NFL Q&A with Allen and The Ace is a weekly Thursday column featured on TJRsports.com. Allen and The Ace are big time NFL junkies and are Falcon and Packer fans, respectively. Each week the guys will ask questions and discuss the previous week’s games along with picking the Top 5 Games of the Week!
Ace: We are back for our second of three preseason installments before we tackle our NFL Preview. NFL Rosters must be trimmed down to 75 by next Tuesday and by next Saturday the 53 man rosters must be made official. This week’s preseason games will be the closest to a regular season game that we will see for about two more weeks, as next week’s games will feature minimal big names.
My Green Bay Packers defeated John Canton’s Rams this past weekend (That’s right, John…I went there). There were some bright spots too. David Bakhtiari and Don Barclay are playing very well on the offensive line. Rookie Eddie Lacy made his debut and I believe will be something special. Tight End Jermichael Finley looks like he’s putting it all together with 4 receptions for over 70 yards. Not to mention the defense played pretty well on all aspects, even if most of the guys won’t make the team. I can’t wait for the season to get rolling.
Allen: It was a relatively quiet week in football minus the whole Von Miller fiasco. We’ll get to that shortly, but there wasn’t anything major that happened. I’m sure some people are curious about our thoughts on the Dustin Keller injury. I’ve said it on my twitter account and I’ll say it again. If you think that hit was dirty, then you need to seriously educate yourself about football. That goes to Brian Hartline as well, who made a bonehead statement about the injury calling it “crap”.
With the ridiculous amount of fines and always being taught to tackle low, what was D.J Swearinger supposed to do? Dustin Keller outweighs him by about thirty pounds, so it would be more effective to tackle him low. It amazes me how players complain about how the NFL is getting soft, then cry to the media about how a hit was dirty. Some of these knuckleheads won’t ever be satisfied with the NFL rules.
Anyway that is my mini rant about the injury; there are better things to discuss, as the season is only a few weeks away from beginning. We got some questions to answer as usual.
Ace: Personally, I believe that this year it’s harder than ever to predict who will be the Super Bowl Champion.
As of right now, who do you believe are the top 3 teams in each conference that have the best shot to win the Super bowl?
Allen: This is a much easier question than people would actually expect. Regardless of the Von Miller suspension, everyone knows the Denver Broncos are the favorites in the AFC. The offense is absolutely stacked, while the defense is very under appreciated. Shaun Phillips and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are going to prove to be excellent pickups. Houston is the next team based on how balanced they are. Matt Schaub may be considered shaky when you compare him with the upper echelon of quarterbacks. He’s serviceable enough to get them to the AFC championship at minimum.
I’m not labeling them as possible sleepers for the Super Bowl. Cincinnati should be the third best team in the AFC based on their elite defense and their young offense steadily improving. They still have some holes, but it’s near impossible to blow them out based on how good their defense is. In the NFC, Atlanta and Seattle are too close to break apart right now.
Nobody has more skilled offensively than the Falcons and nobody is more skilled defensively than the Seahawks. I’m still going to give the last spot to San Francisco, even though the loss of Michael Crabtree is a major concern. He carried the 49ers’ passing attack through long stretches of games in the second half of the season. The loss of him means young receivers need to step up to help out Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis. The defense and rushing attack still make them more than capable in getting them back into the Super Bowl.
NFL Story of the Week
Denver Broncos Linebacker Von Miller has been suspended six games for violating the NFL substance abuse policy.
Allen: The big story of this week involves Von Miller and his six game suspension. How does this affect the Broncos and can the defense keep teams from scoring less than 30 points a game, while he’s out?
The reason why the suspension isn’t as bad as some people make it out to be is because of Denver’s schedule. In the first six games, they play teams like Oakland, Jacksonville, and Philadelphia. Those teams should be considered as cupcakes for Denver. The tests will be against Baltimore, Dallas, and the New York Giants. Those three games are still very winnable with all three teams being nowhere near elite.
Dallas and New York do have strong passing attacks that can give Denver problems. While Denver has an above average secondary, it’ll struggle if the team can muster up much of a pass rush. Shaun Philips was a nice addition in the off-season, but he’s more of a complimentary player than top pass rusher at this point of his career. It’ll be up to young pass rushers like Derek Wolfe and Malik Jackson to step up.
At worst, Denver starts out the season going 3-3. They started off slow last season, so it won’t be anything dramatic to overcome. Once Miller comes back, the defense will go back to being above average and put less pressure on the offense to score more than 30 points a game. This is a huge loss, but it’s nothing that will hurt when it matters most in January. I’ll be shocked if Denver doesn’t earn the first seed in the AFC.
Ace: This is going to hurt Denver’s defense a little bit. Miller came in 2nd in the Defensive Player of the Year voting by registering 18.5 Sacks and being a dominant leader to the Broncos defense. Personally, I believe that the Broncos defense will be pretty average this year. Losing a guy like that for six games will be a huge blow.
Looking at their schedule they have four home games and two road games they are: vs. Baltimore, at New York Giants, vs. Oakland, vs. Philadelphia, at Dallas, vs. Jacksonville. Three of those teams were .500 or better and the other three were in the Top 5 for the NFL Draft. As Allen mentioned earlier, having Champ Bailey and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, not to mention Shaun Phillips on defense, and they shouldn’t miss too much of a beat.
Miller was suspended for spilled and diluted urine sampled. From everything that I read a diluted sample could be from the result of over hydration or an attempt to defraud the test, which makes it even more suspicious. If you were clean, and you knew it, you would pee in a cup and it would be the end of it. I find the whole situation very odd and after losing a guy like Elvis Dumervil, who combined with Miller had 29.5 of Denver’s 52 sacks, this will be a very tough first stretch of games for the Denver defense. They better hope Peyton Manning and company give them some big leads otherwise a .500 start might be possible.
Allen: How much do you see the Detroit Lions improving this year? They certainly can't be any worse than going 4-12 from last season.
Ace: The NFC North will be a very fun division to watch this season. As everyone who reads this knows I’m a Packers fan, so naturally, I’m pulling for my squad to win the division. Any one of these teams could win the division. Detroit will be better than last season, but how much better?
I broke down the schedules of all 32 teams and I determined that the Lions should be in the 7-9 ballpark. Adding Reggie Bush as your feature back to an offense that features Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford was a tremendous pick up. It gives the Lions an element that could help them add a few more wins on the 7 I think they will get. If you have defenses that are playing double coverage on Calvin Johnson and they forget about Reggie bush, they will most certainly get burned.
Will the Lions be a playoff team? It’s possible. Is it likely? No. The NFC is stacked and the NFC North is also stacked. If the Lions can have a .500 or better Divisional record, I wouldn’t count them out of making the playoffs for the 2nd time in 3 years.
Allen: The third week of pre-season is always the most important one. It’s where the starters play for at least the first half and start to gel, before the games begin to matter. I’m surprised to hear how many quarterback competitions are already finished. Michael Vick won the starting role in Philadelphia, while Blaine Gabbert won the starting role in Jacksonville. You would think teams usually wait after week three of the pre-season to make a decision on that.
There are still some quarterback competitions out there that haven’t been decided yet. Buffalo seems to be a mess right now with E.J Manuel injured and Kevin Kolb struggling as usual. Then the New York Jets have the same situation with Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez. I’m amazed at how two teams in the same division have the same quarterback problems. By this time next week, I’d hope to hear who is starting for both respective teams.
Ace: The third week of the preseason should be fun. I should be home from work on Friday by 6:30pm which will give me a half hour to prepare for the Packers/Seahawks in primetime. From the looks of it, I would think Manuel and Sanchez are the starters for those two teams you just mentioned. I cannot wait for this preseason to become the regular season. Before I check out, we’ll be having the Macho Men Radio NFL Preview Edition on Wednesday, September 4th at 7pm/CT. I will post the link next week so you can save that bad boy in your favorites. Allen will join C-Mac and I along with John Canton and a few others. It’ll be a sneak preview to our NFL Preview article! See you all next week!
You can hear The Ace on Macho Men Radio with C-Mac every Tuesday night on BlogTalkRadio at blogtalkradio.com/machomenradio