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Pickin' & Grinnin': With the Super Bowl looming, these are bird-brained predictions

A star-telegram.com investigation has discovered that this marks the first time under the current AFC/NFC Championship Game format that three of the final four teams feature bird mascots.

We are guaranteed at least one bird in the Super Bowl, with the Eagles and Cardinals squaring off for NFC supremacy. The Ravens can make it an all-bird Bowl by soaring past the Steelers.

Did you know that the Ravens are the only bird team to win a Super Bowl. (The Seahawks, Eagles and Falcons all have had their wings clipped in the big game.) In fact, before the Ravens, the only team with a flying mascot to win a Super Bowl was the Jets in Super Bowl III.

So it appears that the best bet for a bird team to win the NFL championship is to have two of them in the Super Bowl. That has never happened. But with three flying mascots still standing, so to speak, are we on the verge of NFL history? Yes we are.

I say that not because I think the Ravens will fly to Tampa, but because everything that happens, by definition, makes history.

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (-6): This is the third meeting this season between these division rivals, and the Steelers won both previous games. You know what they say you can do when these two teams get together: Throw the offenses out the window. Pick: Steelers 13-10.

Philadelphia Eagles (-3 1/2) at Arizona Cardinals: My immediate thought was to take the Cardinals despite their underdog status. But then I realized that the Cardinals have never played in an NFC Championship Game, so I can’t evaluate their history in this spot. And then I realized that the Eagles are playing their fifth championship game in eight years, all with Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb, and we know their history here. Pick: Cardinals 20-17.

Last week: 1-3 (.250) overall, 2-2 (.500) vs. the spread. Season: 110-102-1 (.612) overall, 126-121-4 (.510) vs. the spread.

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