NFL Q&A with Allen and The Ace is a weekly 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!

You can follow Allen on Twitter @Allen_Strk and The Ace @TheAce18

Ace: Greetings and welcome to the Week 11 Edition of this piece. I was asked by a client at work earlier this week what I’m going to do if the Packers are out of it. Will I root for the Vikings or will I root for someone else. I said absolutely not, I will not root for the Vikings, but this is why I play fantasy football. At least my 5 money leagues are still playoff bound, can’t really say that about the Packers, but we’ve still got 7 more weeks of action before the playoffs start. It could be worse, they could be 2-7…or 2-8, what are the Falcons at again?

Allen: You are about as funny as Carlos Mencia. I do have to agree about fantasy football or even football in general. My buddy Aaron Freeman created the perfect quote that I’ll be using all season long. “I love everything about Sundays, except the three hours when I have to watch the Falcons play”. That quote couldn’t have been said better. Thankfully, five of my six fantasy football teams are over 500, so that keeps me happy. Ironically the only league that I’m under 500 in is the TJR league. What a poor representative of the website I am. Doug Martin is a talented player, but he sure cost me this season.

Ace: Last week in our ‘Elite Football Mind Challenge’ I took the Panthers over the 49ers. The Panthers improved to 6-3 and would be the #5 seed in the playoffs after defeating the, would be #6 seed 49ers. They own that tiebreaker. They sacked Colin Kaepernick 6 times and held him to 91 yards passing and 16 yards rushing. These Panthers are very quiet and very dangerous. Their offense might not be very glitzy but they’re 5th in the league in pass defense and 2nd in rush defense.

Do you think the Carolina Panthers have gotten lucky or are they a legitimate playoff contender?

Allen: To say that Carolina has gotten lucky is a slap in the face to their success. They have played extremely well and it’s great to see a franchise have success from not spending massive money in free agency. Most of their players are home grown talent, who they’ve drafted and developed. You don’t see that as much as we used to anymore. Denver and Seattle are two testaments of teams, who have been aggressive in free agency and benefited from it. Carolina is the complete opposite of that and you have to applaud them for sticking with their personnel for the most part.

That being said, the win against San Francisco was very overblown. If Vernon Davis doesn’t get hurt, they lose that game. Kaepernick has started to lean on Davis in recent weeks and has become his go-to receiver. If San Francisco has a healthy Davis and Michael Crabtree, they beat Carolina handily. That might sound a bit ludicrous, but San Francisco is much better than what they shown last Sunday. They’ll need to open up the playbook more because they were getting a bit predictable with the play calling.

Carolina is a legitimate playoff contender. Nobody can deny their success, although some of the success has to be contributed to a weak schedule and teams facing injuries. You look at teams like Atlanta, Green Bay, and Chicago that are teams going through injury-riddled seasons. Those three teams at full strength would likely beat Carolina. This is the perfect year, where they can sneak in and potentially make some noise. The harsh reality for Carolina fans has to be pointed towards their offense. Cam Newton can be dynamic and electrifying, but he’s very erratic with his intermediate to deep throws. The running game is still inconsistent, while the offensive line has allowed 26 sacks. This team will always be competitive, but it’s hard pressed to see them win a playoff game this year if they actually make it. Not to mention, Ron Rivera has always been a below average coach and should have been fired last year.

NFL Story of the Week

We really didn’t get to touch on this last week due to the Mid-Season recap and the Richie Incognito story but on Week 9’s edition of Monday Night Football, Aaron Rodgers was knocked out of the game in the Packers first offensive drive of the game against the Bears and Seneca Wallace couldn’t quite get them back into it. Last week Wallace went down in the 2nd drive against the Eagles and Scott Tolzien came in for the Packers. After losing two straight, the Packers will start their 3rd Quarterback in three weeks against the Giants at the Meadowlands. What do the Packers need to do in the absence of Aaron Rodgers and how much longer can they survive without him?

Allen: Obviously they need to continue to feature Eddie Lacy in their offensive game plan. He continues to be productive and will be a mainstay in Green Bay for years to come. They may want to include James Starks some more as well to keep the pressure off of Tolzien. That being said, I didn’t really see anything too negative from Green Bay’s offense on Sunday. Other than the turnovers, Tolzien made some nice throws and had the offense moving. He’ll need to protect the ball better and force defenses into not putting eight players in the box. That will be the next step in his development.

What the Packers need to do is simply play better defense. Nick Foles isn’t a superstar, yet the Packers allowed him to have a near perfect quarterback rating against them. Foles is still an average player that doesn’t react well to pressure. Green Bay did have three sacks, but they only hit Foles one other time. Then they allowed Riley Cooper to have 100 yards receiving on three catches with two of them going for touchdowns. That is inexcusable to let a mediocre player have a game like that against your defense. What happened to the standout Green Bay secondary?

Wasn’t this the secondary that limited A.J Green and Josh Gordon this season? I’m not sure where that’s gone in the past two weeks. Not to mention, they’ve allowed Matt Forte and LeSean McCoy to run all over them in the past two weeks. Even though those running backs are studs, you should be able to put eight players in the box and force the backup quarterbacks to beat you. Josh McCown and Nick Foles couldn’t have played better in their respective games. In the end, Green Bay’s past two losses fall on their defense. The entire unit needs to step up by forcing more turnovers and giving the offense more opportunities to succeed by giving them good field position.

Ace: I agree with you on many of your statements. Prior to the game I figured that Green Bay could go 3-1 in their games through Thanksgiving, they for sure needed to get two wins. They still have the road game against the Giants, home against Minnesota and they travel to Detroit on a short week for the Thanksgiving game.

Aaron Rodgers said on his weekly radio show on Tuesday that he’s shooting to be back for the Thanksgiving game, if not sooner. If he’s back for the Vikings game, this team will have a great shot in Detroit and from there could control their own destiny. I really liked what I saw out of Scott Tolzien this past Sunday. When Rodgers went down against Chicago I said that there were two things that needed to happen. The first is get the ball to Eddie Lacy. The second was the defense needs to play great football. The kind of great football they played for 3 quarters at Cincinnati and the great football they played against Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland and Minnesota leading up to the Bears game where they laid an absolute egg.

I was pleased to see Wallace and Tolzien do well and Lacy was getting hot. What happens next? Some pretty baffling play calling. Why would you have your inexperienced quarterback roll out to pass on 3rd and 1 when Lacy was running the ball so well. There were two instances on Sunday where it was 3rd and short and they opted to go with the air game and not the run game. It really made me angry.

Defensively, they have been terrible, and it hasn’t been their front seven playing bad. Their defensive backs have been horrid. Missing tackles, dropping interceptions, blown coverage and the long touchdowns to Desean Jackson and Riley Cooper made me want to vomit.

After running through the schedules of the 6 teams who will be in the Wild Card hunt, the Packers have the easiest schedule. Detroit very well could run the table and win their remaining games, but I don’t see them doing that. They will lose a game or two. If the Packers can win Sunday and get Rodgers back for the Minnesota game, their season won’t be anywhere near from over.

Allen: The Washington Redskins have dropped to 3-6.

Do you see them bouncing back from this and still challenging for first place in the NFC East similar to last year?

Ace: Quite simply, no. Their schedule is too difficult this year to do that. I see them having two to three wins on the rest of their schedule. They have home games against San Francisco, New York Giants, Kansas City and Dallas. They face Philadelphia, Atlanta and the Giants on the road. Sure, they do have three divisional games mixed in there but the odds are too stacked already and their defense has been awful.

When it comes to the NFC East, I’ve broken down the remaining schedules for the Top 13 teams in the NFC and I have the NFC East title coming down to the Week 17 match up where Dallas and Philadelphia will both be 8-7. I have Dallas winning the game, but it could really go either way. I’m confident that the Redskins won’t be apart of the playoff picture this year. Offensively, I believe they can hang with most teams in the NFC, but their defense is what will do them in this year.

Elite NFL Mind Challenge

We both went 3-2 last week, your two game lead is still intact. Over the last three weeks we’ve both matched each other’s record. Hopefully that will change this week! You sit at 31-19 and I am 29-21. Let’s make our picks!

The Ace’s Picks

Cleveland Browns (4-5) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (6-4)

With a win, the Browns would be a ½ game out of 1st place. I said earlier this season that the Cleveland Browns would finish at .500. I think they will still get to that point, but they will have to make up a few extra games. The Bengals are at home and absolutely need this win to turn around an unfortunate 2 game losing streak. They’ve lost the stranglehold on the #2 seed, winning will help get them back.

Winner: Cincinnati Bengals

Baltimore Ravens (4-5) vs. Chicago Bears (5-4)

This should be an interesting matchup. The Bears need to win to stay in the playoff hunt and as crazy as the Ravens season have been, they’re still in the thick of things in the AFC North. I’ll take Chicago since they’re at home, but I’m not confident in this pick.

Winner: Chicago Bears

San Francisco 49ers (6-3) vs. New Orleans Saints (7-2)

I’m not 100% sold on the 49ers anymore. It just seems when Colin Kaepernick gets in trouble he seems to struggle mightily. They’ve only defeated two teams with winning records, the Packers (34-28) and the Cardinals (32-20). In their three losses, they have scored a combined 19 points. The 49ers rank dead last in passing and I don’t see them improving this week.

Winner: New Orleans Saints

Kansas City Chiefs (9-0) vs. Denver Broncos (8-1)

Here it is the biggest matchup of the season. Denver should win this game, I wouldn’t expect for this to be a super high scoring matchup, but Kansas City is going to play hard and show they can hang toe to toe with the big bad Broncos. I like Denver in a 24-20 victory.

Winner: Denver Broncos

New England Patriots (7-2) vs. Carolina Panthers (6-3)

This should be a fun Monday night matchup. If this were in Foxboro, I could see Captain Cool and the Patriots running away with this. I think the crowd is going to be hot coming off of a big win at San Francisco. The bright lights will be on this stellar defense and Cameron Newton. I think the Panthers win late.

Winner: Carolina Panthers

Allen’s Picks

Cleveland Browns (4-5) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (6-4)

I’m expecting another close game for Cincinnati. Cleveland still has major quarterback issues, but they match up well with the Bengals. Joe Haden will shadow AJ Green all game long, which doesn’t bode well for Green. Cincinnati is banged up defensively and Andy Dalton continues to show why he’s still a mediocre quarterback. They need to go back to running the ball, which I believe they’ll do. Giovanni Bernard and Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis will carry them to a crucial victory.

Winner: Cincinnati Bengals

Baltimore Ravens (4-5) vs. Chicago Bears (5-4)

Baltimore seems to be on their last legs. The offensive line has opened zero holes for Ray Rice and Joe Flacco hasn’t shown he’s capable of taking control of the team. Chicago is going through serious issues on defense, especially with Charles Tillman possibly done for the year. This could be the matchup that Ray Rice needs to have a breakout game. Still Chicago remains to be gritty and Josh McCown will continue to play well. Chicago’s offense is playing extremely well right now and should carry them to victory.

Winner: Chicago Bears

San Francisco 49ers (6-3) vs. New Orleans Saints (7-2)

The demise of San Francisco is greatly exaggerated. A team loses by one point and now people don’t believe in them because two of their three best receiving options were injured? Once they get healthy, they’ll be the third best team in the NFC. This is a tough matchup against New Orleans, but they always play them well. Jimmy Graham is ailing and seems to need a week off to get back to being back to his dynamic self. I’m going with the upset, as San Francisco will catch them off guard and Frank Gore will have a huge game. Well-coached teams with great defenses don’t lose two in a row.

Winner: San Francisco 49ers

Kansas City Chiefs (9-0) vs. Denver Broncos (8-1)

Finally the game I’ve been waiting for. The night that Kansas City gets exposed for being the worst 9-0 team ever. This team has beaten nothing but “cupcake” teams for the past month or so. They have one of the worst passing attacks in the NFL and the offensive line allowed 26 sacks this season. Von Miller should have a big game and Kansas City’s offensive deficiencies will catch up to them. Don’t expect Peyton Manning to have a big night, but he’ll make timely throws to lead Denver towards another huge victory to get home field advantage.

Winner: Denver Broncos

New England Patriots (7-2) vs. Carolina Panthers (6-3)

Carolina won’t get exposed in this matchup, but I’m expecting Cam Newton to have a poor game. They’ll need to lean on the running game to keep Tom Brady off the field. Even though Brady has been off at times this year, he is starting to get into a rhythm now that Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski are healthy. Never pick against the Patriots coming off a bye.

Winner: New England Patriots

Ace: We’ve got some fun games this weekend! I will be over the moon ecstatic if the Packers can win in the Meadowlands and head home to face the Vikings with a 6-4 record. My fantasy teams have been slipping a bit, but I’m still projected to make the playoffs in my five money leagues. Listen back to Macho Men Radio from this past Tuesday night as C-Mac and I really vented about the Packers mistakes on Sunday. I plan on soaking in these great games this weekend. Have a great week!

Allen: Finally the primetime games minus the Thursday night game look great. We get to see teams that are playing at a high level in games that America can watch. My eyes are still bothering me from watching Tampa Bay and Miami outdo each other in personal foul penalties. I’d like to also tell everyone that I’m likely going to the Dolphins-Jets game in early December. I’ve realized that 70 percent of my friends are Jet fans and the team has been fun to watch this year. I’m excited to go if it happens. That is all for now, enjoy your Sunday as usual. I’ll stick to my motto and enjoy every hour, except when the Falcons play. Wait they play Tampa Bay this weekend? A win could actually happen, sounds fantastic!

You can follow Allen on Twitter @Allen_Strk and The Ace @TheAce18

You can hear The Ace on Macho Men Radio with C-Mac every Tuesday night on BlogTalkRadio at blogtalkradio.com/machomenradio