The Madden NFL 13 Cover Vote Is Down to Four

With four players left standing, it’s now a top dog vs. underdog story in the Madden NFL 13 Cover Vote.

So who ya got?

With the semifinals now upon us, are you backing one of the top-seeded signal callers—Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton—who are destined for a showdown in the Championship round? Or will you rally with the likes of No. 6 Calvin Johnson or No. 11 Patrick Willis just to keep the entire operation honest?

I guess we’ll all know soon enough.

Oh, and in case you’re just tuning in, the Madden NFL 13 Cover Vote, which began as a 64-player free-for-all, is down to quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers and Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers, Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, and San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis. But we’re going to assume you already knew that. You knew that, right?

Right?

Hello?

Anyway …

With just a few days left until we announce a winner, or rather, you decide the winner, I think it’s safe to say we’ve finally found the 2012 version of Peyton Hillis, the unsung hero who powered his way to the top of the polls. Mr. Willis, get the pen and paper out. It’s time to start thinking about crafting your acceptance speech.

So what did the 11th seed darkhorse do to get to this point? Nothing, except upset running backs Matt Forte and Maurice Jones-Drew, along with No. 2 Victor Cruz this past week. A low-seeded linebacker. Knocking out running backs and wide receivers. Who does Willis think he is? Ray Lewis, the last defensive player to appear on the Madden NFL cover solo?

If Willis’s Houdini act is to continue, he’s only going to have to knock out the hottest pony in the race during this week’s semifinal round, Cam Newton.

Who knew 12 months ago that Newton would have had come so far in such a short amount of time? Well, probably Cam Newton, of course. But other than him—and his small group of supporters we assume—most experts repeatedly told us that the rookie QB would struggle during his first year in the NFL.

Wrong.

Not only did Newton excite the NFL by winning a few big games and setting the record for most rushing touchdowns by a QB this past season, he’s dominated the Madden Cover Vote tournament since it began a few weeks back.

So what’s the moral of the story here? Experts are dumb. That, and a Pro Bowl rookie season performance helps catapult you to the front of the pack when it comes to the EA SPORTS cover voting.

But if Panthers fans are already envisioning a “Cam Cover,” hold your horseys and look no further than Rodgers, who last season found himself in this same exact position—the favorite to land on the cover once the field was cut to four. And we all know how that turned out. He lost out to finalist Michael Vick … or was it Hillis who knocked him out? It doesn’t matter. The point is: he lost when most people expected him to advance through to the finals, if not onto the cover itself.

As for Rodgers, where does he find himself this year? That’s right, sitting pretty in the final four yet again. And who is Rodgers paired up against this time around? Oh, that’ll be Calvin Johnson of the Lions.

Ahh, Rodgers vs. Johnson. Now that’s a blue collar battle we can all get fired up about, especially those in the NFC North.

Let’s take a quick look at Rodgers’s story.

He’s the ‘other’ top seed. He’s a Super Bowl champion. He plays for the Green Bay Packers. What else do we really need to say other than he sounds like the ultimate cover guy to us? Not much at all.

Besides, if we pump him up any more than that, well, it just may hurt his chances to advance. So since he’s been quietly winning each round since the competition started, we’ll quietly move on to his challenger who has made some serious noise these past few weeks.

Megatron. Wow. What a run he’s on.

Two weeks ago Johnson handily beat a very hot Arian Foster, who just came off his victory over Tim Tebow (there’s that name again). Before that, Johnson captured 92% of the vote against Dwayne Bowe of the Chiefs. And last week, perhaps his most impressive victory to date, Johnson bumped No. 2 Rob Gronkowski out of the tournament. The same Gronkowski who most thought would advance through to the finals. The same Gronkowski who created popular viral videos in hope of gaining more votes. The same Gronkowski who just got Megatronned.

But can Johnson keep the Mega mojo going for another week? We shall see.

So now the stage is set. Two top seeds. Two upstart candidates. Two more rounds before you select the Madden NFL 13 cover athlete.

“Two” cool.

You can cast your vote for your favorite cover athlete candidate from your computer or mobile phone at ESPN.com/MaddenVote through April 25. To ensure your favorite player advances to the next round, you are also encouraged to vote daily and tweet your picks using #MyMaddenCoverVote on Twitter.

As the tournament continues, be sure to check back for results and previews all the way until the Madden NFL 13 cover athlete is announced.