Madden Bowl teams, coverage plans

Drew Brees is hoping to raise his hands in victory once again at this year's Madden Bowl. Natalie Behring/AP Images for EA SPORTS

Who is the best gamer in the NFL?

Ask around the league and you'll hear the names Maurice Jones Drew, Arian Foster, and Patrick Willis at the top of everybody's list.

But with Madden Bowl XVIII kicking off Thursday night in Indianapolis, this is not only every player's chance to prove their talent, but thanks to live coverage on ESPN3, it's ever gamer's chance to see if these guys really have the sort of stick skills they like to brag about online.

Top it off with a Microsoft "Game with Fame" event taking place right before the tournament (from 6:00pm to 7:00pm EST), where gamers have the opportunity to play "Madden NFL 12" against a real Pro Bowl player online, and you have all the makings of Video Game Party of the Year.

In order to play against the pros, simply send a friend request to NFLBaller2012, then on Thursday night, start playing Madden NFL 12 on the Xbox 360 at 5:30pm EST. If you're one of the lucky ones, you'll receive an invite from one of the NFL stars at the party, so make sure you have your headset if you want to talk trash. Just be ready for them to talk trash right back as these guys don't like to lose.

Then, after Game with Fame, the players will join forces into four groups playing under 3 vs. 3, Online Team Play rules. The teams that will compete include:

All-Madden Team: Arian Foster (RB, Houston Texans), Maurice Jones-Drew (RB, Jacksonville Jaguars), and Patrick Willis (LB, San Francisco 49ers)

Madden Legends Team: Barry Sanders (Pro Football Hall of Fame), Deion Sanders (Pro Football Hall of Fame) and Warren Sapp (DT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Madden "Clutch" Team: Drew Brees (QB, New Orleans Saints), Jimmy Graham (TE, New Orleans Saints), and Tim Tebow (QB, Denver Broncos)

Rookie Team (2012 NFL Draft Eligible): Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma State University), Robert Griffin III (QB, Baylor University), LaMichael James (RB, University of Oregon)

ESPN's coverage will be hosted by Trey Wingo, Michelle Beadle, and Cassidy Hubbarth, and begins at 9:00pm EST on both ESPN3 (WatchESPN.com) and on ESPN's Xbox Live channel.

Can anybody beat the "All-Madden" team? Tune in Thursday to find out.