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What's trending in the NFL: Patriots, Broncos trade trash talk

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Broncos DE labels Tom Brady a crybaby (2:00)

ESPN NFL analyst Jeff Saturday explains why quarterbacks like Tom Brady benefit from complaining to referees and the thought process behind Broncos defensive end Antonio Smith drawing attention to Brady's tendencies leading up to the AFC title game. (2:00)

Here are the top stories from Tuesday:

When asked if Patriots QB Tom Brady should be considered a crybaby, Broncos D-lineman Antonio Smith had this to say: "That would be an accurate statement. I've never seen any quarterback look to the referee right after he gets sacked more than Brady. Every time he gets sacked, he looks at the ref like, 'You see him sack me? Was that supposed to happen? He did it a little hard. Please throw a 15-yard penalty on him. Get him fined.'"

Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski and the Broncos' official Twitter account traded barbs on social media.

Did anyone do enough in the divisional round to knock the Panthers from their perch at No. 1? Who's the weakest of this heavyweight bunch? Here are the conference championship Power Rankings.

From Bill Barnwell's column on the Steelers' future: "The Pittsburgh defense was markedly better after bottoming out last season. The Steelers were 30th in defensive DVOA in 2014, which led to the departure of a pair of franchise icons, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and safety Troy Polamalu. This season, the Steelers were not exactly the Steel Curtain of old, but they were a much better unit, jumping up to 11th in DVOA this season. Led by burgeoning stars Cameron Heyward and Ryan Shazier, the Steelers featured the league's fifth-ranked run defense."

From Kevin Seifert's column on the Packers' title window with Aaron Rodgers closing ever-so-slightly: "Rodgers turned 32 last month and will begin his 12th NFL season in September. If championships are the way to measure greatness, then the Packers have failed to fully redeem the gift of a two-time MVP who will go down as one of the best ever. The window is not shut, of course. There is plenty of recent precedent for elite quarterbacks maintaining skills into their late 30s. But it's fair to ask if the Packers simply have been unlucky during Rodgers' career, or if he is caught in a systemic shortcoming that will limit his impact on history."

Antwaan Randle El says he regrets playing football, in part because the 36-year-old now has difficulty walking down the stairs: "I have to come down sideways sometimes, depending on the day," Randle El said in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story on former Steelers Super Bowl winners. "Going up is easier actually than coming down."

From Mike Sando's column on whether this Denver defense is the best unit ever on a Peyton Manning team: "The 2015 Broncos are No. 1 for a few reasons. The other high-ranked defenses could count on Manning to produce at a high level most of the time. Many of the ones in Indianapolis were set up to rush the passer after Manning and the offense had built leads. This Denver defense has had to win despite its offense, and it has generally succeeded over a full season."


Best stat

From ESPN Stats & Information research: The Patriots dropped back to pass on 82.7 percent of their plays in their win against the Chiefs on Saturday. Over the past 15 seasons, including playoffs, New England is 6-1 when dropping back to pass on at least 80 percent of its offensive plays. The rest of the NFL is 6-137 in such games.


Best tweet

Junior Seau's daughter Sydney pays homage to her dad on his birthday.