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: Season’s Greetings to all of our great readers and to you as well buddy! I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday! Packer fans got a gift from Collarbone Claus on Thursday after it was announced that Aaron Rodgers would be starting on Sunday against the Bears! This is the final week of the 2013 NFL Regular season. It seems like it was just a few short weeks ago that we were making our predictions and both of us had such optimism for our respective teams. Your team played some great football in a losing effort on Monday Night against the 49ers and my team is playing ‘WIN AND IN’ football against the Bears on Sunday afternoon. I want to thank Tony Gonzalez for sealing my second Fantasy Football Championship of the season. Let me break it down really quick. I was down by 8 points before Gonzalez scored his TD against the 49ers, and then was down 1. He didn’t do anything after the onside kick, until after Matty Ice was taken for a pick six, Gonzalez caught an 11 yard pass that tied me and my opponent up and then caught a 9 yard pass with 5 seconds left to put my ahead by 1 point. How were your fantasy matchups, Allen?

Allen: Only went one for three unfortunately. A few late Christmas shout outs go out to Jim Schwartz for being clueless and benching Reggie Bush after one fumble. You have two explosive players offensively in Bush and Calvin Johnson. Johnson is clearly playing hurt, so how it would make sense to bench your only other explosive player? Good riddance Schwartz, besides Matthew Stafford you are the reason for Detroit’s demise. Jason Witten you were always known as reliable, but you played a big role in costing me a championship. I’ve noticed he’s getting slower as well, so age could very well be catching up to him. Even the great ones get affected by age, unless you’re Tony Gonzalez. That’s about it, fantasy football is over and it was a pretty successful season for the both of us. Now let’s get into reality football.

Ace: When we made our picks earlier in the season for coach of the year, I took Andy Reid and you took Greg Schiano. The way this season has worked out there are several names emerging as candidates for Coach of the Year.

Who is on your short list as the 2013 Coach of the Year?

Allen: My mid-season choice was Rex Ryan and now he could be on the chopping block. The Jets would be foolish to fire Ryan, but incompetent people run that organization so it wouldn’t surprise me if they fired him. Andy Reid is still a prime choice based on how the team has played coming off a 2-14 season last year. Houston and Atlanta should look at what Reid did thinking they could be that team next year.

Ron Rivera is another prime choice, even though I still don’t think he’s very good. His time management decisions have always been shaking, while the play calling is far too conservative. Obviously Carolina needs to bolster their receiving corps, but they still have some explosive weapons.  Rivera is probably the favorite based on Carolina most likely earning a first round bye. He still should have been fired last year and should be thankful for a stellar defense.

Chip Kelly and Bruce Arians are two other coaches that I’d put serious consideration into this list. Even though they are likely missing the playoffs, Arians has done an outstanding job in Arizona by getting the best out of players who were considered to be on the decline. They have players like Karlos Dansby, John Abraham, and Carson Palmer who have played relatively well this year. Kelly’s chances don’t look good since Philadelphia’s record is nothing special, but he’s still done wonders for them. You could only imagine how explosive that offense is going to be next season when Jeremy Maclin is back, as long as they resign him.

NFL Story of the Week

The Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears meet on Sunday in a battle for the NFC North. Well, it’s a battle of who will more than likely be the fourth seed and face New Orleans, Carolina or San Francisco. Both teams have terrible defenses and have been ravaged by injuries during the season. The Packers Defense ranks 21st against the Pass (248.8/YPG) and 26th against the Run (125.3/YPG) while the Bears rank 14th against the Pass (227.8/YPG) and dead last against the Run (161.5/YPG). Who wins the battle of the North?

Allen: My prediction will be below, but the downfall of both defenses has been astounding. Chicago has consistently been a top ten defense for years. The embodiment of that franchise was to always have a strong defense that can be relied on. They’ve done that for so many years, although my concern was that their star players are aging. You look at players like Julius Peppers, Lance Briggs, and Charles Tillman who are starting to get older and break down. Where are the young players that are capable of stepping up in their absence? There has been no indication of that and that’s the major problem in Chicago.

The interior push from the defensive line is non-existent, while the young linebackers aren’t hitting the proper gaps to make tackles. It’s never a positive thing, when both safeties in Major Wright and Chris Conte are in the top three of most tackles on your team. Similar to the issues in Dallas, both safeties are being forced to make open field tackles far too often. The pass defense has been solid for the most part, which basically means that the front seven has to take reasonability for their poor play. There performance last Sunday night against Philadelphia was pathetic.

I’m still wondering what happened to that vicious Packers defense that played an integral part of their Super Bowl run in 2010-2011. Obviously they lost a few pieces in Nick Collins and Charles Woodson, but what has happened to some of the key playmakers? BJ Raji has been anonymous for the most part in the past two years. Morgan Burnett and M.D Jennings have blown too many coverage responsibilities this season. The pass rush has been too inconsistent, while Nick Perry hasn’t lived up to expectations.

At least Chicago’s pass defense is still holding it together, while Green Bay has had far too many coverage breakdowns. This game is bound to be a shootout, so it’ll come down to which defense forces more turnovers or even just one turnover.

Ace: I figured that after the Bears hired Marc Trestman that the defense might not be the focus as Trestman is considered to be a great offensive mind and quarterback coach. With that being said, the Bears still have plenty of talent on defense but like you mentioned the key components to what was once an elite defense are getting older and slowing down. The Bears defense has been riddled with injuries this season and when they’ve been on the field a lot, which puts them in a bad situation.

The Packers on the other hand have had some good defensive showings in the past. You mention the run in 2010 to their Super Bowl title and this years Packers team and that team have many similarities with the injuries being a main similarity. Another being that Dom Capers defense wasn’t the greatest throughout the season but they put a string of great games together. They’re definitely missing some talent that’s around them but Capers and his defense have been alright, in my opinion. With Aaron Rodgers returning this weekend it will give them a different look on offense and hopefully that will mask some of the defensive problems and give them a shot in the arm as well to wake up and realize they need to play their best football.

I think the Packers will win on Sunday, the offense is getting healthy and if they can have their defense play 50% better than they have been, they should be in good shape for the playoffs.

Allen: After a 0-4 start, Ben Roethlisberger has had a tremendous season keeping the Steelers relevant.

Is Big Ben the most underrated quarterback in football?

Ace: I couldn’t think of a better way to describe Big Ben than the most underrated quarterback in football. People always bring up Tom Brady and Eli Manning as quarterbacks who have won multiple Super Bowls, but often forget that Big Ben has won just as many as Manning and appeared in three Super Bowls.

With 246 yards passing on Sunday, Ben will exceed his career high. He’s already thrown for the 2nd highest passing TD’s of his career (32) and averaging his 2nd highest yards per game average of his career. Roethlisberger has never lost more than 8 games as a starter and has only finished below .500 as a starter once (7-8). He has a chance to improve to 8-8 this season after starting 0-4. The team’s misfortunes aren’t due to Roethlisberger’s performance but due to the aging defense and lack of a running game in the first month of the season.

The running game has drastically helped Big Ben out through his career. When the running game is successful, he is successful. He has had many successful backs from Jerome Bettis to Willie Parker to Rashard Mendenhall and now to Le’Veon Bell.

Roethlisberger has been one of my favorite players that are not a Packer and I’ve been a fan of him and his Steelers teams. Does he have another Super Bowl run left? I’m not sure. If so, it might not be with Pittsburgh.

Elite NFL Mind Challenge

Just like the last few weeks, we both went 2-3 last week. I maintain my 1 game lead at. I sit at 49-29 and you are 48-30. Remember, our picks don’t end at the end of the regular season; we will pick all the playoff games.

The Ace’s Picks

Baltimore Ravens (8-7) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (10-5)

Both teams have a lot to play for. If the Ravens win, they’ve got a shot at the final wild card spot. If the Bengals win and New England loses to Buffalo, then Cincinnati gets the second seed. I find it really hard to believe that Baltimore gets out of here with a win. AJ Green and Andy Dalton get a playoff Tune Up.

Winner: Cincinnati Bengals

Green Bay Packers (7-7-1) vs. Chicago Bears (8-7)

I deleted everything I wrote here when I started writing this part. In regards to the Bears defense, see above. I have four words: Aaron Rodgers is back.

Winner: Green Bay Packers

San Franciscso 49ers (11-4) vs. Arizona Cardinals (10-5)

The Cardinals need help to get in the playoffs. New Orleans needs to lose at home to Tampa Bay. I think the Cardinals will do their part and knock off the 49ers, but they’ll finish at 11-5 and miss the playoffs. This team has a bright future.

Winner: Arizona Cardinals

Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) vs. San Diego Chargers (8-7)

Kansas City cannot finish any better or worse than the #5 seed. They’re locked in with a date against either Indianapolis or Cincinnati. San Diego is playing for a playoff spot but they need help. Will they get it? The Jets need to knock off the Dolphins and Baltimore needs to be knocked off too

Winner: San Diego Chargers

Philadelphia Eagles (9-6) vs. Dallas Cowboys (8-7)

What do Joey, Outsourced, The Jay Leno Show, Knight Rider, Kath & Kim and Coupling all have in common? All were better ideas for NBC than putting the Eagles/Cowboys game in primetime over Chicago/Green Bay. I will not be watching this game, a little bit out of spite, but mostly because I hate NBC's NFC East boner.

Winner: Philadelphia Eagles

Allen’s Picks

Baltimore Ravens (8-7) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (10-5)

Cincinnati won’t let up in potentially earning a first round bye. Baltimore’s performance against New England was alarming, based on how stagnant the offense looked against an average New England defense. They clearly need to make upgrades all over their offense in the offseason. Cincinnati is quietly one of the best home teams in the NFL. They won’t crack here, although they’ll still have to play next week. Despite the lack of talent around him, this is where Joe Flacco needs to prove his worth. Once again, he’ll fall short and Justin Tucker won’t be there to bail him out.

Winner: Baltimore Ravens

Green Bay Packers (7-7-1) vs. Chicago Bears (8-7)

Green Bay’s savior is finally back. Aaron Rodgers will play and how can you pick against him? If Eddie Lacy plays, they could very well score 50 points. This game won’t be a blow out by any means because Chicago can score in bunches and Green Bay’s defense is clearly not very good. Eventually Jay Cutler will throw a crucial interception and that will be the moment, where Green Bay will get a two-possession lead. They won’t look back, while Chicago’s off-season just got even more interesting.

Winner: Green Bay Packers

San Franciscso 49ers (11-4) vs. Arizona Cardinals (10-5)

This could have been a play-in game, thanks for ruining it Harry Douglas. Despite their lackluster performance on Monday, San Francisco knows it has to play at there best against Arizona. With a potential number one seed looming if St. Louis beats Seattle, they won’t let up. Look for them to harass Carson Palmer into a few turnovers and Vernon Davis to be the difference maker in cracking Arizona’s elite defense.

Winner: San Francisco 49ers

Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) vs. San Diego Chargers (8-7)

Kansas City has essentially nothing to play for. Andy Reid is an intelligent coach, who knows that he wants his players to remain healthy. If they lose someone like Jamaal Charles or Tamba Hali, they are essentially one-and-done. San Diego is one of the hottest teams in football and Phillip Rivers won’t have a let down here.

Winner: San Diego Chargers

Philadelphia Eagles (9-6) vs. Dallas Cowboys (8-7)

I’ve been backing Dallas all year, but it’s nearly impossible to do so now. Kyle Orton should have a decent game considering Philadelphia’s secondary is their major weakness, especially on the road. Still it’s hard to put trust in Orton, where you know this will most likely be a shoot out. LeSean McCoy will most likely run for over 200 yards as well, while Nick Foles should continue to play well. If Romo was playing, I could see them winning in a shoot out. Orton’s lack of arm strength and mobility will be his downfall, besides the defense’s inability to stop any good offense.

Winner: Philadelphia Eagles

Allen: We get to witness two elimination games on Sunday, although it does hurt to see Arizona most likely eliminated. This is another prime example on why the NFC is superior to the AFC. Earlier in the year, it seemed like the tide was shifting. Now the NFC shows that they have five tremendous teams, even though one of them won’t be playing in the playoffs. Also let’s not forget the Rams, who could finish 8-8 and still come in last place. Anyway my last Christmas shout out and this will be a positive one going to Tony Gonzalez. It’ll be the last game of his career and I know he’ll go out with a bang. He’s currently on a four game streak of scoring a touchdown. I’m confident the goat will go out with another touchdown and show that he could still play for another three years. I’m happy he’s retiring though, he’s done so much in his career and shouldn’t feel obligated to keep on playing, if he doesn’t want to. Thank you Tony, it was an honor to see you play for my favorite team for five seasons and play at an elite level each season.

Ace: Tony G has had an awesome career it will be sad to see a classy guy like him go. I’ll more than likely be watching ‘WIN AND IN’ (GB vs. CHI) with my Macho Men Radio co-host C-Mac who doesn’t have the Sunday Ticket so we won’t be able to flip to other games like San Francisco vs. Arizona. This has been a very fun regular season with lots of ups and downs. I’ll be wearing my #12 jersey with much pride! I hope the game is over before halftime as Rodgers with a chip on his freshly healed shoulder area will be bad news for the Bears. Big thanks to Allen for joining me on a special Thursday night edition of Macho Men Radio as we talked about Week 17 and looking ahead to Black Monday in the NFL. Enjoy the final regular season week and bring on the postseason!

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