49ERS-PACKERS

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) throws a touchdown pass to Davante Adams during the first half of Sunday's NFL game at Lambeau Field. 

Each summer, Electronic Arts sets off passionate online debate when it releases the player ratings for the upcoming edition in its popular “Madden NFL” video game series.

Fans, and often the athletes themselves, argue over the collection of data points that make up the virtual representation of each NFL player.

The newest ratings, unveiled Monday afternoon ahead of the Aug. 2 release of “Madden NFL 20,” were surprisingly kind to the Green Bay Packers.

Even coming off a six-win season that saw the team’s Super Bowl-winning head coach fired, the Packers scored an 87 team rating from the “Madden” adjustors—tied for third in the NFL with the Saints and Patriots. Only the Eagles and Cowboys had higher ratings.

Were the people who put together the ratings watching the same team I was last season?

Should a team that ranked 22nd in scoring defense and 12th in total offense be considered among the NFL’s best?

I say no, but apparently the “Madden” adjustors disagree. It goes without saying, though, that these ratings should be taken with a grain of salt. Most importantly, they’re reactive, not predictive.

Here are some takeaways from Monday’s reveal:

Left tackle David Bakhtiari, rated a 97 out of 99, is Green Bay’s best player. He’s the highest-rated lineman—not just left tackle—in the league.

But only three other Packers—receiver Davante Adams (93), quarterback Aaron Rodgers (90) and defensive tackle Kenny Clark (90) reached the 90-point threshold.

Rodgers isn’t even a top-five quarterback anymore, according to “Madden.” A year ago, he was one of seven players to receive the coveted 99 rating—a perfect score.

But 2018 represented a major step back for the two-time MVP. He played through a variety of injuries and looked out of sync at times. Rodgers completed less than 64% of his passes for the first time since 2008 and posted the worst QBR (56.8) of his career.

All of this came while he played behind one of the league’s best offensive lines. Rodgers had an average of 2.95 seconds to throw—ranked fifth in the NFL.

Now, he’s rated behind six other quarterbacks in “Madden.” Reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes (97) is the new No. 1.

Rodgers, though, is still leagues ahead of his counterparts in the NFC North; Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins was next at 81, followed by Detroit’s Matthew Stafford (79) and Chicago’s Mitch Trubisky (75).

Adams is finally getting his due as one of the NFL’s best receivers. He’s ranked ninth after a breakout 2018, when he caught 111 passes for 1,386 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Cornerback Jaire Alexander (83) and running back Aaron Jones (81) were among the biggest risers. Both players jumped six points from their pre-2018 ratings.

Among Green Bay’s 2019 draft choices, defensive end Rashan Gary (73) rated the highest. Safety Darnell Savage Jr. and tight end Jace Sternberger each came in at 72.

“Madden” expects free-agent acquisition Adrian Amos to make an immediate impact in Green Bay’s secondary. He was given an 87 rating, making him the league’s fifth-best strong safety. Former Packer Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the player Amos is replacing, only received an 80 rating.

Other notable ratings:

  • Former UW-Whitewater star Jake Kumerow, who Rodgers has continually talked up, received a 69 rating.
  • Former Wisconsin Badger J.J. Watt was one of 13 players with a perfect 99 awareness score. He scored a 97 overall, making him the second-best defensive end in the NFL behind 99-rated Aaron Donald.
  • Arizona’s Kyler Murray, the No. 1 pick in April’s draft, is rated 73—one point ahead of fellow first-rounder Dwayne Haskins, who was taken by the Redskins.
  • The fastest player in the NFL is Kansas City receiver Tyreek Hill, who boasts perfect 99 scores in speed and acceleration.
  • The Bears and Texans were assessed to have the best defenses in the NFL. Both scored 88s.
  • New Orleans had the highest-rated offense at 92.
  • The Dolphins are ranked last in offense and defense. Not surprisingly, their 74 overall rating is also the worst.

Bryan Wegter is a sports writer for The Gazette. Email him at bwegter@gazettextra.com. Follow him on Twitter @brywegter

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