With Madden 2020 trickling out its ratings over the past few weeks, I thought back to a time before there was an annual NFL video game. For most of the run of the original Nintendo Entertainment System sports games were dismal. If you were lucky enough to find a game that might have a season mode it usually required you to input an 800 character password to continue.
In January 1992 came Tecmo Super Bowl to forever change expectations of what a sports video game should be. As far as video games went it was the first football game to feature real NFL teams and players, a full season mode with cumulative statistics, unique and dynamic player ratings throughout a season, injuries, substitutions and a save game feature. While the game lacked realism it was an arcade style of football that didn’t lack in fun. While plays of 40+ yards weren’t uncommon, if a defense dialed up the right play against an offense it usually resulted in a drive crushing sack. With quick paced games it has survived the test of time as a retro gaming cult classic.
That game has lived as a bit of a time capsule for the 1990 NFL season. What most people don’t realize is how outdated the game was when it was released. All of the rosters and their ratings were based on the statistical leaders of the 1990 season. This meant that the entire 1991 off-season was not accounted for. It would be like Madden 2020 coming out a couple weeks before the Super Bowl, and still only featuring rosters from last season.
At that time it just didn’t matter, it was something. If you were a fan of a team who had a star player in 1990 this game was a joy. The most legendary player from this game is the Raiders’ Bo Jackson. “Tecmo Bo,” as he is known by fans of the game is not only the game’s best player, but perhaps one of the most dominating video game characters of all time. A handful of jukes and an entire defense would be left well in Bo’s dust. Bo’s only real rival in elusiveness was the Lions’ Barry Sanders. If jukes weren’t your thing there was the Chiefs’ Christian Okoye who would just bowl over anyone who dared try to tackle him alone. The Oilers’ had an amazing offense with Warren Moon and four very gifted receivers. The 49ers were a dominant team in almost every facet of the game. Defensively the Chiefs also had a wrecking ball at linebacker in Derrick Thomas. Thomas was only rivaled by the Giants’ Lawrence Taylor. Those two players could take over games defensively. The Buccaneers’ Wayne Haddix was the gold standard of interceptions in Tecmo Super Bowl. The Packers’ Nose Tackle Bob Nelson was basically a cheat code as he could dive over the line the second the ball was snapped and sack the QB. Then there was the Cleveland Browns…
Of course the Browns were among the league’s elite units from 1987-89. But 1990 was a down year for the Browns. Many of the names that older Browns fans loved to watch in the late 80’s are still there. But Tecmo didn’t holdover any veteran bonus to their ratings like Madden tends to now. So the Browns were a pretty vanilla Tecmo Super Bowl team. Bernie Kosar would have been pretty good if he would have been Bernie Kosar. At that time there were several quarterbacks who were not part of the Player’s Union. Since Tecmo didn’t have the rights to Kosar’s name he was represented as #0 QB Browns. Ozzie Newsome was probably QB Browns most reliable target in an overall average team. They weren’t the worst team by any means, but certainly not even close to the best.
With such a bland representation in the original NES classic I wondered what a Browns Tecmo Super Bowl team might look today. Thankfully thanks to contributors to tecmobowl.org that isn’t just a dream. There has been an effort over the years to keep the game modern. User Goji has the latest update for Tecmo Super Bowl. This version contains all 32 teams, has realigned the divisions, has the authentic schedule, the extra point is from the proper distance and what looks to be a pretty solid roster update. And happily the Browns roster is far from vanilla this time around. So I decided that I would take the Browns through the season mode and see how we fared. And more importantly get the official Tecmo Super Bowl 2019 predictions for the season.
Week One- Win vs Titans 42-17: The Browns start with a statement game. OBJ introduced himself to Cleveland with a 159 yard 3 touchdown effort, while Nick Chubb had 200 all purpose yards with three more TDs himself. It ended up being quite a statement game for Baker Mayfield as well throwing for over 300 yards and 5 TDs.
Week Two- Win vs Jets 36-7: Baker vs Darnold part two wasn’t much of a matchup. The Browns stormed to an early lead and never looked back. Two more TDs a piece for Chubb and OBJ made this an easy win.
Week Three- Win vs Rams 30-7: This anticipated shootout was anything but high scoring. In fact this game was much closer than the scoreboard would indicate. The Browns only had a 10-7 lead heading into the 4th quarter before exploding for 20 points in the final period.
Week Four- Win vs Ravens 49-21: Lamar Jackson ran for three touchdowns, he also passed for 10 yards. Nick Chubb provided four TDs for the Browns, while Baker threw for three himself. The Browns improve to 4-0.
Week Five- Win vs 49ers 21-10: The Browns defense showed off this week as the offense sputtered in both the first and third quarters. Nick Chubb sealed the win in the fourth quarter with a touchdown run.
Week Six- Win vs Seahawks 27-3: The Browns win behind their strongest defensive effort of the year. Having OBJ and Chubb continuing to rack up touchdowns doesn’t hurt either. Tecmo Twitter is lighting up heading into the bye week at 6-0.
Week Eight- Win vs Patriots 30-0: The Browns turned Tom Brady into a tackling dummy in an beautiful win versus the Patriots. Baker and Chubb both added two more touchdowns to their totals as this game was never competitive.
Week Nine- Win vs Broncos 20-14: Nick Chubb was the story of the day racking up three more touchdowns. Chubb’s efforts wiped out an early Bronco lead and brought the Browns record to 8-0
Week Ten- Win vs Bills 27-21: Tecmo Twitter was wondering with the way Chubb was playing if Kareem Hunt would get an opportunity to play. After a slow start by the Browns offense Hunt brought them to life by taking his first carry into the endzone. The Bills refused to go away, as the game went back and forth throughout. Hunt’s second touchdown in the fourth quarter was enough to seal the deal.
Week Eleven- Win vs Steelers 37-14: Pittsburgh fired the first shot with an Eli Rogers touchdown. The Browns countered by scoring the next 37 points.
Week Twelve- Win vs Dolphins 43-0: Heading into this game you would think the Dolphins would have the motivation to end the perfect season. They did not. The Dolphins couldn’t have had a worse day. The Browns offensive stats weren’t even that impressive because they constantly had tremendous field position.
Week Thirteen- Win vs Steelers 37-7: With the second game against the Steelers in three weeks the Browns left little doubt on the season series. Only a garbage time touchdown saved the Steelers from a shutout. The only thing better than the pass rush was the fact that at 12-0 the Browns had officially clinched the division.
Week Fourteen- Win vs Bengals 27-7: While Baker and OBJ remain a hot combo, the defense has been stealing the show. For the second straight week the Browns pass rush has eliminated any chance of a team establishing a passing game. The only touchdown the Bengals scored was on a fumble recovery on punt return Antonio Callaway nearly scored on.
Week Fifteen- Loss vs Cardinals 27-24: The perfect dream ended in surprising fashion. Two fumbles by Baker at the end of both halves led directly to Cardinals touchdowns. Including the walk-off in this game. But even a 13-1 is still now enough to guarantee a bye in the first round of the playoffs.
Week Sixteen- Loss vs Ravens 14-9: Another shocker ending stuns the Browns again. With a small lead the Browns pulled the starters at halftime, failing to mount much offense in the second half. After another game of failing to throw the football against the Browns, Lamar Jackson took his final opportunity to find Willie Snead on a deep ball in the final seconds of the game handing the Browns a second straight defeat.
Week Seventeen- Win vs Bengals 32-26: The most meaningless game of the season became one of the better games of the season. The plan was to bench the starters, but an injury to Callaway early left OBJ in a position where he was needed. He responded with three touchdowns to finish the regular season on a high note.
Mayfield was the NFL’s top rated passer. Logging 31 touchdowns against only 5 interceptions helped keep that number high. Perhaps even more impressive was Myles Garrett’s 46 sacks which easily led the league. OBJ was third in the NFL with 1290 yards and led the league with 19 TD catches. But more importantly the Browns have a spot in the playoffs and await the Wild Card round to find their opponent.
Wild Card Round:
- Broncos (WC) def. Patriots 24-23
- Saints (WC) def. Vikings 31-23
- Steelers (WC) def. Colts 24-21
- Eagles def. Packers (WC) 20-17
- Chiefs def. Broncos 27-13
- Rams def. Saints 28-21
- Eagles def. Panthers 28-14
Browns def. Steelers 17-7: OBJ made sure the Browns took an early lead. The defense helped complete the three game sweep of the Steelers in 2019. Once again a late drive saved the Steelers from being completely shutout, but couldn’t stop their season from ending.
NFC Championship- Eagles def. Rams 20-17
AFC Championship- Chiefs def. Browns 28-21: After a back and forth game, once again the Browns were victimized by a last minute drive in the AFC Championship. This time it was Patrick Mahomes leading the charge. With the game tied at 21, Mahomes narrowly avoided a sack on a third and long, hitting Travis Kelce who broke a tackle and took the ball nearly the length of the field. Mahomes put the final dagger in the Browns a play later.
Super Bowl- Chiefs def. Eagles 24-21
I’m not sure this will prove the most accurate prediction that has ever been published. It will be fun to see the season play out to see how close the game came.