Re: Stillers 'Chise
I can never play as the Steelers, because the computer usually seems to pick one skill player on offense and defense per game and makes them suck. So a few years back I found myself cursing Hines Ward for dropping the ball. I've played one season as the Steelers per Madden since but I never go farther than that.
Usually I end up creating my own team. I start out by going into Rosters in the main menu, taking a crappy team in a strong or similarly competitive like the Raiders, 49ers, Dolphins, Texans, or Eagles, releasing all their key players, signing the absolute worst Free Agents I can to their team from the FA pool so they can meet roster minimum (so I can release more players) until their best player is a 78 or 80 or so. Then I create my franchise, go into the game, and select that team to replace.
That way all these big name players are still in the league, and I get my own team. I also wait until Week 1 to sign any FA, to make sure I don't just end up with my created team + 22 players of whatever team I destroyed.
Great fun, I play on Custon settings with a Madden IQ of 707 (ranged from about 690-725). I don't like how this year EVERY pass is horizontal. It's more realistic, but I have to run the ball or go with short passes for three quarters before I get one SHOT down field, nevermind if he catches the ball (most of the time, for whatever reason, he just drops the ball).
My current 2012 (I think) Franchise, the Los Angeles Firebirds, has Felix Jones behind Clinton Portis (just signed Jones, Portis' last year on contract and can't afford to sign him), Limas Sweed, Demetrius Williams, and Mario Manningham at receiver (I released Sweed from the Steelers and gave them the Eagles best receiver), and Anthony Henry and a guy I drafted at corner. I also have DeMarcus Ware and LaMarr Woodley at OLB (released Woodley from the Steelers, gave them the best OLB from FA, who was pretty good).
Any of the guys above I got in FA, OR in the "Trade Block" section of the roster. IMO it's way too easy to select a 99 and trade a 1st, 2nd, and an ~90 guy for him, when realistic the Colts are never going to trade Manning. So I try to stay away from that or even trading for picks. I used to stack my team with picks, but you end up way over salary cap since they're all 1st rounders, and your team becomes the best team ever known by three years into the franchise.
Those are my real hot spots on my team. I simmed my first season and ended up like 6-10, but my crappy QB won RotY. I drafted a QB in the first, a Guard in the 2nd, a Tackle in the 3rd, and hit money on FB late in the draft. My Line has an 88 at C and my LT is an 84 iirc, but that's the worst spot. My two Guards and RT are just awesome, 90, 92, and 94 I think. Good line play is important this year.