Kate Upton a favorite for Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover

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Mark Sanchez love interest Kate Upton could inch out other top models to clinch the coveted Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition cover.

The Victoria’s Secret model, recently linked with the Jets quarterback, is considered the top candidate for the cover this year, which will be unveiled Monday on “The Late Show with David Letterman.”

Sources tell the New York Post's Page 6 that Upton’s blond, all-American looks made her a top contender even though the magazine crowned Russian lingerie model Irina Shayk, the girlfriend of soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, as its cover star last year.

PHOTOS: Kate Upton loves patty melts.

Michigan-born Upton, 19, who made her SI Swimsuit debut last year, and also just shot her first Carl's Jr. commercial, was at yesterday’s ribbon-cutting at Lincoln Center to mark the kickoff of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, but the bombshell played coy about her chances of landing the cover — a guaranteed giant career boost.

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“All I can really say is that I’m in the issue,” Upton told Page Six, adding that she’s missing the New York shows because she’ll be promoting the SI issue, including at a launch party at Pure in Las Vegas next week, where Bruno Mars will perform. But she added, “Fingers crossed!”

Go to NYPost.com for more photos of the SI covergirl hopefuls.