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Not much hope in 'Madden 13' cover vote

The bracket for the "Madden 13" video game cover contest is officially up and running, and the odds of an AFC North player repeating appear to be long.

But, after witnessing what the "Madden curse" did to Peyton Hillis, maybe this is a good thing.

It's set up like the NCAA basketball tournament, except there are 32 players instead of 68 teams. The AFC North representatives are Ravens running back Ray Rice, Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and Browns cornerback Joe Haden.

Why is the AFC North at a disadvantage to get a player on the cover this year? The highest-seeded player is Rice, who is fifth. One of the first-round matchups pits two division players against each other (Rice vs. Green). And Haden gets to go against Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is my favorite to win it all.

My pick to pull the biggest upset of the first round is Polamalu, a No. 13 seed who is going against fourth-seeded Larry Fitzgerald. Knowing Polamalu's popularity among Steelers Nation, I see him advancing to face the winner of the LeSean McCoy-Reggie Bush matchup.

Here are the first-round matchups for the AFC North players:

  • Aaron Rodgers (1) vs. Joe Haden (16)

  • Ray Rice (5) vs. A.J. Green (12)

  • Larry Fitzgerald (4) vs. Troy Polamalu (13)