Cover Athlete Predictions for Sports Video Games in 2023

Happy New Year.

Sports punters look forward to the next set of annual releases on the calendar. Here’s a correct guess at the cover athletes for the most popular sports video game titles expected to be released this year.

NBA 2K24 – Ja Morant

You could make a serious argument that Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies is the most exciting player in the NBA today. From an athletic standpoint, you could probably count on one hand the number of guys capable of doing some of the moves in the air that Morant performs on a nightly basis.

Morad isn’t just explosive, he’s a performer of substance.

The 23-year-old superstar has established himself as a legitimate MVP candidate averaging 27 points, 6.2 rebounds and 8.1 assists per game this season. Plus, Morant’s Grizzlies seem primed for a long postseason run, and that usually helps add attention. Finally, Morant’s style meshes well with 2K’s prime age demographic.

Because it might not work

Memphis is still a small market team. Because of this, 2K may look to someone like Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum, who they have been linked to since he entered the NBA.

MLB The Show 23 – Julio Rodriguez

Sony usually likes to target young, up-and-coming stars as well. Last year’s game featured Los Angeles Angels phenom Shohei Ohtani and the year before, Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres had a tab.

This year, the cover athlete could be Seattle Mariners young star Julio Rodriguez. J-Rod won the American League MVP, and having just turned 22 this week, he’s another young and dynamic fit for the coverage duties.

Because it might not work

Rodriguez is still very young and this accolade may be a year too early.

Madden 24 – Justin Jefferson

The Griddy Dance has become the NFL’s most popular celebration. EA put it in Madden and it makes sense to put Justin Jefferson, the guy who popularized it in the NFL, on the cover.

Jefferson on the cover would be more than a dance. The Minnesota Vikings star is coming off a record-breaking 2022 season. Through Week 16, Jefferson has 1,756 receiving yards, which is 209 yards shy of breaking Calvin Johnson’s record of 1,964 receiving yards in a single season.

Of course Megatron accomplished the goal in 16 games. Jefferson would have to have a monster performance against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday to do so.

Either way, he’s having a huge year and it’s the kind of season that could land the 23-year-old on the cover of Madden 24.

Because it might not work

If there is a QB under consideration, most notably Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills or Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals, Jefferson may be knocked out of the sport’s charm position.

NHL 24 – Cale Makar

When it comes to young stars in the NHL, you’d be hard-pressed to find one more productive and promising than the Colorado Avalanche’s Cale Makar.

The 24-year-old is averaging more than a point per game in his young NHL career and has scored 57 goals. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s one of the few really good NHL players under the age of 25 who has been on a Stanley Cup-winning team.

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s Mikhail Sergachev was excellent in the early stages of his career and helped the Lightning win two Stanley Cups, but the cover athlete isn’t likely to be a great defender, so we’ll go with Makar.

Because it might not work

EA could choose to go with a more established star, maybe even a legend like Sidney Crosby on the cover.

EA FC 24 – Kylian Mbappe

Kylian Mbappe has been the cover athlete since FIFA 21, although he shared the honor with Sam Kerr for FIFA 23. Kerr could return to share the honors with Mbappe, but the PSG star looks like a lock to remain the face of EA’s football title.

While France fell behind in their bid to win the 2022 World Cup, Mbappe’s performance at the tournament was legendary.

Marked by his three-goal outing in the final against Argentina, Mbappe took the golden boot as the best player of the World Cup. Unless EA goes in a completely new direction, Mbappe should be the cover athlete for the new game.

Because it might not work

I can’t think of a reason it won’t.

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