis throwing succulent dot after succulent dot and Austin seemingly always figuring out how to stop his opponent’s plan A early in the game. With the amount of competition in here I didn’t think ANYONE would have a cycle this dominant. Respek.
I'm not sure there's much to say here. We all know Austin is going to be everyone's
He was the best player all cycle. No further explanation needed. He goes for round 2 with the Patriots again this cycle. I don’t anticipate the same type of success but expect him to be in the SB conversation all cycle long or as long as he’s locked in.
Austin is Jesus and unbeatable. Look for him to win 6 more rings this cycle.
Boy, you talk about a COLOSSAL leap in my rankings from the beginning of season 7 to the end. Dan woulda been in that Lucky-Kiing zone for me were it not for a Super Bowl run that came out of nowhere and a huge statement to the rest of the league to close the cycle. I’m not really sure what went wrong before that season… Dan always had impressive individual performances but seemingly couldn’t string it together for full seasons and in the playoffs (sounds like one of his M22 division mates!). Omaha helped for sure, but in general I just think Dan had a level of confidence and self-assurance in !season33 that he may have lacked in previous seasons, and Norman Fletcher cemented his name in the history books with a >90% completion rate against Austin in the Super Bowl. Is Dan Austin’s daddy? It’s tough to say.
A perennial contender within the AFC despite having one of the toughest rebuilding jobs of any contender within that conference (maybe THE toughest), Cody’s season 1 super bowl to me is the most impressive individual season anyone had all cycle given what he had to work with. The way Cody was able to continually adapt his scheme to the weapons he had was very impressive, and I went into every Browns-Bengals game knowing I’d have to play my best Madden to stand a chance. In a… let’s say… less than stacked M22 division, Cody should have a free shot at the playoffs every season next cycle, and with that godly Rams defense I give him just as good a shot as anyone to rack up rings out the gate.
Yea yea he’s overrated yea yea he’s all team blah blah blah. All he did was go to 4 consecutive NFC Championship Games and 2 Super Bowl Appearances with tough losses to a user who will be named a unanimous #1. Most consistent NFC user in the playoffs and also built arguably the best team in the league. Hard to argue that this wouldn’t be the highest rated NFC user except for the lack of hardware.
#2: Lil Alex
Pains me to put someone with 0 SBs at #2. But if Austin ever had an off day when they played I’d think he would’ve won at least 1. What a jump for young alex this cycle going from a fringe playoff guy to #2 on my list. That defense he built was nuts and his offense was very solid. When he got into the playoffs it seemed like he’d beat everyone but the future #1 on this list. Excited to see what he does with WFT next cycle. Glad he’s still in the opposite conference cause he stomped me twice.
#3: Lil Alex
This is going to be the first "hot take" and I could see a lot of people coming at my neck on this take. But for me personally, Little Alex could've appeared in 2-3 (if not more) Super Bowls had he been in the NFC. Maybe that's a weak excuse to put someone #3 but in my opinion he proved to have consistent regular season success picking up key wins against Austin throughout the cycle. He was also dominant in the playoffs every season until, like most of us, he ran into Austin. Little Alex week in and week out was beating "the leagues best" so I'm putting him at #3.
I think myself deserves the #2 spot. Unfortunately after season one for the most part the playoffs were a bit of a disappointment for me, but I don't think anyone would argue the majority of the cycle I was in command of my division. I had I think 1 or 2 #1 seeds and more often than not won my first playoff game. (Things just got hairy when I ran into Little Alex or Austin)
#3: Lil Alex
I had a ton of regular season success and made the afc championship 4 or 5 times out of 7 but ultimately couldn’t get past my daddy Austin. I believe i figured out and developed a new scheme both on offense and defense and it showed in my last game against Austin which was the closest I’ve ever played him. I’ll have more time to get comfortable with my scheme since we’re waiting till mid September to start the league, and I believe i have the gm skills and stick skills to win a Super Bowl this cycle. My defense also low key carried me at times but thankfully the WFT already has a pretty nasty defense to build on.
#2: Danny Big Cock
Dan started the cycle and ended the cycle hot by making and winning a bowl. He never had the most dominant team or the most abilities, but he proved he didn’t need them. If Dan had the gm skills of ben or cmass, he would easily be trading rings with austin every year. He’s taking the vikings who aren’t the best, but if anyone can dev that team and build through the draft, Its dan. Dan is another serious superbowl contender, especially if he finds a qb replacement for kirk.
That INT man… that fucking INT. One of the all-time great Super Bowls in our league’s history and that’s how it ends. Tuff. We knew Cmass was at the very least a solid user heading into M21, but the way he was able to both craft his team around his ideal playstyle and cement a strategy that very few users knew how to shut down defensively was very impressive. There’s a lot of buzz around the league that perhaps Cmass is a bit overrated heading into M22, but I disagree. You don’t make two super bowls and come as close to winning one as possible by accident, and he was absolutely the most consistent playoff threat of anyone in the NFC throughout the cycle. That division’s gonna be tough for him, and I’m really excited to see how the AFCN breaks out season-to-season. If Cmass ended up running that division I wouldn’t be surprised at all.
For me Connor comes in at #4. A lot of people didn't expect much out of Connor this cycle after his Madden break. He came in, built a great team, figured out his game plan and when he was dialed in he was incredibly difficult to beat. The proof is in the pudding as he was one of the few users to beat Austin in the playoffs. Oh ya, and he's got that bling bling on his finger.
Our s1 champion. Nothing proves your madden prowess more than being a S1 champ. Took a not so great bengals roster and did it the hard way. He drafted and developed his own. He dabbled with a couple deals but mostly kept the core bengals and drafted well. I’d have him higher on this list if he was able to overcome Austin or Little alex in the playoffs and make another SB. Looking forward to cody’s moves with a pretty solid Rams team next cycle in a weaker division.
I don’t think we can rank anyone without a SB over anyone who has. Frankly Connor accomplished more this cycle than 28 other users. His rise created quite the uproar in BL as the entire league cheered him on in his super bowl run. I don't know if Connor can repeat his championship run in M22 but he has proven he can compete day in and day out.
Cody started the cycle off HOT winning the s1 superbowl against dan in a close game. He consistently made the playoffs and competed, but he did see less success later in the cycle. He’s gotten criticism for taking the rams so high, but I believe he’ll be extremely dangerous with that defense and he’s immediately one of the superbowl favorites. If cody can draft a solid qb early on, he could easily become the next austin and run the league.
#5: Lil Alex
So yeah, if we’re going pure user skill on this/who had the most consistently elite cycle then Alex probably deserves to be higher. Couldn’t justify ranking him above someone who made the bowl twice and above three actual super bowl champions, it is what it is. Now that the BL Awards are set in stone I can admit that Alex was BY FAR the most improved user from M20 to M21, someone who proved they belong in the conversation of super bowl contenders every single season. Alex’s cycle goes to show what dedication to grinding Madden can do for you, as he was a mediocre user (I don’t think he’d mind me saying that) before M21 and made a gigantic leap in quality seemingly as soon as the M21 cycle started. Who knows, if he wasn’t such a mental midget against Daddy Austin maybe he’d be in the hall of champions! No reason why he couldn’t steal at least one against him in the playoffs other than accepting defeat before the game even started. If I see more of that same attitude in M22 I’ll throw up.
What a way to end the cycle. This man was a guaranteed vote for most dissapointing user for me up until S7. Him convincing Alex to switch off operation sports sliders saved his cycle and secured Fletcher for HOF. Dan was able to be a top offense and play very good defense all cycle. May have had more SBs with better breaks in the playoffs.
Our last super bowl winner comes in at #5. You could make the case that Connor should be 3, Dan 4 and Little Alex 5. You could also make the case that Dan should be 3, Connor 4, Cmass 5. (You could also make a lot of other cases) All that being said for me Dan comes in at 5 because of his mid-cycle playoff struggles and because if it weren't for a super bowl ring in #Season7 then many would make the case Dan would be somewhere between 6-10 I think. Lucky for Dan though he got hot when he needed to and came up with a big #Season7 super bowl win to put him at #5 for me.
#5: Lil Alex
Little Alex game speaks for himself. He could beat you through the air or pass and would have multiple SB appearances if he was in the NFC. I look forward to seeing if Nubes can continue to his trajectory and take the League over in M22.
Built one of the best teams in the league and was very solid throughout the year. If he didn’t trade Tua, i think he could have made at least 1 more Super Bowl run in s7. He will have Lamar for however long he wants him and I think he’ll end up with a terrifying offense. Cmass is a true Super Bowl contender and while he is in a tough division, i think by season 3 or 4 he will be consistently winning the division.
*insert Paul Rudd “Who would’ve thought” gif here*
Probably the biggest fluke of a Super Bowl run you’ll ever see in the BL but a ring is a ring! I had flashes of above-average passing throughout the cycle but was inconsistent in that department, what separated my M21 cycle from all previous was a combination of the filthy defense I was blessed with and a huge leap forward in my ability to stay calm mid-game and not let one bad decision completely change the way I play. The ironic part of my run is I don’t think I played all that well in three of the four games (I was a mess against Jesse, my offense was stagnant against Lil Alex and I was essentially gifted 24 points by Ben) but the AFCCG against Austin was probs the most locked in I’ve ever been in a playoff game and, given the cycle Austin put together, is a massive accomplishment. We’ll see if I can keep the momentum going in M22… I know I’ll have confidence in myself no matter who I play, which is more than I could’ve said a year ago.
Up next is Cmass: Cmass was one really bad interception, that I know he relives often, away from being at #3. Cmass proved to be the #1 NFC team to beat once we got into the meat of the cycle. Built a great team through a variety of different trades and built up a scheme that was tough to stop when he was locked in. Cmass had a great cycle and I'm excited to see if he can keep it going in 22.
Here is a guy that came out of nowhere. When he made that super bowl run, that was prime BL content. He was able to turn that run into a consistent playoff contender and solidified himself as a top user for M21. That secondary was an all timer and banyard will make the BLHOF. Look forward to seeing him attempt to continue his success into M22 even though it’s the Saints. FTS
Consistently battles for the division with dan and even made a superbowl run but fell short to Austin. He got better as the cycle went on but i think even steel can admit that defense was good enough to win him a few games. The steelers have a solid defense but nothing crazy so it’s gonna be interesting to see what he can do with a less than stellar defense at least at the beginning of the cycle. He has a lot of potential though and I believe he is a true contender for a Super Bowl.
This could be an NFC West bias, but Ben was very successful in the hardest division of M21 and probably the toughest division in BL history to date. Accomplishment wise, Ben and CMass were very close, but in my mind, I would take Ben in 7/10 games if they were to play a 10 game series. His GM skills also give him a slight advantage over Cmass as we clearly see with his newly created private channel.
For the first half of the cycle Ben put a strong case in to be the highest-ranked non-champ on my list, but with his regression in the final couple seasons combined with the rest of the division quickly catching up to him he slots in at #7 on my list. In my opinion, Ben firmly put the “all-team” moniker some had put on his name behind him with his run of two straight Super Bowl appearances this cycle. Yes, he had one of the better rosters in the league, but he didn’t have gunslinger and his defense, while solid, wouldn’t singlehandedly win games for him like mine often did. The Texans situation will put his abilities as a teambuilder and user to their greatest test yet, and I look forward to see what levels of success he can find starting off with such a talent deficit.
The next "NFC power house" is Ben coming in at 7. Ben had an interesting cycle but he did make a super bowl. Ben was in the toughest division of the cycle and more often than not showed it was "his" division. He did fall apart a bit as the cycle started to wind down which lands him at #7 on my list.
He would consider this cycle a failure. He did make 2 SB (should have been 3 if he could make an ice FG) appearances that were disappointing results. Ben was able to win what was one of toughest divisions on a regular basis. His offense was effective and his defense was solid. All around a solid performance for this cycle but it seemed good users caught on to Ben’s tendencies towards the end and were able to defeat him more often than not. Interesting what he does this next cycle with the worst roster in the league
Won a ring, but was wildly inconsistent throughout the cycle. If he didn’t get that ring, i think he’d be closer to 10 or 11 but i have to give him respect. He heavily relied on the run with banyard so I’m interested to see if he can find any success without him.
Cmass had a lot of success in M21 but there is some reason to pause. Season 1 did not make the playoffs, and the last season he lost in the first round. The correlation? He did not have gunslinger. Although he has proven he is a very good user, he has not shown that he can win without a certain ability. I also feel that the users above him either accomplished more in M21 or slightly gained more respect as a user.
Steel’s divisional rivalry with Dan was the most fascinating two-man race in the league over the course of the entire cycle, and though he never won a Super Bowl he was one of the most feared users in the NFC through the entirety of M21. There was a baffling degree of inconsistency both season-to-season (missed playoffs 3x, had one or two strange losses almost every season), but I have to give him his respect for competing with DBC from season 1 onward and looking truly elite during his Super Bowl run before he ran into a near-unstoppable force in Austin. That AFCN’s gonna be fascinating next cycle… I have no idea who’s gonna win it year-to-year, but what I do know is I’d give Steel just as much of a shot as anyone.
Another user with a very interesting cycle for my #8 is Steel. Steel missed the playoffs 1 season (maybe 2) and a lot of people wrote him off. He turned it around, made some moves, locked in game play wise and ended up making a super bowl as well. Steel showed he could beat Dan which created a nice rivalry. Unfortunately, Steel more often than not struggled in the playoffs which puts him at #8 for me.
This man had some ups and downs but those Ups were very impressive. When that defense was playing lock down no offense was moving the ball. Steel played inconsistently throughout the cycle on offense but when he played a smart brand of run first and a underneath passing game he was in the Super Bowl. Look forward to seeing him improve next cycle with his hometown Steelers.
Steel made some questionable GM moves early in the cycle in my opinion, but once he got the roster he wanted he was dangerous. We all saw just how dangerous when he made a superbowl. Never a great offensive user, but his defense made up for it. What also shows his talent level is how he played competitively with one of the best users of BL history (Dan) all season.
Lucky started the year off the year off weak, but I think he was the most improved user from the start of the cycle to the end. His growth from being fourth in the division year one to the NFC championship the final season is enough to put him in the top 10 to close the cycle. He could compete with anyone on any given day and when he consistently started to put out clean performances, he was a force to be feared.
Started the cycle off hot, but became soft near s7. I still believe he is a superbowl contender but his gm skills will be put to the test after he received the Texans in the draft. Im excited to see what ge can do with that putrid roster.
One of only six users to make the playoffs every season in 21, Kiing was a consistent force in the NFC. While only winning the division once (usually coming in second place behind Ben), you always knew he could make serious noise in the playoffs. With human joystick on Cam Akers his run game was near unstoppable, winning three MVPs in his six seasons with the running back.
Kiing is one of the more consistent users in BL if you ask me. He's yet to get over the hump now for a few cycles now, but year in and year out you know Kiing is going to be in the playoffs. AND if you sleep on him he will give you a run for your money. I think if Kiing can get better in the passing game, then he could have a shot at making a super bowl 22.
Putting a joystick HB into the hands of a man with Kiing’s stick skills? Sheeeeeesh. I see Lucky and Kiing as two sides of the same coin, where both of them are elite (and I don’t use that word lightly) at the running game and defensive usering, but a tendency to shoot themselves in the foot in the passing game keeps them simply quite good as opposed to among the league’s best as overall users. Kiing is the best runner across all cycles in BL history bar none, and if M22 caters to a run-first offensive approach I truly believe Kiing can give Austin some scares and be competitive even with a questionable Jets roster. We saw him be a consistent playoff user (and at times borderline dominant) within the best division in the league last year, so I’m sure he sees this AFCE as a welcome respite despite having to play the GOAT twice a season. With a blank slate heading into M22, count Kiing out at your own risk.
I’ll try to get over the waves of sexual tension I’m feeling rn and type this out. Given the division Lucky had to overcome every season and the very real chance of a Super Bowl run he had in season 7 that got undone by some Cam Rich fuckery, I believe Lucky was the most slept-on user in the entire NFC last season. The speed of Rashaud Arnette and Steven Cooper helped, but Lucky was a demon when he brought a west coast offensive mentality into his games. With the exception of what Austin was able to build in New England (fuck the TC for letting that shit fly), Cooper is the closest LB we’ve seen in the Better League to the prime Chase Vander Esch days in M19. Unfortunately Lucky finds himself in another tough division for M22, but I truly believe he has some of the highest untapped potential of anyone in this league and has a Super Bowl run in him.
Last but not least is Lucky. I think it would be ABSOLUTELY disrespectful to Lucky to not put him in the top 10. Like it's been mentioned before Lucky was written off when the M21 teams/divisions were released. Most thought he was the clear 4th place team and would never make the playoffs. Fast forward and he has multiple playoff appearances as well as a NFC Championship game appearance. Sure it was #Season7 but credit should be given where it's due. Lucky had a very impressive cycle competing against the leagues best week in and week out, so he deserves to be in the top 10.
Always starts slow but shows his true potential later in the cycle. Made a cinderella run as the 7 seed knocking out the 1 and 2 seeds but ultimately fell to dan in the nfc championship. If lucky can just be more consistent in the passing game, he could 100% move up this list
#10: Hero Austin
Very good defensive user who built a solid team off some good trades. Won some tough regular season games against top comp but fizzled in playoffs.
#10: Hero Austin
At the start of 21 there were a lot questions about who would win that NFC East, and Austin proved emphatically that he was the dominant force in that group. With a powerful running game and a solid defense, he gave the league’s best some trouble throughout the year. Obviously he never had the type of playoff success he would’ve hoped for, but I do think there’s a lot to be optimistic about from his corner as we transition to 22.
A little content morsel for the people before we feast on Tuesday with the Dan and Austin-led lottery (12 EST) and the team reveal show with Cmass, Cody and me (8 EST). With the new equalized odds created by Alex and Dan, the potential for chaos in the lotto has never been higher. It’s a new blank slate for the Better League, and with all 32 lists officially locked in I’m proud to present the M22 team list analytics article!
HIGHEST AVERAGE PLACEMENT
#1: Arizona Cardinals (7.43)
#2: Baltimore Ravens (8.39)
#3: Kansas City Chiefs (8.78)
#4: Cleveland Browns (9.91)
#5: Jacksonville Jaguars (10.66)
I’ll save my takes on the specific rosters for the team reveal show, but what a jump for the Jaguars! The second-lowest placed team in the M21 team selection process catapulted all the way to #5 on the back of a rookie QB with guaranteed SS dev (at least) and a roster facelift on both sides of the ball schemed up by Gator Great Urban Meyer. Cam saw the vision.
LOWEST AVERAGE PLACEMENT
#28: New England Patriots (21.03)
#29: Pittsburgh Steelers (21.39)
#30: New Orleans Saints (22.42)
#31: Detroit Lions (24.87)
#32: Houston Texans (28.19)
No, that’s not a typo. Y’all thought the league was low on the Jets last cycle? The Texans shattered the record for the lowest the Better League has ever been on a team, and with Deshaun Watson’s status still up in the air and the complete lack of long-term pieces on that roster it’s easy to see why. The Saints being on here surprises me a little… I feel like we as a league have gotten good enough at managing cap space that the horrific position the Saints are in irl shouldn’t be TOO much of a factor. Stay away Ryan!
HIGHEST DEVIATION AKA MOST DISAGREED-UPON TEAMS
#1: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9.69)
#2: Dallas Cowboys (9.41)
#3: San Francisco 49ers (9.38)
#4: Washington Football Team (8.92)
#5: Green Bay Packers (8.87)
I don’t have much to say about these specific teams, but I will say as a general point that there was more disagreement among lists heading into this cycle than there was heading into last cycle. For me, that’s exciting cause it means the lottery and team selections can go in more different directions. FTP
#28: Indianapolis Colts (6.76)
#29: Arizona Cardinals (6.63)
#30: Baltimore Ravens (6.62)
#31: Los Angeles Chargers (6.54)
#32: Houston Texans (6.29)
The whole league is high on the Ravens and Cardinals, thinks the Chargers and Colts are mid, and thinks the Texans are a flaming dumpster fire. I agree on all counts!
All TEAMS WITH MULTIPLE #1 PLACEMENTS
Chargers, Chiefs, Buccaneers (3)
Jaguars, Cardinals, Broncos, Rams, Patriots, WFT, Cowboys (2)
ALL TEAMS WITH MULTIPLE #32 PLACEMENTS
Texans (13) (LMAO)
Bengals, Saints (2)
RANDOM FUN FACTS
-The Bears win this cycle’s award for Most Mid Team with an average placement of exactly 16. The league quite literally couldn’t be more neutral towards Chicago. I… can’t say I disagree.
-The most up-for-grabs team is the Colts, as they were in only one user’s top 5 and one user’s bottom 5. They’ll probably go mid-lottery, and anyone could end up with them.
-I’m not usually the one to ask for support on the BLN streams, but if you’ve made it this far make sure to go crazy for the lotto and team reveal shows tomorrow! Dan’s putting a tremendous amount of time and effort into the lottery, and Cmass Cody and I are all putting in work behind the scenes as you read this to make sure the team reveal is the best it can possibly be. The official start to the M22 cycle is upon us! Let’s start off with a bang! (connor moan)
R1P6: WR Kasen Ali, Texas A&M (75 OVR, 23 yrs old) Grade: A-
Can’t argue with 97 speed baby! Though Ali is definitely a bit raw when it comes to the more technical aspects of the WR position (route running, awareness), he instantly provides the Browns offense a true deep threat at the WR2 position and will be a lethal second option behind OBJ. Do I dare say it? Push your safeties back… deeper…
R1P25: DT Shaquille Laws, USC (75 OVR, 21 yrs old) Grade: A
When you make a pick and immediately hear multiple people in your draft party groan in dismay (not with pleasure like a certain Cmass soundboard clip), you know you’ve struck gold. I have no clue how Laws fell to the 25th pick, but with 94 strength and decent block shedding stats he will be an instant starter on a D-line that hopes to rack up sacks on the outside and clog up interior running lanes. The age helps as well, as even with a normal dev trait Laws will be able to be developed for multiple seasons into a truly elite weapon.
R2P7: RB Nathan Richards, Iowa (74 OVR, 22 yrs old) Grade: B+
The good news: Star dev and very solid ball carrier and juke/spin stats give Richards a very strong base to work from as a rookie. The bad news: He’s only 89 speed, and until we get a couple speed upgrades (not hard to do apparently) his big-play ability will be severely limited and he will only be used as a situational runner. For where I got him I’m happy, but there’s a reason he dropped to me and at best he looks to be a backup behind Christopher Banyard.
R2P19: CB David Toler, TCU (68 OVR, 22 yrs old) Grade: C
This was a bit of a panic pick. It is what it is. The good thing is this secondary needed depth (drops off HARD after Ward/Greedy), but with well below-average coverage stats Toler is a prospect at best and will only be used in emergencies. He has the speed to keep up with most slot receivers, but any WR with decent route running’s gonna burn him.
R4P8: QB George Foreham, Utah (64 OVR, 22 yrs old) Grade: B-
To be completely honest, I could have done way worse. 92 THP already, his accuracy stats aren’t THAT bad, and I have faith in him to provide about 80% of what Matthew Stafford provides in case Stafford goes down. The fact is after Zach Bean no other QB’s in the draft class were viable as year-1 starters, but Foreham isn’t the worst out there by any stretch. For a round 4 pick, I’ll take it.
R4P19: LE Addison Lane, Purdue (69 OVR, 23 yrs old) Grade: B+
This draft was deeeeeeeeeep with edge rushers, and Addison Lane is another one of those solid players who probably shouldn’t have fallen to the mid-4th round. You don’t expect to get instant starters in the 4th round and Lane definitely isn’t one, but as a rotational piece he’s definitely not bad. With solid strength and power moves, he can look to get spot touches if one of Garrett or Von Miller go down (please god no). We needed the depth at the end of the day.
R5P19: LE Mike Durant, USC (67 OVR, 21 yrs old) Grade: B
Again, I cannot stress this enough: WE NEEDED THE DEPTH. Lane and Durant are damn near the same player (very similar FMV and PMV) but Lane wins out slightly on strength. Two unimpressive but potentially important picks depending on potential injury, but you’ll take unimpressive and potentially important in the 4th and 5th rounds.
R6P19: ROLB James Wilburn, Buffalo (66 OVR, 22 yrs old) Grade: C+
For having as solid an overall as he does (by 6th round standards) his coverage stats are ATROCIOUS and that’s mostly what we would use him for in Cleveland. This is the only player in the draft that I would say let me down when I took a deeper dive into his specific stats and attributes. Wilburn did not live up to the sleeper LB picks of the previous draft and will likely not see any meaningful playing time this season.
R7P19: DT Emmett Hicks, NC State (65 OVR, 24 yrs old) Grade: B
In a round littered with sub-60 OVR’s. Hicks was a welcome sight as a DT who won’t be a complete liability if he ever sees the field. Will he ever be anything more than a rotational piece? No. Is he a complete bum? Also no. Will you gladly take that with a mid-7th round pick? 100% of the time.
Overall grade: B+
We filled some holes today (OH DADDY) and completely changed the dynamic of our passing offense with the addition of Ali. The only thing I would do if I could run the draft back is to take one fewer d-line player and replace him with a depth OL piece (ideally swap out Mike Durant for now-Chief Troy Holloway) but for a draft that involved a lot of moving parts I’m extremely happy with how it went. It wasn’t a Payne-level GM performance, but for the Sanders family it turned out pretty well.
I fucked around and created some #content for the people on this fine Sunday evening. Now that the playoff slates for both conferences are fully set (not the seeding per se, but the users themselves) I decided to rank all 14 of them by how likely I think it is that each user will win the Super Bowl. Unlike all of my other rankings this is NOT in a vacuum; prior success and current form both play a part in these rankings. Subscribe to twitch.tv/betterleaguenetwork
I will give Wohzi sincere credit and say that while I knew he would eventually have his playoff contending season (one per cycle, like clockwork), I genuinely didn’t think it would be this season, especially against a schedule that featured the AFC East and two games against Dan and Steel. Quality wins litter the schedule, most notably week 15 v. Carolina and back-to-back wins over LAC and NE earlier in the season. With all of that being said, Baker Mayfield still averages almost 3 INT per game and I don’t trust Wohzi to find the passing efficiency he needs in a series of games that would likely include both Ben and Dan. If current seeding holds Wohzi will play Dan in the 6/3 matchup, and it’s overwhelmingly likely that his playoff aspirations would end right there.
While I’ve only been blown out once all season (Alex is my daddy) and have jumped out to early leads against Austin, Cody, Cmass and others, maintaining offensive explosiveness through entire games continues to be an issue and I lack the ability to flip another gear/bring out the ebooks come playoff time that so many elite BL users possess. Despite my ability to keep it close against plenty of elite users my most impressive win all season was against either Jesse or Fern depending on who you ask, and I don’t see a scenario where I suddenly turn these close losses into wins against four superior users in a row. I’m just glad to be here at the end of the day.
Wayyyyy too inconsistent this season, and though a recent win over NYG gives him decent momentum come playoff time I think, much like Morty would probably say, that it’s a tough ask for him to be able to string together four quality wins (especially if he ends up facing Alex). While there’s no chance in hell Wohzi or myself wins the bowl I do think Morty has a non-zero chance (!history), but it would take a LOT and the Raiders have generally struggled against playoff-quality competition so far this cycle. There is something to be said about having been here before, and Morty’s four championship rings don’t lie, but I think the AFC’s just too stacked this season. Push your safeties back… deeper… deeper…
If you had me write this article after our week 11 game I might’ve had Cmass in the top 5, but recent form has been brutal and I struggle to see how a defense that just gave up 46, 41 and 51 to Fern, Jesse and Kiing respectively will suddenly clamp up explosive offenses like SF and NOLA come playoff time. Coach O’Connor insisting on playing his starters in a meaningless week 17 game vs. CIN also bothers me, as we’ve seen Better League precedent that playing starters in meaningless games can come back to bite you (hi Shawn). I would love to be proven wrong, my BLN brethren winning a bowl would be amazing to watch and great for the league, but I don’t see it happening this season.
#10: Hero Austin
I remain confused by how much of Austin’s inflated regular season records comes down to user skill and how much of it comes down to cake schedules against users who don’t know how to adjust defensively to his ultra-conservative approach (ignore our score from last season). We’ve seen the eye-opening wins for sure, wins over the Saints and Chiefs have built buzz around New York, but I’m still shook by last season’s wild card round and am having trouble seeing how Austin goes from that to running the table in the playoffs. Austin had the single most disappointing performance of anyone in the playoffs last season, losing the 1 seed to Taint week 17 and blowing it against what was on paper a far inferior Rams team. I certainly think Austin has a path to the bowl, Saquon is fearsome on his worst day and they’ve proven themselves in certain out-of-division matchups… but will it translate to the playoffs this time? It certainly didn’t last season.
Doesn’t it kinda feel like the league has figured Justin out? The rushing numbers remain gaudy and I could see a situation where other users self-destruct against Jonathan Taylor and co. but I think of any user in these playoffs Justin has the biggest dropoff offensively when his plan A is shut down. With that being said it’s a hell of a plan A; Taylor averages 6 YPC and no one other than Lucky’s Seahawks have truly shut him down in a game yet. I think anyone else in the AFC could feasibly go down 17 in the first half and make up that deficit in the 2nd half. Can Justin? I have my doubts.
As was expected heading into the season, Kiing has gone extremely pass-heavy en route to a 58-TD season from rookie QB Levi Cason and has been generally unimpressive on the ground… wait, are we sure this isn’t an Ocho/HHH situation? Kiing’s 44 PPG leads the league offensively, and I remain very impressed by his upset win over Hero Austin and taking Dan to the wire last playoffs, but something tells me that Kiing would have had a better shot of competing with last season’s blend of Cam Akers and an elite run defense than this borderline air raid offense he’s currently rolling with. Is it weird that I actually consider Kiing to be a slight favorite heading into his likely 2/7 matchup with Hero Austin? Maybe I’m reading too much into one matchup, but if Kiing manages to beat him in the WC round for the second season in a row the toxicity in chat will be unparalleled.
Assuming Steel doesn’t have to take an hour mid-game to rescue a cat from a one-foot ledge I very much look forward to calling his games on BLN, as his steadfast refusal to run with arguably the best RB in the game and ability to muddy games up and keep them close against the league’s elite is fun to watch. Will he actually be able to do anything in the playoffs? It’s hard to say. Of all users I had the most trouble ranking Steel, as the eye test (suspect) runs contrary to his results both last season and this season (quite strong). Steel’s top-3 defense tends to carry the day in Carolina, especially in back-to-back wins over Dan and Austin early in the season, and there’s no denying that Steel has had statement wins against the league’s elite despite his performances not always being the prettiest. I think Steel is kind of in his own tier within this list: clearly more capable of stringing strong results together than Kiing and everyone below him, but not quite in that top-6 either. Look for Steel to, at the very least, keep it close against whoever he plays.
#6: Young Alex
I thought young Alex was the most underrated user of the season last season and remain convinced he’s being slept on heading into these playoffs, but a looming wild card matchup against the Chiefs doesn’t bode particularly well and I don’t like his tendency to lose himself mentally when he goes down in a game. We’ve seen recent games suggest that there may still be a slight gap between proven champions like Cody and Austin and himself, but I believe his run to the AFCCG last season was no fluke and he’s truly as dangerous as anyone come playoff time. His four losses are against Dan, Austin and Co