The Madden 25 cover vote has moved into the third round. Gone are almost all the names that everyone knew had no chance of winning the vote.
What we have left are a few sleepers, and the odds-on favorites to grace the cover. Personally, I'm mad Terrell Davis was eliminated, but I can't say I'm surprised.
Here is a look at the results (via ESPN) and the pairings and predictions for the the next round.
Old-School Bracket—Second Round Results
(1) Joe Montana vs. (9) Jerome Bettis
Joe just keeps on rolling, it wasn't quite as lopsided as the first-round win, but he effectively stalled the Bus' run at the Madden 25 cover.
Winner: Joe Montana
(5) Marshall Faulk vs. (4) Dan Marino
I wish these two didn't have to go against each other, but I'm happy Marino won. He was my favorite quarterback of the 1980s.
The Greatest Player on Turf couldn't defeat Dan the Man.
Winner: Dan Marino
Who has the best chance to knock off Joe Montana in this group?
(6) Marcus Allen vs. (3) Barry Sanders
This was a complete mismatch. People recognize how great Allen was, but Sanders has a significant edge in cool points.
There aren't many running backs that stand a chance when compared to Sanders in a popularity contest.
Winner: Barry Sanders
(10) LaDainian Tomlinson vs. (2) Ray Lewis
I thought this was an interesting pairing, but Lewis ran away from L.T. for an easy victory. With the Super Bowl victory still fresh in fans' minds, Lewis will be tough to beat.
Because he is so closely removed from his playing days, perhaps it would have been more fair to have a third bracket called the Transitional School bracket, but whatever.
Winner: Ray Lewis
(1) Jerry Rice vs. (9) Eddie George
Eddie never had a chance in this one. The player widely regarded as the greatest receiver in history was sure to coast by George.
Winner: Jerry Rice
(5) Michael Strahan vs. (4) Kurt Warner
This one was tricky to predict, but Strahan takes out Warner in the second round. Genuinely the quarterbacks have an edge over defensive players in the cover vote, but this was obviously the exception.
Winner: Michael Strahan
(6) Tim Brown vs. (3) Troy Aikman
Signal callers regain their dominance here as Bill Callahan's favorite receiver goes down to Aikman. I keep saying the Dallas Cowboys legend can't win this cover vote, but he keeps winning.
It seems like a Cowboys player should be on the Madden cover at some point, but I'm still not convinced Aikman is a legitimate threat.
Winner: Troy Aikman
(10) Terrell Davis vs. (2) Deion Sanders
TD was another one of my favorites, but I saw this beat down coming a mile a way. Sanders is my pick to emerge from the bottom portion of the old-school bracket
Winner: Deion Sanders
(1) Colin Kaepernick vs. (8) A.J. Green
Kaepernick plowing through A.J. Green was of course no surprise. We may as well fast-forward him in to the final round.
Winner: Colin Kaepernick
(5) Julio Jones vs. (4) Arian Foster
Two underrated and under-appreciated stars here, but in the end Foster is the most appreciated of the two—if that makes any sense.
Winner: Arian Foster
(6) Von Miller vs. (3) Russell Wilson
Perhaps now people will take Wilson seriously as a true contender to win this cover vote. The closer he gets, the more the Seahawks' fan base will get behind him.
Don't underestimate the 12th man.
Winner: Russell Wilson
(10) Clay Matthews vs. (2) Andrew Luck
I predicted Matthews would upset Luck, but I was wrong. People like Luck more than I thought. It's that or Green Bay Packers fans ignored the second round because Aaron Rodgers wasn't involved.
Winner: Andrew Luck
(1) Robert Griffin III vs. (8) Doug Martin
RGIII is rehabbing his knee, throwing footballs to elephants and beating Martin easily in the second round of the cover vote. That's what you call multi-tasking.
Can RGIII become the third player (Shaun Alexander and Larry Fitzgerald) to ever appear on the NCAA Football and Madden? Barry Sanders also has a shot at accomplishing both of these feats, though both honors came after his playing career was over.
He was technically on the cover of Madden 2000, but he was in the background behind John Madden.
If RGIII pulls it off this year, he'd be the first to appear on the cover the year after he graced the NCAA cover.
Winner: Robert Griffin III
(5) Ray Rice vs. (4) Dez Bryant
Bryant had a great season, and he pulled off a big win in round 1, but again the Baltimore Ravens' mystique is a little too strong. Rice moves on in this one.
Winner: Ray Rice
(11) Darrelle Revis vs. (3) Rob Gronkowski
This was pretty easy, the only people that voted for Revis are the people that hate Gronk. On second thought, that could have made this pretty close.
Winner: Rob Gronkowski
(10) LeSean McCoy vs. (2) Adrian Peterson
A.P. had the widest margin of victory in first round, and he continues to smash the competition.
Winner: Adrian Peterson
Looking Ahead to the Third Round
Old-School Bracket Pairings
(1) Joe Montana vs. (4) Dan Marino
This is the ultimate battle of 1980s quarterbacks—okay, except for John Elway, but these two guys were a mark of excellence under center.
Unfortunately Marino never gets the nod over Montana.
Of the remaining legends, who is the biggest sleeper?
(3) Barry Sanders vs. (2) Ray Lewis
This is perhaps the most intriguing matchup in the old-school bracket. It is hard to predict a winner, but I'm going to go with Lewis because of recency.
(1) Jerry Rice vs. (5) Michael Strahan
Strahan's run will end against the top seed in the second group of the old-school bracket. Could we be headed for an all-San Francisco 49ers final amongst the legends?
(3) Troy Aikman vs. (2) Deion Sanders
It doesn't matter if you call Sanders an Atlanta Falcon, Cowboy or 49er, just call him through to the next round. I'd love to see him on the cover in the black Falcons jersey, though.
New School Bracket Pairings
(1) Colin Kaepernick vs. (4) Arian Foster
Kaepernick will advance easily once again. Is it me, or is it beginning to look like the Niners are the new America's team?
Of the remaining current players, who is the biggest sleeper?
(3) Russell Wilson vs. (2) Andrew Luck
Okay, I'll definitely be right this time. Wilson will knock off Luck—I think.
(1) Robert Griffin III vs. (5) Ray Rice
RGIII might get his first test from Rice, but he'll win this battle of stars from Maryland-area teams. He may be the only man that can stop a Niners-sweep of the cover.
(3) Rob Gronkowski vs. (2) Adrian Peterson
This could be close, even though it shouldn't be. A.P. returned from a torn ACL to carry the Minnesota Vikings to the playoffs, and he nearly set the single-season rushing record in the process.
That just sounds like a year worthy of recognition from the Madden franchise.
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