Since fan voting for the cover athlete for Madden 13 opened on March 7th, over 12.8 million votes have been tallied in the play-in and first round. Each week the bracket is narrowing down the candidates until the winner is unveiled on April 25th. The first round of votes brought a field of 16 players that didn’t surprise anybody, with only one lower seed taking out their higher-ranked counterpart.
Below are the 16 candidates still remaining and my picks for matchup. To cast your vote, go to www.ESPN.com/Maddenvote and make your voice heard. Second round voting ends April 4th.
Cam Newton vs. Antonio Gates
Newton won his first round match-up with 87% of the vote while Gates got 55% against Dwight Freeney. It would take a major upset from here on out to take down Cam. I’ve got him winning the whole thing.
Larry Fitzgerald vs. LeSean McCoy
Fitz has already been on the cover and McCoy had a breakout season last year. My vote goes to Shady.
Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Patrick Willis
I was a little surprised that voters didn’t jump on the absurd chance to vote a kicker (Sebastian Janikowski) into the second round over Jones-Drew. On the other side, Willis was the only seeding upset in the first round taking out Matt Forte. I voted for him in the play-in round and the first round and I think this year’s dark horse keeps it going.
Victor Cruz vs. Derrelle Revis
In the battle for the big apple I only have one word for you, CRUUUUUUUUUUZ!!
Aaron Rodgers vs. Marshawn Lynch
The only pairing of players who received over 70% of votes in their first round matchups, I’m going with Rodgers. Though it wouldn’t surprise me to see Lynch make this a close vote.
Drew Brees vs. Ray Rice
I’ve said from day one that I don’t vote for players who’ve already been on the cover of Madden. Add that to my hatred for the Ravens and how much I’d love to see the Madden curse befall Baltimore, and I have to vote for Ray Rice, though this will be a close vote and it wouldn’t surprise me if Brees moved on.
Arian Foster vs. Calvin Johnson
Calvin Johnson had the largest margin of victory in the first round, receiving 92% of the vote over Dwayne Bowe. On the other side of this matchup, though, is Arian Foster. Foster had the smallest margin of victory of the first round at 54%, but that was over the blind followers of Tebowmania. If you can take down the kind of following that wants to put the worst quarterback in the NFL into the hall of fame, you can take down anyone. Foster may make a run to the finals now, sorry Megatron.
Rob Gronkowski vs. Jared Allen
This could be the largest margin of victory in the second round. Gronk advances.
Fans can go to the Madden NFL Facebook page www.facebook.com/EASPORTSMaddenNFL or SportsNation page www.facebook.com/SportsNation to join discussions on the cover vote. Fans can also share their vote via Twitter by using the hash-tag #MyMaddenCoverVote.