NFC West: Madden 13

There will be no alleged "Madden 13" cover jinx for the NFC West.

Patrick Willis, the final representative from the division, fell to Cam Newton by a 53-47 percentage margin in the semifinals.

The fact that Calvin Johnson obliterated Aaron Rodgers in the other bracket (63-37 margin) might suggest Green Bay Packers fans were eager to keep their team's most important player off the cover. Some of them presumably voted for Johnson.

In any event, any associated drama for Willis and the NFC West has passed.

Willis had prevailed against Matt Forte, Maurice Jones-Drew and Victor Cruz.
The NFC West has gone about as far as it's likely to go in "Madden 13" cover balloting.

The San Francisco 49ers' Patrick Willis has knocked off Matt Forte, Maurice Jones-Drew and Victor Cruz to reach the semifinals, where Cam Newton stands in his way.

Newton easily beat out the Arizona Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald by a 70-30 percentage margin. Newton previously won by margins of 87-13 over LeGarrette Blount and 83-17 over Antonio Gates.

Willis, a 55-45 winner over Cruz, previously won by 62-38 (Forte) and 58-42 (Jones-Drew) margins.

The Newton-Willis winner faces Aaron Rodgers or Calvin Johnson in the finals.

Vote away.

I'm going with Willis and Rodgers.

Passing along: Patrick Willis' recent SportsCenter interview reflecting on the San Francisco 49ers' 2011 season, specifically the "family atmosphere" around the team and Willis' characterization of Jim Harbaugh as "the true definition of a players' coach."

Willis also discussed his status as a No. 11 seed in the "Madden 13" and why he's worthy of appearing on the cover in the tradition of Ray Lewis.

Finally, Willis singled out Marshawn Lynch and Steven Jackson as the two toughest guys to tackle in the NFL. Can you think of anyone tougher to bring down?
San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis routinely cuts down running backs in the open field.

Willis has likewise taken out two top backs in the "Madden 13" cover competition, joining fellow NFC West icon Larry Fitzgerald in the final eight despite Willis' status as a No. 11 seed.

This is no time for complacency, NFC West voters.

Now that Willis has taken out Matt Forte and Maurice Jones-Drew, we cannot in good conscience allow New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz, possessor of seven regular-season starts and one notable season, to knock out the baddest linebacker in the land.

Fitzgerald, meanwhile, faces No. 1 seed Cam Newton. The Willis-Cruz and Fitzgerald-Newton winners will face off in the next round. Aaron Rodgers-Ray Rice and Calvin Johnson-Rob Gronkowski round out the other bracket.

Vote away.

Fitzgerald won his first-round matchup with Troy Polamalu by a 72-28 margin. He then beat LeSean McCoy by a 54-46 margin. Willis won comfortably over Forte (62-38) and Jones-Drew (58-42).
Any knowledgeable NFC West fan knows what happens when Matt Forte runs across Patrick Willis.

On the field, Willis helped hold Forte to 2.05 yards per carry as Willis' San Francisco 49ers defeated Forte's Chicago Bears 10-6. We'll conveniently overlook Forte's 120-yard receiving performance during that 2009 matchup at Candlestick Park.

Off the field, Willis defeated Forte to advance in the "Madden 13" cover competition.

Willis was a No. 11 seed to Forte's No. 6, but it's not Willis' fault someone underrated him. Perhaps the folks in charge of seeding were going by most contract complaints lodged instead of most first-team Associated Press All-Pro selections.

Willis faces Maurice Jones-Drew in the next round.

Seattle's Marshawn Lynch takes on Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers after defeating Chris Johnson in the previous round.

Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald goes against Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy after defeating Troy Polamalu.

My choices for this next round: Cam Newton, Fitzgerald, Willis, Darrelle Revis, Lynch, Drew Brees, Calvin Johnson and Jared Allen.

Vote here.
The NFC West blog doesn't have an actual editorial board, but this "Madden '13" cover contest is serious stuff demanding careful contemplation.

Most choices seemed easy in this initial round of 32.

I breezed through the ballot and voted as follows:
The St. Louis Rams aren't represented because their candidate, Lloyd, subsequently signed with New England. Steven Jackson should have been the choice for St. Louis, anyway.
Not that the St. Louis Rams needed any prompting to reassess their roster, but it's time for an overhaul when a receiver likely to spend 11 career games on the roster emerges as a candidate to grace the "Madden 13" cover.

Brandon Lloyd is that receiver. The Rams acquired him during the 2011 season. They chose not to name him their franchise player. They appear likely to watch him leave in free agency, perhaps as early as next week.

No matter. Lloyd still appears with defensive end Chris Long as the Rams' candidates for the next Madden cover. Steven Jackson and James Laurinaitis would have been safer choices than Lloyd.

Marshall Faulk was the last Rams player to grace the cover.

Vernon Davis, Patrick Willis, Marshawn Lynch, Earl Thomas, Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson, Long and Lloyd are NFC West candidates.

Sorry, Peyton Manning isn't an option in fan voting, which reroutes through Facebook

Willis, Thomas, Fitzgerald and Long were my choices from the NFC West. All but Willis was the longest-tenured player from his team (of the choices given).