Chat with James Walker
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com AFC North blogger James Walker will stop by to chat about the NFL and what to expect from your team.
Walker joined ESPN.com in 2008 after three seasons covering the Cleveland Browns for the Columbus Dispatch.
Send your questions now and join James Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET!
James Walker (4:00 PM)
Hello everyone. Let's talk some AFC North.
how impressed have you been with joe flacco so far?
James Walker (4:03 PM)
I've been pretty high on Joe Flacco since he arrived in Baltimore, Jen. I felt physically he had all the tools. It was just a matter of how would adjust to the speed and mental preparation. Flacco still hasn't reached his ceiling and I think Joe and Matt Ryan are going to be very good QBs for years to come.
Interesting stat I found: Every AFC Division Champion(Steelers, Titans, Miami, and Chargers) from last season lost in Week 2.
James Walker (4:05 PM)
Week 2 is a crazy time in the NFL. Half of the teams lost the week prior and are so desperate not to fall to 0-2, because most likely that keeps you out of the playoffs.
That was a huge win for the Bengals on Sunday, if they can come out and beat Pittsburgh on Sunday, will they start getting some respect from the media? Everyone acts like the Packers lost that game, but really the Bengals won the game.
James Walker (4:06 PM)
The Bengals are paying for their long-standing struggles when it comes to national perception. It's understandable. One big win is not going to make up for nearly two decades of losing. The Bengals can go a long way to change that if they can beat Pittsburgh Sunday. I think it's going to be one of the better games this week.
Kevin (Gaithersburg, MD)
Do you think Steeler fans will egg Jeff Reed's house for missing those two FGs?
James Walker (4:08 PM)
I don't think so. It was a regular season game in Week 2, and Reed is one of the most dependable kickers out there. He's won a lot more games than he's lost. Sometimes kickers just have those odd days.
Hey James - Long time Bengals fan here. How much do you see Carson Palmer benefiting from his old roommate, Troy P, not playing in the game for the Steelers?
James Walker (4:10 PM)
I think it's a huge for the Bengals. Troy Polamalu is always that moving chess piece that Palmer has to watch pre-snap and figure out where he is and where he's going. Now Palmer can just concentrate on the scheme this week.
Mac (Ocean City, MD)
ive been really impressed with how the ravens offense is keeping the opponents guessing (the fake screen to kelley washington for a td)....do you think the ravens secondary will pick it up so the offense wont have to score 30 points a game?
James Walker (4:13 PM)
Based on the Ravens' history, it's safe to assume that eventually their defense will get it together. I expected the Ravens to take a step back defensively while transitioning to a new defensive coordinator. But I didn't expect them to be the No. 17-rated defense, which is where the team currently stands.
The Wolf (Cleveland, OH)
Josh Cribbs as the No. 2 WR...do you like it or hate it?
James Walker (4:15 PM)
What's up, Wolf. For me, it's not about liking or hating. I think that's more for Browns fans. Do I think Cribbs is a legit No. 2 NFL receiver? No, I do not. He's a football player with a lot of skills, but it's up to the coaching staff to figure out the best way to use him.
As of now, are the Baltimore Ravens the favorites to represent the AFC in Miami in February?
James Walker (4:18 PM)
It's Week 2, Kevin. Enjoy the journey for now and stop looking at the destination. Enjoy the fact the Ravens are the top team in ESPN.com's power rankings.
Who do you think is more to blame for the offensive struggles of the Browns: Brady Quinn or Eric Mangini and the rookie offensive coordinator?
James Walker (4:20 PM)
The problems on the offense are really all around, Steve. There is no one issue. There are a lot of issues that all tie in together. But I think the biggest problem is Cleveland just doesn't have enough talent to compete.
Sean (Hyde Park)
When will the Bengals coaching staff get Chris Henry the ball?
James Walker (4:21 PM)
Henry scored a touchdown last week. You want him to get two on Sunday?
James Walker (4:21 PM)
Seriously, though, keep in mind Chris is the team's No. 3 receiver. He's only going to play in sub packages.
Jerry (Cleveland Heights, Ohio)
Hey James, as a local Clevelander I need help for Week 3 Fantasy: Who would you start this week: Carson Palmer vs Steelers, or Joe Flacco vs Browns?
James Walker (4:23 PM)
Flacco. You have two great fantasy quarterbacks, though. Ride them.
What are your thoughts on Rey Maualuga thus far? Looks like Ray Lewis has a LB to pass the torch to as one of the most feared players in the division.
James Walker (4:26 PM)
I like how Rey is playing. He's aggresive and that's exactly what the Bengals were lacking. Both Ray/Reys are still playing at a very high level.
are there any good free agent corners next year available for pickup?
James Walker (4:28 PM)
Chris McAlister is the one big name still out there. But the Ravens won't go that route again. Rod Hood, I believe, is still available last time I checked. But he struggled in Cleveland this preseason.
So we have 2 divisional games this weekend, which team HAS to win this weekend.
James Walker (4:30 PM)
I think all four teams have to win this week to make a statement. If I had to choose one team, I'd say Cincinnati has the chance to make the biggest statement of the four.
Zach Younker (Taylorville)
James, Pittsburgh still has got to be the favorite in the AFC North right? They went 12-4 last year and despite a 1-1 start they have a fairly easy schedule compared to last year.
James Walker (4:32 PM)
Before the season I picked the Steelers to win the AFC North with the Ravens very close behind. I think both teams make the playoffs, as well. We will see how it turns out.
JW, I hear other pundits claim that the NFC East or other divisions are the best in football, but I would put the AFC North up against anyone. Even with the abysmal Browns, I think the top 3 can compete with any other team in the league, and there is a good chance that the division champ will also represent the AFC in Miami. Please stop the lunacy and declare the AFC North the mythical best division.
James Walker (4:33 PM)
I deal in reality. So as long as the Lombardi Trophy rests in the AFC North, that's tells me all I need to know. All that mythical stuff is fluff.
What's the status on Tyrone Carter? If he is out, what are the Steelers going to do at the safety position this week?
James Walker (4:35 PM)
Carter is expected to play this week. The Steelers are a little thin at safety, but Ryan Mundy would likely be the next guy up.
If Troy Reed was on the Browns...
James Walker (4:36 PM)
And the streak continues! As good as Troy Reed is, the Browns need a lot more than a stud safety right now.
The Wolf (In class at Cleveland State right now.)
What are the Browns to do about their right side of the O-Line that cannot open holes or protect the QB?
James Walker (4:38 PM)
Wolf. Listen to your professor right now. That's more important.
What game did you go this past week and where will you be on Sunday?
James Walker (4:39 PM)
I was at Green Bay-Cincinnati last week. Sunday I will be at Pittsburgh-Cincinnati. Both teams are 1-0 when I'm at the games and 0-1 when I'm not. So something's gotta give.
G.I. (Cleveland, Ohio)
Eric Berry, from Tennesse, would be a nice fit a safety for the Browns.
James Walker (4:41 PM)
Are Browns fans really thinking about April's draft in 2010?
Matt (Madrid, Spain)
Wolf, get sacked 6 times by Suggs, Lewis, Ngata, Gregg and Pryce (Suggs gets 2), that's what...
James Walker (4:42 PM)
Leave Wolf alone, Matt. He's in class right now.
Greg (Rochester, NY)
Your thoughts on Kyle Cook for the Bengals so far? He's been better than expected altough he has tough tests coming up.
James Walker (4:44 PM)
Cook has been better than expected. But I'm still reserving my take on him until I see him face the Casey Hamptons, Haloti Ngatas and Shaun Rogers of the world. Pittsburgh will test Cook this week.
Kevin (Gaithersburg, MD)
James, are you going to set up a special smack talk section for this weeks divisional games so we can yell at each other?
James Walker (4:47 PM)
I have a few things in mind. I wanted to wrap up Week 2 Monday and Tuesday. So tune into the blog tomorrow morning. We're going to have a lot of fun.
Bobby V (Columbus)
Bigger suprise in Cincy - Benson or Odom?
James Walker (4:48 PM)
Good one. I'd say Odom. He's leading the NFL in sacks.
A friend of mine is a huge Browns fan and is very discouraged. Anything I can do to placate him?
James Walker (4:50 PM)
Tell him there's 14 more games. Maybe they will improve.
James, since I moved from Ohio to suburbs of the ATL, I have always backed my Browns. I am no longer paying for NFL Sunday Ticket to watch the pathetic Browns. I will continue to read the blog, but consider this fan on the Falcons/Matt Ryan bandwagon!
James Walker (4:53 PM)
I am really surprised by the reaction of Browns fans this week after an 0-2 start. I'm getting a lot of responses like yours, Vinnie, in the blog. And Cleveland has always been an extremely loyal and tough fan base. What does this mean?
Kevin (Gaithersburg, MD)
Do you think Kelly Washington will take over as the #2 receiver since he's stepping up more than Mark Clayton?
James Walker (4:55 PM)
Kelly Washington=great dancer. But he's not going to be Baltimore's No. 2 receiver unless someone gets injured.
Rob (Cleveland, Ohio)
Browns fans are just sick and tired of watching the same old boring horrible football and we see no end in sight.
James Walker (4:57 PM)
But it's been this way for years, most of the past decade even. Why has the candle burned out now as opposed to, say, five years ago? That's what I'm wondering.
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Everyone, thanks again for your time. Be sure to check out the AFC North blog. All four teams play one another, so we're going to have a good time during the week.