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: If you would of told me that I’d be sitting down to write this week’s article with you and that both of our respective clubs would be 1-2, I would not have believed that. I’d have believed that my club would be more likely to be that 1-2 club, but not your Falcons. We saw a blockbuster trade last week, where Trent Richardson was shipped to the Colts in exchange for a first round pick in next year’s draft. The Browns are trying to ‘Bust for Bridgewater’. A bit of housekeeping, I won’t be here the next two weeks. I’ll be getting married on Saturday and be in the Dominican Republic for a week. Our pal Mike Ayers will be filling in for me. Allen, we’ve got a layover in Atlanta, do you want me to knock some sense into the Falcons?

Allen: That won’t be needed, the smart fans know why. It was another typical head-scratching week in the NFL. Many people thought teams like the Redskins, Giants, and Vikings were going to pick up their first wins. That wasn’t the case with all three defenses getting shredded on an equal level. The one major difference was that the Giants offensive line felt the wrath of Carolina’s nasty defensive line. It was somewhat of a dull week with both primetime games being very lackluster. Let’s get into the questions because I’m already yawning from talking about last Sunday.

Ace: I’m definitely going to eat crow on this, but the Dallas Cowboys look to be the favorite in the NFC East after the first three weeks.

How will the loss of Anthony Spencer for the season affect their defense and the team’s hopes at a division title?

Allen: Just remember who said that the Cowboys were going to win the division? It’s still early, but they look to be the only stable team in the NFC East. Dallas fans have to be devastated by the loss of Anthony Spencer. After being an inconsistent player for most of his career, he finally put it all together last season with 11 sacks. He earned the big contract and now has to miss the rest of the season. DeMarcus Ware will go back to constantly facing double teams now that Spencer is done for the season.

It will be on players like George Selvie to step up, as a supporting pass rusher to help Ware. He has two sacks in three games so far, which is a good start for him. Dallas’ defense is criminally underrated with many playmakers. They have so much talent that the loss of Spencer shouldn’t derail their defense. Spencer is talented, but he’s nowhere near as valuable as Ware, Brandon Carr, or Sean Lee.

I’m still expecting them to win the division, especially with how poorly the Redskins and Giants are playing. The buzz about Philadelphia has simmered down due to Michael Vick going back to his turnover ways and the Eagles’ defense still playing poorly (Didn’t I predict that would happen a few weeks ago?). Everything points to Dallas winning the division by default, due to being an all-around solid team. You don’t see many flaws when looking at Dallas’ personnel on both sides of the ball. If DeMarco Murray can stay healthy, he could very well make Dallas into a potential dark horse when the playoffs begin.

NFL Story of the Week

The big news was made last Friday when Aldon Smith was arrested for DUI at 7am. The 49ers allowed him to play on Sunday and announced that he would be checking into a rehab program where he might be gone for at least a month. Should Smith have been allowed to play on Sunday, what penalties will he face and how will the 49ers be affected on the field?

Ace: First and foremost, I believe that Jim Harbaugh and the coaching staff made the absolute wrong call in this situation. Aldon Smith should not have been playing or suited up to play. This young man obviously has a problem and needs serious help. If they were concerned for his well-being and did not want him to not be with the team for his personal safety, then you bring him in and deactivate him but keep him on the sidelines. There’s absolutely no reason that he should have been in the lineup on Sunday. It was a competitive advantage and Harbaugh and the whole team knew by having Smith on the field that he would help things out on the field. They should all be ashamed of themselves.

Smith’s punishment should be four to six games after his rehab is over with. It just seems like he needs to get himself figured out before football. We’ve seen so many of these stories end tragically and Smith should be lucky he’s still alive and that tree he hit wasn’t a school bus full of kids.

Right now the 49ers are 1-2, which marks the first time since Jim Harbaugh has been head coach that the 49ers are below .500. They have a very tough test this week with the St. Louis Rams and could potentially face a 1-3 hole. Their schedule doesn’t get any easier. They have back-to-back home games against Houston and Arizona. We know Houston could go off at any moment by putting up big numbers and the Cardinals always play San Francisco close. They have some work to do to not face a tougher situation since Seattle is the front-runner in this division right now.

Allen: It only seemed like a year ago when everyone was raving about Von Miller and Aldon Smith being the top young pass rushers in the league. While both of them were productive last year, they’ve been involved with various incidents off the field. They have had their run-ins with the law, which has now played in a contributing factor into missing games. Miller is currently serving a six game suspension, while Smith will miss at least four games and possibly more.

Nobody can deny that San Francisco handled this situation poorly by playing him on Sunday. The message that they sent out was basically were not worried about your health, just go out there and sack Andrew Luck. Jim Harbaugh is an excellent coach, but I always had questions about his character. He tends to over react through many parts during a game, along with constantly making the Monday morning headlines. It was just reported this week that Frank Gore is frustrated with his lack of carries. How could you blame him when he is arguably the most talented player within their offense?

Obviously the loss of Smith will impact the defense, but you rather have him healthy and mentally right for the latter part of the season. Everyone knows that he’s the best pass rusher on the team, but Justin Smith is still the player that makes the pass rush effective. The attention he commands makes everyone around him better. When he’s healthy, he makes that defense an elite unit.

It has been a tough start for San Francisco at 1-2 headed into a tough game at St. Louis on a short week. They have taken hits with Michael Crabtree hurt in the off-season, then Vernon Davis and now Aldon Smith missing time. All three of those players were essential parts towards their Super Bowl run last season. The defense is still an above average unit, but they’ll need the role players to step up in Smith’s absence to beat top-tier competition like Houston.

Allen: Obviously we missed out on discussing the trade about Trent Richardson.

What are your thoughts on the trade? How will it affect the Browns and Colts long-term?

Ace: I was blown away by this decision. Not only did the Browns select Richardson in last year’s draft, they traded additional picks to move up one spot to get him. Credit Peter King’s MMQB for this little nugget from then NFL Network analyst and current Browns GM Mike Lombardi (04/23/2012):

“I believe the safest pick in the draft, beyond Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, is Alabama running back Trent Richardson.”

It’s very odd that their current GM said those words and they're letting him go. There has to be more to it. Sure they may be on the 'Bust for Bridgewater' but now they have two picks in the first round of next years draft. I'm not sure on the running back depth that they will have but Willis McGahee won't be the answer. 

Defensively, I really like where the Browns are at, they just need help on the offensive side of the ball. Jordan Cameron is looking like he will be a star and if they can add a big time wide out to go along with the likes of Teddy Bridgewater (potentially) and sign a free agent running back in the offseason. There are three bigger name running backs that could potentially step into the lead back spot in Cleveland. The biggest 2014 Free Agent name is Darren McFadden. Two other guys currently serving as backups, who would flourish in a starting role are Detroit back Joique Bell and Houston backup Ben Tate.

Again, it baffles me that they would let Richardson go after not even playing 20 games for the club, but then again, its the Browns.

Elite NFL Mind Challenge

Last week The Ace went 0-5, enough said. Allen went 3-2 and now has a lead over The Ace! Overall The Ace is 8-7 and Allen is 9-6. Here are this week’s picks!

Ace’s Picks

San Francisco 49ers (1-2) vs. St. Louis Rams (1-2)

San Francisco is banged up, missing Aldon Smith and Colin Kaepernick is coming back down to earth. They face a team that did not beat them last season. I think the Rams squeak this one out at home.

Winner: St. Louis Rams

Chicago Bears (3-0) vs. Detroit Lions (2-1)

This is the battle for first place in the NFC North! I think Calvin Johnson has a big game with Reggie Bush, as they are the difference makers in this one.

Winner: Detroit Lions

Seattle Seahawks (3-0) vs. Houston Texans (2-1)

Seattle is a different team on the road, but it’s hard to see the Texans keeping up with their fast paced defense.

Winner: Seattle Seahawks

New England Patriots (3-0) vs. Atlanta Falcons (1-2)

Atlanta needs this game. They can’t start 1-3 with the possibility of the Saints being 4-0. Atlanta wins. Barely.

Winner: Atlanta Falcons

Miami Dolphins (3-0) vs. New Orleans Saints (3-0)

I really like Miami’s defense, but I don’t think they’ll be able to keep up with Drew Brees and his offense.

Winner: New Orleans Saints

Allen’s Picks

San Francisco 49ers (1-2) vs. St. Louis Rams (1-2)

This is arguably the toughest pick to make out of the five games. St. Louis is always tough at home and matchup well with the 49ers. Obviously San Francisco is in disarray with Colin Kaepernick struggling, Frank Gore complaining about a lack of carries, and Aldon Smith entering rehab. They are still talented though and could receive a much-needed boost with Vernon Davis coming back. I can’t see them losing three games in a row against a team that has no identity offensively.

Winner: San Francisco 49ers

Chicago Bears (3-0) vs. Detroit Lions (2-1)

Who would have thought that this would have an early season showdown? I’m not surprised by Detroit’s early success because most people knew that they would be much improved this year. I’m still concerned by their secondary not being able to stop most passing attacks. We could see a shootout with Jay Cutler outgunning Matthew Stafford.

Winner: Chicago Bears

Seattle Seahawks (3-0) vs. Houston Texans (2-1)

Houston looks to be the appealing pick, but how can anyone pick against Seattle right now? They are firing on all cylinders and Percy Harvin isn’t even healthy. Houston should bounce back and make this competitive, but they simply don’t have enough offensively unless Arian Foster and Ben Tate have big games. Andre Johnson hasn’t been healthy and he has to visit “Sherman Island”. This should be a very physical game that will be won by the quarterback that isn’t turning the ball over on a weekly basis.

Winner: Seattle Seahawks

New England Patriots (3-0) vs. Atlanta Falcons (1-2)

I’m not sure if there is any team that is more overrated than the Patriots right now. They are playing well, but the schedule has fed them some early wins. Now they get their first true test, even though the record may not show that. Atlanta needs this win and I’m expecting them to be much more aggressive. They played it safe and it cost them against Miami. Unless Rob Gronkowski plays, I’m expecting New England to get a rude awakening.

Winner: Atlanta Falcons

Miami Dolphins (3-0) vs. New Orleans Saints (3-0)

Finally a Monday night game that should be entertaining for four quarters! I’ve been an advocate for Miami ever since July when looking at all 32 teams. They were a fifth seed in my eyes and now they could even ascend to winning the divison. It’s always hard to win in New Orleans though, especially with Cameron Wake not being 100 percent. New Orleans could very well be 1-2 right now, but they are finishing games and the defense looks much better.

Winner: New Orleans Saints

Allen: I’m rejuvenated for this week with the schedule being much better. Whenever the primetime games look good, it makes me much more energized going into the week. St. Louis and San Francisco had two memorable games from last year, which St. Louis got the better of them. Then we get to see Matt Ryan and Tom Brady duel on Sunday night. What may shock people the most is that there will be a game on Monday night that features two very good teams. Miami and New Orleans should be a great matchup featuring two teams that weren’t being talked about much in the off-season.

Ace: There was no Macho Men Radio this past week due to my wedding prep. That's it for me! I'll be back in 3 weeks to talk NFL and I'll be doing it as a married man! Enjoy the next couple weekends!

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