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)
Welcome to the AFC North chat. We have a lot to get to this week. So let's get started.
Brian (Ellicott City, MD)
If you were John Harbaugh, would you start an injured Joe Flacco, or a healthy Troy Smith?
James Walker (4:02 PM)
This is easy, Brian. You stick with the quarterback that got you to the playoffs, and that's Joe Flacco. He's banged up but so is everybody else. So you stick with him.
Old school vs New School: The JETS and Raven's gave us a flash of the past. Run, run some more, run again.This weeked should define the NFL's transformation or re-invigoration of old traditions
James Walker (4:04 PM)
Good call, Greg. It will be interesting to see the contrasting styles. I think both styles can win. It's just a matter of who executes better on game day.
James, Will the Bengals resign Larry Johnson and Roy Williams? Is it possible they will get a receiver in the off season say Terrell Owens, Antonio Bryant?
James Walker (4:07 PM)
I don't anticipate either player returning. Johnson was an insurance policy for Cedric Benson. But I think he wants a bigger role elsewhere next season. Williams is a health risk with his arm. It's too early to say which receivers they would be interested in. Right now I would say no on both T.O. and Bryant.
joe (Niagara Falls)
What do you think about the Bengals signing Zimmer to a 3 year deal?
James Walker (4:10 PM)
This is being reported by NFL.com this afternoon, and if things are finalized it would be huge for the Bengals. It's probably the biggest offseason move they can make.
James Walker (4:12 PM)
Wait. I just got official word from the team that Mike Zimmer has re-signed with the Bengals. But the amount of years were not provided.
Danny Majerowicz (Baltimore)
Any chance the Ravens use the Wildcat vs Indy
James Walker (4:13 PM)
I don't think so, Danny. The Ravens haven't used it much this year, and I anticipate this being a smash-mouth game from Baltimore's perspective. I would be surprised to see a lot of gimmicks.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
JW: With Cinci's early exit, seems like Baltimore was the best team in the division. Why did the Ravens struggle in the regular season, and why were they so dominate vs the Pats?
James Walker (4:14 PM)
It's not an easy question I can answer in one paragraph, Shane. The Ravens were not consistent for several reasons. The biggest would be penalties, poor secondary play and slow starts. Lately none of these factors have come into play.
First off I love your blog. I'm here daily.My question is how do you feel about all the support for the ravens by almost all of the AFCN fans? Is this something you thought would happen or is it a surprise to you?
James Walker (4:17 PM)
Hey Saxxin. I see you all the time. Get well soon, by the way. I think it's a great thing that everyone is coming together. We have the best football fans, in my opinion. Enjoy this, because I don't anticipate it lasting into the offseason.
Connor (Damascus, MD)
Do you think that the injured Ravens secondary will be able to compete with the high powered Indy offense?
James Walker (4:19 PM)
This is definitely an advantage to the Colts. But if the Ravens compete and make a few plays/turnovers, that will go a long way for Baltimore. Pass rush and the running game will be huge this week.
Matt (Cleveland, OH)
I hate all this talk and speculation about josh cribbs, but if he did demand a trade, how much would the browns demand in return?
James Walker (4:20 PM)
Matt, I don't even think a trade is on Cleveland's radar right now. The Browns' first option is to keep him, the second may be sitting out. He means too much to the team right now.
I'm tired of hearing how huge of an upset it was that the Ravens beat New England this Sunday. Brady has been playing hurt for weeks now, Moss was gimpy, and Welker was out. How could anyone expect that New England would win?
James Walker (4:23 PM)
Where were you last week? I feel like the one of the few people in the world who picked the Ravens correctly.
Clearly the Ravens fear no one. How were the Ravens able to keep Peyton from picking apart whats been a suspect secondary in their first matchup this season?
James Walker (4:25 PM)
I wouldn't overlook the home-field advantage for Indy, K. M&T Bank Stadium was very loud in the first meeting and impacted a lot of checks for Indy. This week it will be quiet. It's a subtle factor that I think will be large in this game.
Bob Francis (Washington, DC)
Your blog about Matt Williamson's take on the Steelers draft suggested a shutdown corner. Do you think they're better off drafting a CB at 18 or finding one in free agency? What is more likely?
James Walker (4:27 PM)
Bob, it's too early to tell. I get a lot of draft questions in January, but until we know the juniors who declare we don't have a full list of players. The board will change dramatically in the next few weeks. So it doesn't make a lot of sense to go there just yet.
Mike T (Philadelphia)
Any unexpected surprises coming from Cam Cameron's offensive game plan this Saturday? ie a full fledged passing assault while the Colts are expecting up to 40 rushes?
James Walker (4:28 PM)
I expect the Ravens to take several more shots downfield. Joe Flacco will throw more than 10 passes. Book it!
Harbaugh/Flacco are 3-1 in the playoffs already in their first two years (this year isn't over yet either). Do you see last year being the start of a dynasty in Charm City???
James Walker (4:29 PM)
I judge dynasties by championships. But the playoff record is impressive. John Harbaugh has a great mentality as a head coach. I think he's the real deal.
JW, is it ok to be depressed as a Bengals fan knowing that we passed on DeSean Jackson for Jerome Simpson? Jackson would have solved a lot of problems and moved the WR position to a strength rather than need...
James Walker (4:31 PM)
It's one of those things that happen. Every team can point to cases like this where they picked the wrong player. The goal is to have as few cases as possible.
Rod (Fort Knox)
I believe SD WR Jackson is a FA after this year. Any chance the Bengals sign him or make a trade for Brandon Marshall?
James Walker (4:34 PM)
Vincent Jackson is going to cost a lot of money, Rob, probably more than Cincinnati is willing to pay. Plus, Jackson will be restricted if there is no CBA agreement.
How ironic would it be if Stover kicked a game winner?
James Walker (4:34 PM)
That's an interesting story line, Steve.
Any insight into whether Holmgren believes Brady Quinn is the QB of the future in Cleveland or will he draft another QB in the draft?
James Walker (4:37 PM)
Mike Holmgren said today that he isn't finished evaluating the roster and the QBs in particular. He is going to meet with Quinn soon to get a better feel for him. I'm not sure at this point where the situation is headed.
Or if Stover missed the game winning FG.
James Walker (4:37 PM)
Either way, it would be an interesting story line if Stover is involved.
Whats more importent for the Bengals to address in the draft this year: A WR, a DT or Safty
James Walker (4:39 PM)
Wide receiver, in my opinion. I'm not sure the Bengals would agree, because they have a lot of money tied up in Laveranues Coles. They may not want to pump big-time money in that position.
Rick (Phoenix, AZ)
What are your picks for the divisional weekend?
James Walker (4:40 PM)
I'm only picking one game this week, and that's the Ravens and Colts. I'm waiting until Friday to make the pick.
Do you think the ravens can hold freeney and mathis in check again like they did back in the regular season?
James Walker (4:42 PM)
It's been done before. But I think home-field will energize the Colts. I'm not sure the Ravens o-line will be that dominant this week on the road.
Rod (Fort Knox)
What's your evaluation of Andre Smith late in the season? He seemed to improve but still has a lot to learn.
James Walker (4:44 PM)
I would give him an incomplete grade. I need to see more of him. The offseason will be big for him.
Do you think the Ravens will sign a decent receiver in the off-season or will they just rely on the draft?
James Walker (4:48 PM)
With the way free agency could be headed this year, it will be hard to land a big name in free agency. The draft is more likely, but I think the Ravens will try at both.
Do you think Webb will be back to 100% by Training camp? I really liked what i saw and it would be a shame not to have him next year
James Walker (4:49 PM)
Considering when Webb was injured, he's going to be up against it. It's possible he will make it to training camp. But I think the regular season should be a solid goal for his return.
Do you believe Michael Oher was a better selection at 23 than Smith at 6? Smith seems like he will be perrenially out of shape.
James Walker (4:51 PM)
From what I've seen of both players this year, Oher is a much better player at this stage. Maybe Andre Smith will develop into a stud, but Oher is a stud right now.
So are you like the rest of the "experts" that give the Vikings NO CHANCE at beating Dallas?
James Walker (4:53 PM)
No, Alex. I actually feel the Vikings have a great chance to win this week. It should be exciting either way.
Doesn't it make more sense for Buffalo to be an AFC North team vs Baltimore? Shouldn't they switch especially if Buffalo goes to Canada
James Walker (4:54 PM)
Thanks but no thanks. The AFC East can keep the Bills.
jim d (conneaut lake, pa)
do you think the steelers try & resign casey hampton, or try ziggy hood at NT, although he is a bit small for the part, or wait
James Walker (4:57 PM)
I have a feeling Casey Hampton will remain in Pittsburgh. A one-year franchise tag is a possibility.
Do you think the Colts are the least bit afraid of Baltimore beating them or just confident the game is already over
James Walker (4:59 PM)
Teams are not afraid of other teams. That's something fans mostly talk about. The Colts are confident because they've had plenty of success against Baltimore in the past. The Ravens are confident because they're playing well. It should be a great game.
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Thanks everyone for another fun chat. Be sure to check out the AFC North blog throughout the week, because we have a lot of fun things planned.