Knock on wood before reading what follows (we did before writing it): The Steelers have beaten the Packers, 24-20, in Madden Bowl XVII, the annual EA Sports Super Bowl simulation. Six of the past seven NFL champions have been predicted by Madden NFL.
The Super Bowl XLV video-game-style simulation is conducted with artificial intelligence powered by real-life data from each team to determine player ratings and includes variances such as injuries. In 2009, the Madden Bowl had the Steelers beating the Cardinals, 28-24. Actual final: Steelers were 27-23 winners.
For Super Bowl XL, the Madden Bowl had the Steelers as 24-19 winners over the Seahawks. The Steelers won that one, 21-10.
In this year's simulated match-up, the Steelers were down, 20-17, when the two-minute warning sounded. The Madden version of Ben Roethlisberger then hit Mike Wallace on a slant, and the wide receiver sped to a 36-yard touchdown, giving Pittsburgh the lead with 1:20 on the clock. Safety Ryan Clark picked off Aaron Rodgers' last-ditch pass to clinch Pittsburgh's seventh title (knock on wood again).
Madden NFL 11 did pick against the Steelers in its regular-season simulation, which had Green Bay and Baltimore "poised for conference dominance" and Rodgers named MVP and Offensive Player of the Year.
Visit ESPN3.com on at 9 p.m. Thursday to watch the live broadcast of Madden Bowl XVII, with performances by Big Boi and Cee Lo Green. More details at maddennfl.easports.com.
-- Sharon Eberson