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Grillo on the gridiron

I'm a huge NFL football fan which makes this the best time of year with the playoffs having begun. It's the most fun sport to watch for the strategy and excitement. Everybody's an NFL fan, I think, especially leading up to the Super Bowl.

My favorite team -- unfortunately right now -- is the Dallas Cowboys, who missed the playoffs this year (again). I'm not too happy with the owner and staff these days. Jerry Jones is too controversial and every year there seems to be a lot of drama, but I keep pulling for them.

Back in the '70s and '80s, they only showed the Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers on television in Mexico. That meant everyone who lived there then either became Cowboys fans or Steelers fans. With new generations come new teams, but that early allegiance continues.

I used to play football, in fact. I played for three years in Mexico in my late teens, and they were the best years of my life. It was a military team, one that represented the Mexican Army. The league was open to relatives of military personnel, and since my father studied to become a medical doctor in the military's school, I was able to play. I played defensive end and some linebacker.

NEIL4696__PCA2014_Christian_de_León _Neil Stoddart.jpg

Imagine that face looking out from a helmet

In Mexico there were really only a couple of leagues -- it's not like in the U.S. where there is football everywhere -- so I was lucky to be able to play when I did. I regret not playing more, but I had an injury to my knee which is why I stopped.

Football is like poker in some ways. Both involve a lot of skill, but luck matters, too. A fortunate bounce of the football can decide games just like winning a coin flip in a single hand of poker can decide a tournament.

Preparation matters in both football and poker, too. So does being creative and coming up with new plays and ways to make things happen so you can withstand those unlucky bounces.

So here are my predictions for the rest of the NFL playoffs. I actually picked all four of the winners last weekend -- I took all of the favorites.

I think this Sunday that San Francisco is going to beat Seattle. And I think Denver is going to beat New England, which means Denver will play San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVIII.

Then I think Denver is going to be the champion. We'll see if Peyton Manning can handle the cold in New York, because he's not always so good in cold environments. But I think he'll get there. He's such a great competitor... really inspiring.

They are all great teams, though, and there should be some great games. Who do you think will win?

Christian de Leon is a member of Team PokerStars Pro

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