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 discuss the AFC North.
What needs to happen for the Bengals to get a first round bye in the playoffs?
James Walker (4:02 PM)
They will probably need to beat the San Diego Chargers in Week 15, Markus. Both have similar records and San Deigo doesn't look like it will slow down anytime soon. The Bengals will have to keep pace and likely go into San Diego and stop them.
Darrell (Charlotte, NC)
Considering the recent subpar play by the Ravens, do you think that they can pull of a win against the packers?
James Walker (4:04 PM)
I think it's definitely a winnable game for the Ravens. I'm not making my picks until Friday, but I wouldn't be surprised either way. Baltimore matches up well physically with the Packers on both sides of the ball.
Daniel (Dallas, TX)
James, how good do Baltimore's playoff chances look if they beat Green Bay Monday?
James Walker (4:06 PM)
Tough to say. So much relies on what other teams do this time of year that the Ravens just need to concentrate on winning. I do not believe Jacksonville has enough to hold onto the final wild-card spot. So that last playoff spot is there for the taking. It's just a matter of whether someone like Baltimore, Pittsburgh or maybe even Tennessee wants it more.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Do you think that Quarterback Tim Tebow will be a perfect fit for Buffalo?
James Walker (4:08 PM)
I'm not huge on Tim Tebow being a star NFL quarterback. I just don't see it with his skill set. Of all the quarterbacks in this year's draft, I think Sam Bradford best translates to the pro game, if healthy. Buffalo will have a very high pick and I would be surprised if the Bills took Tebow near the top of the first round.
Matt Lang (Suburbs, MN)
Kevin Siefert dodged the question, but maybe you'd be willing to take a stab: Will Cincy sweep the NFC North along with the AFC North?
James Walker (4:09 PM)
I don't think the Bengals will win in Minnesota. But I've had trouble picking Cincinnati games all year.
Darrell (Charlotte, NC)
I know its kind of early for this question, but do you see Mark Clayton returning to the Ravens next season?
James Walker (4:10 PM)
I haven't thought about free agency that much. It looks like Clayton could be restricted if no CBA is in place. That would increase his chances of staying put.
Chris (Broadview Heights, OH)
I know the Browns are 1-10 and morale is low. Is there ANYTHING going on in Cleveland right now that can help them in 2010 and beyond? Or is this just playing out the string?
James Walker (4:12 PM)
Losing=lots of high draft picks. Perhaps Brady Quinn could have another big game or two to inspire more hope in the quarterback position. That would be a huge plus for Cleveland.
Even though Carson still has plenty of years left, do you think the Bengals should begin to take late round fliers on QBs hoping to find a hidden gem?
James Walker (4:15 PM)
I know some NFL scouts/coaches who would like to take a QB every year in the draft, just in case. Because for at least 80 percent of teams, one big blow to the starting quarterback and the season is over. Cincinnati found that out last year how tough life was without Carson. It's probably time to find a rookie to groom at some point.
Darrell (Charlotte, NC)
Do you think that the Ravens will be able get pressure on Aaron Rodgers considering their recent lack of pass rush?
James Walker (4:16 PM)
Green Bay has one of the worst offensive lines in football this year. Some of it was due to injuries. But Baltimore should be able to generate some pressure on Rodgers this week.
Your blog says that Troy Polamalu is doubtful for this weekend's game against the Raiders, but when might he realistically come back? And how has his injury effected Troy Reed's play?
James Walker (4:19 PM)
Mike Tomlin said Polamalu will be ready in "a week or so." The Steelers have two games in a short stretch coming up. So my guess is Polamalu doesn't play in the Thursday night game against Cleveland, but probably in Week 15.
Blake (Abilene, TX)
James, please tell me that Cedric Benson is still the man for Cinci? You would think from his time at Chicago that Cedric performes well when he knows he is the only back.
James Walker (4:20 PM)
Benson is the starter this week when he returns. As far as not being happy about Larry Johnson, I think that's something Benson will have to get over. Benson was hurt and the team had to protect itself.
The Wolf (Cleveland)
Do you think the Browns are better off getting vet players via free agency on offense, then building the defense via the draft? Or vice versa?
James Walker (4:23 PM)
What's up, Wolf? I think it's always best to build through the draft. The deals (outside the top 10-15) are very salary cap friendly and there is less milage on the player. The hard part is having a scouting staff that gets it right.
Tommy (Akron, Ohio)
What are the chances that the Browns get their second win of the season on sunday?
James Walker (4:25 PM)
Sam Bradford (Oklahoma)
Please tell me that the Browns have no interest in drafting me with number 1 pick
James Walker (4:26 PM)
Sam, you're shoulder concerns are probably going to land you with halfway decent team.
How many AFC North teams do you think make the playoffs?
James Walker (4:27 PM)
Do you believe that a healthy Steelers Defense in the Super Bowl could slow down Drew Brees and the Saints? nobody has done that all season but the Saints haven't seen a great defense like Pittsburgh's though.
James Walker (4:28 PM)
Wow, Tim. Are you already putting the Steelers in the Super Bowl against the Saints? There are a lot of things that have to fall right for that to happen. Let's see if the Steelers get into the playoffs first.
Can you name a team from another division that seems to you (year in and year out) like a AFC North team? Physical, defensive, etc....
James Walker (4:30 PM)
There are a few. Tennessee and Minnesota are the first two that come to mind.
What is the timeframe for Suggs return to action?
James Walker (4:33 PM)
The Ravens are saying Terrell Suggs is week-to-week. But in reality he suffered a similar injury to Troy Polamalu and it kept him out for more than a month. I would assume Suggs' timeline is about the same.
James, why do you think Cameron and Harbaugh have made such a drastic change in strategy, stressing the passing game so much as compared to last year?
James Walker (4:35 PM)
Sometimes coaches get pass happy when they discover they have a quarterback. I've seen it happen in the NFL a lot, not just in this case. Baltimore finally has a franchise QB in Joe Flacco and at times the coaching staff wants to use his arm a bit too often, in my opinion.
I'm assuming there is a zero percent chance that if the Ravens and Steelers keep winning that they get flexed to another Sunday night game...am I assuming correctly?
James Walker (4:36 PM)
The Ravens wouldn't be happy about that.
How did Andre Smith look in his first game?
James Walker (4:38 PM)
He played a handful of snaps, and really it was hard to get a read on him. I need to see more of Smith in the coming weeks than just a few plays.
What's the scoop on Ozzie N, is he staying in Baltimore or moving on to the College ranks as speculated?
James Walker (4:39 PM)
I do believe Ozzie Newsome will end his career at some point at the University of Alabama, his alma mater. But I don't get the sense that it will happen this year.
justin (tulsa, ok)
Is Troy Polamalu MVP of the NFL because last years number 1 defense look pretty average without him.
James Walker (4:41 PM)
You can't be MVP if you don't play in many games. He is the most important player on Pittsburgh's defense, though.
Any chance the AFC North Bengals can get 12 wins this season?
James Walker (4:44 PM)
Decent chance, Hutch. But Cincinnati will have to beat either Minnesota or San Diego on the road to pull it off.
Do you see the Browns winning again this season?
James Walker (4:45 PM)
I think they have a chance against Oakland and Kansas City. Other than that, the Browns could be looking at 1-15.
Hey James, you say the Ravens match up well with the Packers, but they've struggled against top-tier QBs and receivers all year-- do you think they can stop Rodgers and his receivers from scoring points in bunches?
James Walker (4:47 PM)
I said physically Baltimore matches up well. If the Ravens can win the line of scrimmage and put pressure on Aaron Rodgers, which isn't hard to do, that would help negate the passing game.
What are the chances that Lardarius Webb retains the starting corner job after injury issues pass?
James Walker (4:50 PM)
Webb likely will remain the starter for the rest of the season unless he plays really poorly. Baltimore has visions of developing him and Domonique Foxworth as its starting corners for the long-term. I don't think the Ravens will spend the money to bring Fabian Washington back.
Should Marvin keep all 4 backs active for Sunday against Detroit?
James Walker (4:53 PM)
Someone probably has to sit. I think Brian Leonard will be the player, and the Bengals can run Larry Johnson, Cedric Benson and Bernard Scott.
How serious is Brodney Pool's concussion? Is he destined for the IR like so many other Browns?
James Walker (4:54 PM)
I'm not sure about the degree of the latest concussion he just suffered, but the cumulative impact of four in five years is a problem for a safety. His job is to make big hits, and every time he does you worry about his health.
How many games do you think the bengals can afford to lose before they lose their shot at a playoff spot?
James Walker (4:56 PM)
The Bengals could get cold, land at 10-6, and still be safe. I don't believe that will happen, though.
brad (baltimore, md)
James, do you think the Ravens still need to draft or sign another free agent wide reciever in the off season?
James Walker (4:57 PM)
Yes. Derrick Mason isn't getting any younger and Mark Clayton is a free agent. This will once again be an are of need for Baltimore in the offseason.
The Wolf (Cleveland)
Who stays, who goes? Brady Quinn. Derek Anderson. Or both go?
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Derek Anderson is a goner, unless he takes a significant pay cut. The team is still undecided on Brady Quinn. He might be trade bait. But this is an important audition for him.
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Everyone, thanks for your time. Remember to check out the AFC North blog during the week.