NFL Q&A with Allen and The Ace is a weekly Wednesday 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 TJRsports.com editor-in-chief, John Canton will also ask a question for both guys.
Ace: Welcome to this weeks installment of Allen and The Ace. I would have liked to start by saying we both watched our teams win last week, but that isn’t the case for one of us. The Falcons narrowly escaped the Buccaneers and the Packers didn’t narrowly escape a whooping by the New York Football Giants. It’s one of my favorite weeks though, Packers/Vikings Week. A week where I’ll hear about how much the Packers suck and when I’m at the bar on Sunday at halftime of the game either the bar will empty out or begin to fill with Viking fans, if the game is close. Next week Allen and I will make our final predictions to who we think will be in the playoffs and win the end of the year NFL Honors. Turkey Day is in our rearview mirror and now it’s time to bring on Christmas and what bigger Christmas gift could I ask for than a dominating Packers win over the Vikings and a Bears loss toSeattle! How was your Thanksgiving, pal?
Allen: Thanksgiving was fun and I enjoyed a few good early games when I had time to watch. Then the night game massacre was a joy to watch, as the Jets fans that were saying they were going to pull the upset on the Patriots went to sleep early. It was a joyful holiday but now I am in playoff race mode. For the first time in a while, I’m happy of a Falcons close win. Usually I get annoyed but Tampa Bay is a good team and beating them on the road is huge. I’m very happy with the win and it looks like Atlanta will get home field advantage, which I’m skeptical of because the same thing happened in 2010. I’m not going to finish the rest because I can picture Ace already giggling over there from what happened when the Falcons were the 1st seed of the NFC. Let’s get into the questions, before I make a joke on how the Packers can’t solve the Giants.
Ace: On Thanksgiving we saw another apparent dirty play by Lions Defensive Tackle, Ndamuknog Suh when he rolled and kicked Texans QB Matt Schaub in the groin. Suh is a very good defensive tackle, but he has been dubbed The Dirtiest Player in the NFL.
What should Suh's punishment be for this uncalled for act and despite being a very good player, would you want Suh on your team with these constant problems?
Allen: It has been an odd year and half for Suh. Who can forget in 2010 when he had 10 sacks in his rookie season and was getting main stream popularity. I'm not sure if I've ever seen a defensive tackle get that much popularity since Warren Sapp with the media coverage and jersey sales he received. It was clear that the sophomore slump hit him last season with just four sacks and not creating the same havoc that he did a year ago. Even though Suh only has four and half sacks, he's having a much more productive year with creating pressure and making more plays in the backfield. I'm not sure if I even classify him as a very good player because he still has games where you don't really notice him. In terms of being dirty, there is no denying it and you are blind if you don't think he's dirty. Suh has shown to be dirty since the minute he stepped on the field in preseason in 2010 when he literally took Jake Delhomme by the collar and slammed him down illegally. Some people may love Suh's violent style and I can appreciate any hard hits but they aren't clean. His tendency to grab a player's neck is becoming a problem because it could lead to serious injury issues. Let's not forget Suh has had issues with the law with a few traffic accidents including one just yesterday along with his infamous stomp last Thanksgiving against the Packers that drew a one game suspension. Suh may be a great talent but this isn't a player I would want on my team. Unless you are an elite player, you can't get away with the issues. Why do you think players like Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, and Chad Johnson had such long careers despite being constant nuisances even though it was more about character than being dirty, They were among the top receivers in the league. Suh is going to need to start dominating again like he did in 2010 to make me change my mind. For now, he's just another DeAngelo Hall or Antonio Cromarite where the issues exceed the actual talent.
Ace: I can compare Suh to another defensive tackle that was pretty classless on and off the field and that’s Albert Haynesworth. If Suh keeps driving (no pun intended) down the same path as Haynesworth, he might find himself out of football at age 31. He’s got loads of talent, just needs to get his head straight. As much as I'm a big fan of talent, I'd rather keep players that are troublesome or all about themselves off of my favorite football team. Infact, the Packers tend to stay away from those players. Brett Favre wanted Randy Moss before he went to New England and they didn't even budge for Brett.
Allen: We've talked about many teams that are on the borderline the past few weeks but now its time to talk about the best of the best right now. Atlanta and Houston have been winning games in any way, shape, or form this year.
Right now between those two teams, what team can you see at least making it to the Super Bowl?
Ace: In the next few weeks both teams will play teams in which they will prove if they belong amongst the best of the best. Houston started off the season 5-0 before being destroyed at home by Green Bay. Since then they’ve won five straight in a few defensive battles and a couple high scoring overtime games. Houston has proved to me that they can win on offense and defense. The loss of Brian Cushing on defense was a huge blow, but they really haven’t missed a beat. Matt Schaub is playing like a man that wants to get out there and show the world that he could have gotten past Baltimore in the playoffs last year. Andre Johnson is still one of the best wide receivers in football and Arian Foster is a threat to score anytime he touches the ball. We’ll see a potential AFC Championship Game preview two Monday’s from now when the Texans travel to New England. I heard an interesting fact this past week, and it’s not a knock on the Falcons, but until they played Tampa Bay, none of their first 10 opponents had a winning record when they faced off. That being said, Atlanta is 7-1 in games decided by 7 points or less and what that tells me is that they’re closing out games by playing tough defense and they have a clutch kicker in Matt Bryant who the team has faith in and isn’t afraid to be down by two points and let him kick the game winner. Last year the Philadelphia Eagles were 2-5 in games decided by 7 points or less, and they finished 8-8. Imagine if that record were reversed, they’d have been a playoff team. Atlanta has all the weapons to make a Super Bowl run, but they’re playing in the NFC, an incredibly tough task when you have teams like San Francisco, Chicago, Green Bay and New York standing in your way. The Texans may have an easier road to the playoffs by playing in the AFC, but until they can knock off the Patriots, which we’ll see in two weeks, they might not be the team in the AFC. Atlanta would be my pick, especially if the road is through the Georgia Dome.
Allen: I’m starting to get worried about Houston a bit. Even when Jonathan Joseph is in, the secondary has struggled at times. Joseph has struggled at times this year compared to playing at a Pro Bowl level in 2011. It has to be positive that Matt Schaub has been playing at a high level and not relying on the running game to do all the work. He’s starting to make more plays even though I’ve noticed he’s struggles against pressure. When Chicago or Detroit brought pressure in recent televised games, Schaub would throw wild passes that was picked off on more than one occasion. I’m starting to sour on Houston being the best team in the AFC until their secondary starts playing better. Sure they have J.J Watt and a good front four, but it seems like it doesn’t take too long to complete passes on Houston’s secondary. People criticize Atlanta’s defense yet they are 6th in the league in allowed points per game. They may lack major names but Atlanta’s defense consistently makes enough stops to help Atlanta win. The one advantageHouston has is that they play in a much weaker AFC, while Atlanta is in a very tough position dealing with the great crop of NFC teams. I’m still going to say Atlanta has a better shot because Houston is going to have serious issues against New England and Denver’s passing attacks. Atlanta is more complete than Houston as a team and seem to be more believable as a Super Bowl champion with their play makers.
Ace: With Green Bay and Chicago fighting for the NFC North, one of those teams will be the #5 Seed in the NFC. There are three teams that will contend for the #6 Seed and they are the Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Washington Redskins. The Vikings, Cowboys and Saints are in the mix too, but the Vikings schedule and the Cowboys inconsistency rules them out for me. The Saints could contend, but have a tough schedule and terrible defense. Washington has a favorable schedule,Tampa Bay has a tougher schedule and the Seahawks are a completely different team away from CenturyLink Field.
As of right now, who is your pick for the final playoff spot in the NFC?
Allen: The pick I had to get the last seed in the NFC wild card from last month was the Seattle Seahawks but I'm really concerned about them. It seems very likely that Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner could be out for 4 games. That is pretty much missing the entire playoff chase right there and they have played an integral part of the Seahawks defensive success. If they lose those two players, they are probably finished. Seattle is a solid team but they still can't win on the road and they are losing two of their top players in the secondary.Seattle will start to fade away if the suspensions stand. New Orleans is a threat but the schedule is just too much for them to handle. The losses to Carolina, Kansas City, and Washington (at home) are coming back to haunt them. You hear the same lame quote every year, every game counts but it couldn't be more true. New Orleans clearly started using that mindset when October started. The same goes for the Vikings and Redskins, even though both teams have to like the improvement they made this season. The schedules are too difficult even though Washington has a slight chance to make a run over the Vikings because Robert Griffin is that much of a game changer like we saw against Dallas. It comes down to Dallas and Tampa Bay with me, which sounds shocking. Dallas is better than people give them credit for, but they are just too inconsistent. They could easily blowout the Eagles by 30 but then lose to Bengals by 17 on the road in a crucial game the next week. They are just too shaky and seem very beat up with Bruce Carter being the latest key player on defense gone for the season. That makes my pick the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which is shaky with the tough schedule but I'm a believer. The below average secondary could be their downfall but they really have two difficult games left. I'm expecting Atlanta to clinch a spot for home field advantage by Week 17, which gives Tampa Bay a pass. Other than Broncos and Saints, they don't have any major tests. The offense has been firing lately despite Doug Martin being shut down by the Falcons front seven last game. I'm expecting a big performance against Denver with their backs against the wall especially after letting a winnable game against the Falcons slip away like that. Tampa Bay would be my pick right now for the 6th seed and I'm expecting nobody happy to see the Bucs sneak into the playoffs based on how dangerous they are.
Ace: If I had to pick, after seeing the latest from the Seahawks, my two most likely would be Washington (if they can win 4 of their last 5, which is very do-able) or Tampa Bay. I’d hate to have Tampa Bay in my division, they seem to have a nice nucleus for the future and I wouldn't be surprised if they become a favorite within the next couple of years.
Allen: I'm positive that this will be the last time they are brought up this year unless a miracle happens but it's a major headline. The New York Jets were embarrassed for about the 4th time this year. They have lost stars to injuries, but now it seems like they have lost the locker room. Also, quick shout out for losing their retired drunk fireman mascot that maybe 2% of America actually cared about.
That being said, if you were coaching the Jets right now would you start Tim Tebow now since the Jets are pretty much playing for 2013?
Ace: My short answer is simply no. You mentioned injuries and losing the locker room, that’s not about Mark Sanchez, it’s about coaching and the general manager. Currently, Sanchez has his second highest completion percentage of his 4 year NFL career and when it comes to injuries and team depth, it’s not Sanchez’s fault that the team has absolutely no backup talent or depth. He has no wide receivers to throw to, aside from Dustin Keller who’s a tight end. His coach needs to shut up and make sure his team does the same, GM Mike Tannenbaum needs to go out and scour the free agent market in the offseason and draft well and most importantly, they needs to crap or get off the pot with Tim Tebow. You don’t pull the plug on Sanchez midseason unless he’s hurt or he’s performing where it makes JaMarcus Russell look good. If you want Tebow as your starter next season, cut or trade Sanchez. If you’re going to stick with Sanchez, cut or trade Tebow. It’s not all the Jets fault, Tim Tebow could have taken a trade toJacksonville, but decided to go to New York. If this was just a publicity stunt and the Jets really had no other reason to trade for the guy aside from selling a few jerseys and being at the top of every ESPN program, then it totally worked. They need to choose though: Sanchez or Tebow and whomever they choose, they need to let the other one go.
Allen: You are questioning if it wasn’t a publicity stunt or not? It was a publicity stunt since day one without a doubt. I’m always laughing at Jet fans that think Tebow was actually brought in to improve the offense. You bring a player that get five to seven snaps a game to improve your offense? It has become a joke overall and it was just a publicity stunt just to get fans along with jersey sales up. In terms of who should start right now, I’m going to disagree. Now I feel bad for any quarterback that doesn’t have a great supporting cast like Mark Sanchez but seriously what is going to change? He’s still struggling three games out of a four week stretch and nothing seems to be improving. I’ve never been a Tebow believer but with five games left, what do Jets have to lose? They aren’t going to make a playoff push so why not try the guy that could spark some interest. Sanchez isn’t going to improve this year with this terrible supporting cast. I’d give Tebow a shot to work around this and to see what he can prove. I’m not sure what to do in the off season but there is nothing Sanchez is going to offer in the last five games. The 2012 Jets are a dead team, it’s time to spark some life into the team and try something new.
Ace: By the way, the fact that 'Fireman Ed' made headlines about him leaving Twitter and no longer attending Jets games makes me sick to my stomach. Isn't there anything else to report!? I'll stop before I go on an unneeded rant.
John Canton: It sees like a lot of teams are headed into a downward spiral as we head towards the final five weeks of the season.
How many head coaches are going to be fired in the offseason?
Allen: It’s going to be a decent amount which shouldn’t surprise anyone. Andy Reid is a shoe in to be fired along with Romeo Crennel. No explanation is needed, just look into their records and look into the predictions people thought those respective teams were going to have. Many people had both teams winning at least 9 games. The other coaches will probably be Ron Rivera even though Carolina is playing better. Carolina is going to look into a new regime with their GM being fired a month ago and Rivera has been a poor coach. Jason Garrett will be fired as long as Dallas doesn’t make the playoffs. Garrett has made several poor time management and personnel decisions late in the game. I’m going to pick four coaches that are likely going to be fired in the off season. Dennis Allen of Oakland is on the border line but I think Oakland is finally going to realize that they need to keep a coach over a year to actually succeed.
Ace: I made the joke before the season started about Dennis Allen being fired. Would it surprise me? No. Do they need to give him more than one year? Yes. I agree with you on Romeo Crennel and Andy Reid. I do think Ron Rivera is more cut out to coach defense, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he stayed on another year. I can see Jason Garrett continue to coach the Dallas Cowboys, but you know deep down Jerry Jones wants Rob Ryan as the head coach of his football team. He wants a run-your-mouth style of coach just like Rob’s brother, Rex. One name that you didn’t mention that I’d be surprised to be coaching next season is Norv Turner of the Chargers. There’s no way Norv comes into the 2013 season with his job. I’m sure we’ll get another surprise name in there too, but those are the names that come to mind.
Ace: This is Week Thirteen of our ‘Elite Football Mind Challenge’. Allen went 4-1 last week while I went 2-3 which puts me 3 games back. Allen is 41-19 and I am 38-22. Time for me to turn it around!
Minnesota (6-5) at Green Bay (7-4)
Aaron Rodgers and company were embarrassed on national television on Sunday night and just like the Vikings playoff hopes; the moustaches will be gone too. Packers win.
New Orleans (5-6) at Atlanta (10-1)
Redemption is spelt, F-A-L-C-O-N-S. Atlanta wins this game and should put an end to the Saints playoff hopes. Finally, a great Thursday night game!
Seattle (6-5) at Chicago (8-3)
Seattle needs to figure out a way to bring CenturyLink Field with them to road games because they are not the same team when the 12th Man isn’t there. Bears win.
Tampa Bay (6-5) at Denver (8-3)
As much as I like Tampa Bay this season, the Broncos didn’t blow out the Chiefs last week like they should of. I think Peyton has a huge game and the Broncos win big.
Pittsburgh (6-5) at Baltimore (9-2)
In a game that could finish 13-10 or 31-10, we really don’t know what we’re going to get. All Pittsburgh knows is that if they don’t win and get Big Ben back soon, they’re playoff hopes might slip away right into the hands of the surging Bengals. Ravens win.
Allen: If I go into the playoffs with a five game lead, I’ll be a happy man. Until then, I’m not satisfied.
Minnesota (6-5) at Green Bay (7-4)
Percy Harvin has to play in this game for the Vikings to remain competitive. Even if he plays, Green Bayis in a foul mood and realize this is a must win game. Green Bay rolls and the feel good Minnesota story starts to fade away.
New Orleans (5-6) at Atlanta (10-1)
If the Falcons were still undefeated, I’d pick New Orleans. New Orleansis in serious trouble in playoff race and need to run the table to get the last seed. I’m concerned about Asante Samuel’s shoulder being hurt but I think he’ll play. Revenge is on the mind, Atlantais on a four game losing streak to the Saints going back to 2010. Atlanta gets over the hump in the best Thursday night game of the year.
Seattle (6-5) at Chicago (8-3)
Seattle can’t win on the road and they have to play against a top 3 defense? They don’t have much of a chance even if Matt Forte misses the game. Chicago wins in a slugfest but they’ll break the game open in the 4th quarter.
Tampa Bay (6-5) at Denver (8-3)
This is the game where Tampa Bay makes a statement. I’m a big believer in Denver being a major contender, but they will slip in this one. Doug Martin breaks out after a quiet game against Atlanta. Tampa Bay pulls the upset in a game that will go into the 30’s.
Pittsburgh (6-5) at Baltimore (9-2)
It can get ugly if Ben Roethlisberger is out. Baltimore is struggling lately but they are home and Pittsburgh is starting to really struggle. Baltimore clinches the division with Joe Flacco playing at home and that’s the only place he can have a good game in.
Ace: This coming weekend has plenty of great matchups. To be the absolute instigator that I am, C-Mac and I along with our ladies and other Packer fans will be watching the Packers/Vikings Matchup from Joe Senser’s Bar and Grille, which for those of you non-local’s is a restaurant owned by former Minnesota Viking Joe Senser. Needless to say we’ll have some fun and hopefully some arguments. The playoff picture should be more defined after this week with some teams being able to clinch their division and/or playoff spots. Big thanks to Allen for joining C-Mac and I last night on Macho Men Radio, we did a lot of NFL talk and had plenty of laughs. In next week’s installment of the article we’ll make our final predicitions to who will be in the playoffs and who will take this years NFL Honors. I’ll let you wrap it up and boast about your 10-1 team in primetime tomorrow night.
Allen: Ladies and gentlemen waiting for a great Thursday night game, your prayers have been answered. The Falcons versus Saints is becoming a top five rivalry in the NFL and that can’t be denied. Even though the Saints have won the recent series, the games have been very close and Atlanta has been right on par with the Saints over the years including being better than the Saints. I’m really excited for the Thursday night game along with everyone else and will be very rowdy since I like the Saints as much as Ace likes the Vikings. Of course I respect the Saints and still see them as a threat, but they are on their last legs in 2012. Other than that, it seems like a good week of games. The Sunday night game is awful, how Philadelphia is still on Sunday night is beyond me. I’m tired of seeing Andy Reid on the sideline looking depressed. It’s a good batch of games but nothing to go crazy about. Also I want to wish good luck to everyone in most likely their last week of regular season games in fantasy football. It’s very stressful, good thing in all three of my money leagues I already clinched. Now it’s about trying to get that number two seed just to give me a week to breathe. Other than that, enjoy the week with your respective favorite team (hopefully) in the playoff race continuing to push for a playoff seed and thanks for reading.
If you have any question ideas please tweet us and we will consider your questions for next week’s article.