Earlier this month, video game publisher EA Sports released a set of preliminary ratings for the upcoming “Madden NFL 19.” The release led to emotional reactions and debates on television, radio and across the web over many decisions and, most prominently, whether Aaron Rodgers should have been rated higher than Tom Brady.
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That debate, in particular, has been nullified because of updated ratings that have been released ahead of the game’s early-August release. Seven players will begin “Madden NFL 19” with the highly coveted 99 Overall rating, up from the three previously reported and the two who finished with a 99 at the conclusion of last season in “Madden NFL 18.”
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
The reigning NFL MVP has recaptured the 99 rating. He also began “Madden NFL 18” at 99 but slipped to as low as 97 before moving back up to 98 during the playoffs.
Individual categories in which Brady is rated 99 include Throw Accuracy, Play Action, Awareness and Stamina. Those are unchanged from last year. Throw Under Pressure, a new ratings category that is being introduced in “Madden 19,” comes in at 96. His Catch Rating, which fell from 45 following his crucial drop in the Super Bowl, has been bumped up from 38 to 39.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
Rodgers played in just seven games last season because of injuries and wasn’t rated a 99 at any point last year, but he has been moved up to 99 Overall for “Madden NFL 19.”
He’s rated as more athletic than Brady, with 97 Throw on the Run and 79 Speed. Rodgers also features great accuracy numbers and the same 96 as Brady in Throw Under Pressure.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots
As one of just two players to keep the 99 rating with which they finished in “Madden NFL 18,” Gronkowski is a uniquely dynamic receiving threat. He has 97 Catch in Traffic, 95 Catching, 94 Spectacular Catch, 94 Release, 97 Stiff Arm and 86 Trucking ratings.
An injury rating of 77, one of the lowest in the league among starting-caliber players, wasn’t enough to drag his Overall down. That number is even lower than that of Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, who is no longer a 99 presumably because of his inability to stay on the field.
Aaron Donald, DT, Rams
The 2017 NFL Defensive Player of the Year also finished “Madden NFL 18” at 99 Overall. Donald delivers a 99 in Play Recognition, a 98 Power Move and 97 Strength. Those represent increases of four points in Play Recognition and two points in Strength, respectively, from last season.
Von Miller, LB, Broncos
Miller began “Madden NFL 18” at 99 but lost a point late in the season. He has recaptured that 99 thanks in part to one-point increases in Finesse Moves (to 95) and Agility (to 90).
Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers
Brown flirted with 99 Overall last season but was never able to reach it. He began the year at 97 and peaked at 98. The Falcons’ Julio Jones was the highest-rated wide receiver for most of the season.
His 99 in Catching, Catch in Traffic and Ball Carrier Vision, along with 98 Agility, 97 Elusiveness and a 97 Juke Move, remain the same from “Madden NFL 18.”
Luke Kuechly, LB, Panthers
The most surprising inclusion into the 99 Club is Kuechly, who finished last season rated 97 Overall. Concern over concussions and offseason shoulder surgery apparently were not factors.
Kuechly’s 99 ratings include Awareness, Toughness, Play Recognition and Stamina. He also has 98 Tackle, 97 Pursuit and 90 Block Shedding ratings. There were a lot of bumps up: plus-2 each for Awareness, Play Recognition, Tackle and Block Shedding.
Additional player ratings will be distributed in July. Players who can be expected to be knocking on the door of a 99 Overall include Jones, Watt, Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner and Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack.
“Madden NFL 19” will release Aug. 7 for those buying the $80 Hall of Fame Edition, which features Terrell Owens on the cover. The standard $60 edition will follow Aug. 10. Besides PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the game will also be releasing on PC for the first time since 2007.
Bryan Wiedey posts sports gaming news and analysis daily at Pastapadre.com, is co-founder of the sports gaming site HitThePass.com, hosts the “Press Row Podcast” and can be reached on Twitter @Pastapadre.