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: We’ve reached Week 9 in the 2013 NFL Season and I don’t know about you, but this season is absolutely flying by. The Super Bowl is in 96 days. 96 days! Now that you’re totally depressed, let’s look on the bright side; we’ve got 8 more weeks of exciting regular season action and judging by the teams right now that are currently in the hunt, the playoffs will be equally exciting. My team whooped on their rivals, the Minnesota Vikings in primetime and they are in primetime again with their longtime rivals, the Chicago Bears. It’s nice to have a stress-free (Well, minus my fantasy teams) Sunday afternoon, waiting for my team to be in the bright lights. Our teams are scheduled to meet up on December 8th for Sunday Night Football, but I’m thinking they may utilize the Flex Option.

Allen: How many more months until free agency begins? I’m far from depressed; so here is my quick morality lesson for the hardcore football fans. You shouldn’t get depressed over something you can’t control. There are times I wish I was 260 pounds and can play defensive end for the Falcons, but that’s not possible. You have to get over it and simply look for other things to enjoy. Fantasy football is a nice alternative. Anyway not trying to get emotional, I’m still always delighted to talk football. The Monday night game was absolutely fantastic, since I’ve always been a fan of defensive slugfests. It’s sad that not many people appreciate good defense and offenses having to earn every yard. Hopefully we get more games like that for Monday night because it has been missing for a while now. Anyway let’s get on with the questions.

Ace: If we take a look ahead to the playoffs for the NFC, the Cowboys should win the East, the Saints should win the South, the Packers should win the North and the Seahawks and 49ers will both come out of the West as the Division Champion and Wild Card team.

Who do you think the top contenders are for the 2nd Wild Card spot in the NFC?

Allen: It will probably come down to Detroit and Carolina. Even though Arizona’s defense is playing at an elite level this year, the offense just isn’t good enough. The offensive line is among the worst in the league and Carson Palmer is averaging nearly two interceptions per game. They will be in the hunt, but I can’t see them winning nine games to earn the sixth seed. The same goes for St. Louis without Sam Bradford. St. Louis fans must be tired hearing about the future. They always seem to be on the rise, but then a major injury occurs.

There aren’t really any other teams in the NFC. Robert Griffin is starting to look like his old self, but Washington’s defense isn’t good enough. They are too behind right now in the wild card race and only have a shot at winning their division. The same goes for both the Eagles and Giants. The NFC has been a disappointment this year for the most part. In our NFL preview, I said that I was so impressed by the depth of quality teams in the NFC. That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

It seems a bit premature to write off Chicago, but they are going to fall too far behind. This is probably the worst Chicago defense I’ve ever seen in my thirteen years of watching football. With Jay Cutler out, this team won’t hang in shootouts. Detroit seems the most likely team to get the last seed because of how balanced they are. Carolina is a juggernaut right now, since all of their victories were against weak teams for the most part. I’m still waiting to see more consistency in Cam Newton and their offense as a whole, before becoming a firm believer in them.

NFL Story of the Week

The big story this week is about Dez Bryant. Dallas imploded against Detroit and ended up losing a game, where they seemed to be in complete control of in the second half. Bryant had a few outbursts on the sidelines that are well-documented. How do you feel about Bryant's outbursts and is he becoming a cancer in Dallas?

Ace: I like how it’s blown out of proportion when receivers blow up on their quarterbacks and coaches but when quarterbacks do the same thing, it’s not seen as much of a problem. I guess it’s because most wide receivers are looked at as diva’s who think it’s all about them (See: Owens, Terrell and Johnson, Chad {FKA: Ochocinco, Chad}).

I watched this game in between naps on Sunday, but going into the game he was quoted from ESPN Dallas by saying this “"I believe I can do whatever he can do’, referring to Lions receiver Calvin Johnson. Watching this game unfold and seeing Bryant lay into Tony Romo on the sidelines, when your team is controlling the game pretty well, I scoffed at the comments that he said about Johnson. Calvin Johnson wouldn’t do that, he would go out and let his play do the talking. Johnson did that with 14 receptions for 329 yards and 1 Touchdown. 7 yards shy of the single game receiving record.

My biggest gripe was when Dez Bryant was jawing with veteran tight end Jason Witten. You could read Witten’s lips and judging by his body language as well, he was telling Bryant that the game is not over, there is time still on the clock and anything can happen.

Call it passion or call it selfishness, call it whatever you want. I can’t stand when a grown man playing a game that millions of us would love to do (I would do it for a practice squad salary, by the way) starts to act like a 4 year old pouting and whining on the sidelines. I don’t like the Dallas Cowboys and that makes me dislike them even more.

Allen: This is another case of the media blowing up a situation. Everyone knows Dez Bryant is far from the most mature player in the NFL. He’s had psychological issues throughout the early part of his career. It’s still an issue, which is something that needs to be fixed. You can’t be getting into heated arguments publicly with two of the most respected players on your team. Jason Witten and DeMarcus Ware are the leaders besides Tony Romo. It’s extremely disrespectful to put your hand in any player’s face, let alone in Witten’s face.

Despite the incident on Sunday, Bryant isn’t anywhere close to a diva. He wants to win and if you saw the close up look on the sidelines, he was shouting words of encouragement to Romo. Bryant is an elite wide receiver, who has to be considered the second best wide receiver after Calvin Johnson. There isn’t a wide receiver more physical in the league than Bryant, not to mention his breakaway speed.

Of course, he needs to tone it down and act more like a professional. Regardless of what the conversation is about, you can’t explode like that on the sidelines to the point where thee entire world recognizes it. Dallas is still in good shape to make the playoffs and that should have been the realistic goal for them going into the season. Bryant is a major asset in the process of earning that goal and I’m sure he’ll tone it down, as the season goes on. He’s too good a player to be considered a cancer. Don’t expect this setback to derail Bryant’s stellar season.

Allen: Cincinnati is on a quiet four game winning streak right now. You've been praising them for the past few years now.

With Reggie Wayne out for the season in Indianapolis and New England looking shaky, do you think Cincinnati is the biggest threat to Denver right now?

Ace: I think you’re onto something. Cincinnati is the biggest threat to Denver heading to the Meadowlands in February. This team could easily be 7-1 but they fell in the season opener to Chicago in the final minutes. They still have yet to had their bye, which is Week 12 and until then they travel to Miami and Baltimore and then come home to host Cleveland. Miami should be the toughest game of that stretch and it’s tonight. If they can escape Miami with a victory, I firmly believe they will be 9-2 going into their bye.

They have already defeated Green Bay and New England at home, and when their defense shows up it is stifling. Teams playing at Cincinnati in December and January will have their work cut out for them. The Bengals are allowing 225 yards passing and 97 yards rushing per game, which is 11th and 8th, respectively, in the NFL.

Offensively, Andy Dalton is sitting on a big year. He’s on pace for 4,500 yards and 32 TD’s. If he can surpass 4,000 yards, this team will have won at least 12 games. I’m not saying Cincinnati is going to dethrone Denver as the favorite in the AFC, but if they continue playing the way they are, they will be the #2 seed in the AFC and Denver needs to hope they can sweep the season series with Kansas City and they get the #1 seed, otherwise it would more than likely set up a Divisional playoff game where Cincinnati would host Denver and that would be a very tough challenge.

Elite NFL Mind Challenge

For the 2nd straight week, you went 4-1 as I went 3-2! You now own a two game lead on me! You sit at 27-13 and I am 25-15. We don’t have the greatest games on tap this weekend so here are this week’s mediocre picks!

The Ace’s Picks

Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) vs. Miami Dolphins (3-4)

Cincinnati is starting to get hot. I think they will be a very scary team if all aspects click, all aspects clicked last week and even though it was against the Jets, they still put up 49 points with Andy Dalton throwing 5 TD’s, none to AJ Green. Scary.

Winner: Cincinnati Bengals

New Orleans Saints (6-1) vs. New York Jets (4-4)

On paper, these two teams have .500 or better records. You don’t win football games on paper.

Winner: New Orleans Saints

Baltimore Ravens (3-4) vs. Cleveland Browns (3-5)

I can see this game ending with a combined score of about 19 points. Baltimore squeaks by in a low scoring affair.

Winner: Baltimore Ravens

San Diego Chargers (4-3) vs. Washington Redskins (2-5)

I’m starting RG3 this week with Andrew Luck on a BYE and this game is absolutely a must win for the ‘Skins. Remember, they were 3-6 last year before winning 7 in a row and making the playoffs. Honestly, being that they’re in the NFC East, it is very possible, because the winner of this division could very will win 8 games. RG3 rallies late.

Winner: Washington Redskins

Chicago Bears (4-3) vs. Green Bay Packers (5-2)

With Detroit on a bye, this is Green Bay’s opportunity to take a full one game lead on the division. They’ve had two dominant wins against Cleveland and Minnesota. The Packers look ahead and realize that it’s a very strong possibility that they could be 9-2 and Detroit could be 8-3 going into their Thanksgiving matchup.

Winner: Green Bay Packers

Allen’s Picks

Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) vs. Miami Dolphins (3-4)

It’s been very disheartening to see Miami fall off like this. They seemed to be the feel good story in the AFC in September. Now the team can’t protect Ryan Tannehill and the defense is on the field for too long. Everyone knows how good Cincinnati’s pass rush is and now Andy Dalton is finally starting to be productive. I’m not sure how anyone can pick against Cincinnati here.

Winner: Cincinnati Bengals

New Orleans Saints (6-1) vs. New York Jets (4-4)

A few weeks ago, the Ryan bowl seemed to be a big deal. Now the Jets are coming off a fluke win and an embarrassment in Cincinnati. New Orleans is firing on all cylinders right now and Geno Smith will be forced into some turnovers against New Orleans’ blitz happy scheme. It will be another long day for Jet fans.

Winner: New Orleans Saints

Baltimore Ravens (3-4) vs. Cleveland Browns (3-5)

The schedule is so bad this week that we have to cover this game. If Brian Hoyer were healthy, Cleveland would still be exciting to watch. This game is going to be full of turnovers and ugly play from both quarterbacks. Baltimore wins by forcing more turnovers and making the most of those turnovers.

Winner: Baltimore Ravens

San Diego Chargers (4-3) vs. Washington Redskins (2-5)

This is a must win game for the Redskins. These are the home games that they have to win, if they want to start a run towards winning the division. If they can continue to get Alfred Morris going and the defense can get off the field on third downs, this should be a win. San Diego has played better than expected, but this isn’t a good matchup for them at all. I’m expecting Griffin, Morris, and the new stud at tight end Jordan Reed to have big games.

Winner: Washington Redskins

Chicago Bears (4-3) vs. Green Bay Packers (5-2)

If only Jay Cutler was healthy, this game would be game of the week. Instead this will most likely be a one-sided beating. I’ve admitted to being wrong about Green Bay. While I thought they were going to be a playoff team, they seemed to have too many flaws to make a Super Bowl run. With a stout secondary and tremendous running game led by Eddie Lacy, they are primed for a Super Bowl run. Aaron Rodgers should have a field day against Chicago’s porous defense.

Winner: Green Bay Packers

Allen: I’ve complained about a few weeks not featuring enough compelling matchups. This week features zero compelling games, how lovely. The Ryan bowl could be exciting, but New Orleans seems to be unstoppable right now. It’s hard to see the Jets’ secondary limiting Drew Brees, along with Geno Smith being able to throw the ball efficiently. Unless Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell can keep the chains moving and keep the Saints’ offense off the field, the Jets don’t stand a chance on Sunday. This just seems to be another week in football, where the good to great teams pad their record and the bad teams continue to falter.

Ace: There aren’t a bunch of must see games this week, which means I can probably get some morning yard work done on Sunday and be done by the start of the 2nd half to most of the first set of games. I’m looking forward to the game tonight to see Miami test Cincinnati…or will it be vice versa? It’s strange not to watch my team on Sunday afternoons, which will be the second straight week in which the Packers will be on primetime, this time on Monday Night Football. Go check out Tuesday night’s Macho Men Radio where C-Mac and I talk about the Packers/Vikings game from Sunday night and how the Vikings blew it by not trading Jared Allen. Next week Allen and I will revisit our NFL Preview Article and Predictions and see how our prognostications are holding up, as well as do our traditional questions. We will see you next week!

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