Brees, Ryan in contention for Madden cover

Not surprisingly, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan defeated Carolina’s Jordan Gross and New Orleans’ Drew Brees got by Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman in the first round of the “Madden NFL 12 Cover Vote’’.

Gross is one of the best offensive tackles in the league and truly one of the nicest people in the NFC South. But did anyone think a tackle from a 2-14 team had a chance against Ryan? A few years down the road, Freeman might have had a chance against Brees, but he’s not quite there yet.

Anyway, we’re onto the next round and you can cast your vote here. Ryan, a No. 2 seed, has a pretty good draw against Cleveland’s Peyton Hillis, a No. 2 seed. But I’d urge New Orleans fans to vote early and often if you want Brees on the cover for the second straight year. He’s got a tough opponent, New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez.

I’d say there’s no real comparison between Brees and Sanchez on the field. But those of us in the NFC South are familiar with how small markets sometimes can get overshadowed by the big ones and Sanchez plays in the league’s biggest market.