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)
Let's talk some AFC North football.
Nathan (Portland, OR)
James,Love the blog! Maurkice Pouncey has gotten a great deal of positive feedback as a rookie, but I was mildly concerned in the Baltimore game as the line had no answer for Ngata.
James Walker (4:01 PM)
I don't think that's a concern, Nathan. Haloti Ngata is as tough a player to face and Pouncey struggled. That was expected. What Pouncey has to do is improve to the point where he can win some of these matchups down the road. That's why the Steelers drafted him.
Tyler (Canton, OH)
Do you really think that Colt McCoy will be out there against the Steelers? Don't you think the Browns would send out Jake Delhomme first? He obviously wasn't 100% Sunday, but sending out a 75% Jake would seems much wiser than sending out Colt McCoy.
James Walker (4:03 PM)
The Browns may not have a choice, Tyler. From what I'm told, McCoy was informed to be ready Monday because he's expected to start. That can change if Seneca Wallace somehow gets his ankle right, but the team isn't expecting it I'm hearing and will get McCoy ready. Jake Delhomme is more hurt now than he was before Sunday's game.
Josh (Owings Mills, MD)
Is it just me, or have you noticed that the Ravens have changed this year from a talented team who lacks discipline into a talented team who brings out the lack of discipline in their opponents?
James Walker (4:04 PM)
That's a very good observation, Josh. The Ravens' coaching staff put a lot of focus in training camp on playing smarter. The Ravens are so aggresive that it leads to penalties, but now they're much more under control.
Carson Palmer has been awful this year, can everyone stop calling him a "Good" QB, he has not been good since he got hurt in 2006. When do the Bengals make a move to another Quarterback? I know his brother is his backup, but Garcia is available, why not look at bringing him in?
James Walker (4:06 PM)
The Bengals are not making any quarterback changes, Brian. That's just not going to happen. Cincinnati views Palmer as its franchise player and will not go to Jordan Palmer or an outside QB that doesn't know it's system. The Bengals best bet is to help Carson Palmer get better.
Ben (DSM, IA)
With the return of #7 who benefits more Ward, Wallace or Miller?
James Walker (4:08 PM)
Hines Ward. Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon didn't look his way much, because Ward makes a living in traffic. Pittsburgh's coaching staff did not want to take chances with that so Ward's numbers suffered.
Mike (Acworth, GA)
Did anyone ever figure out what "go to the slate with power" meant?
James Walker (4:09 PM)
Not yet. But it sounds so cool that we don't care what it means.
How will the return of Ed Reed impact the Ravens in the short term and does his return legitimize their super bowl aspirations?
James Walker (4:11 PM)
The Ravens are contenders now. Many believe they are the NFL's best team after five weeks. Reed will help eliminate the big plays, because right now teams are not afraid to throw deep without Reed patroling the field. Denver beat Baltimore deep twice for touchdowns last week.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Will the Pittsburgh Steeler make trades before the NFL Trading Deadline expires?
James Walker (4:12 PM)
The Steelers aren't that kind of team. They're 3-1. Why would they make a trade anyway?
Terry (North Carolina)
Do you see the AFC North winner possibly being determined when the Ravens host the Steelers later in the season?
James Walker (4:13 PM)
I thought this would be a three-team race. But the Bengals are looking more like pretenders rather than contenders every week. Baltimore and Pittsburgh are playing the best football in the NFL right now and I expect them to be in the mix the entire year.
Mitch (Tallmadge, OH)
What does Colt McCoy have to accomplish, whether they win or lose, against Pittsburgh to show he is ready to play in the NFL.
James Walker (4:15 PM)
If Colt McCoy can move the offense, be accurate, and put points on the board that will be a good game for the rookie. I don't think anyone expects him to go out and win the game single-handedly. He just has to show enough flashes to keep the job for another week.
James Walker (4:15 PM)
But I think it's going to be a rough game for Colt.
Is Coach Lewis on the hotseat?
James Walker (4:17 PM)
Marvin Lewis is in the final year of his contract, so there is really no hot-seat situation per se. The Bengals can let him walk at the end of the season with no firing and no questions asked. Or they can sign him to an extension. I'm hearing there hasn't been extension talks in a while. Not sure if that will change.
Despite having loaded offenses, Baltimore took a few weeks to start playing well offensively, and Cinci still can't move the football consistently. Do you think the Steelers will expirience similar difficulties as Ben gets used to playing footbal again?
James Walker (4:18 PM)
I don't think the Steelers will take long because this is a familiar group. In Baltimore and Cincinnati, there were a lot of new parts that had to learn the offense. Pittsburgh has the same core group of skill players and Roethlisberger just has to get back in the driver's seat.
Billy (Los Angeles)
Do you think Cleveland has any shot on pulling off the upset on Sunday? I always hate these rivalry games, where you pretty much have to throw records, odds, and homefield out the window, in my opinion. Please ease my concerns.
James Walker (4:20 PM)
I don't see it, Billy. Too many things are going right for Pittsburgh and too many things are going wrong for Cleveland right now. If Colt McCoy starts and the Browns win, it would be the biggest upset of the season thus far in my book.
Is there any update on how Peyton Hillis is recovering? Do you thing he will play sunday?
James Walker (4:22 PM)
A lot of people are asking about Peyton Hillis and the Browns are being secretive. But the injury Hillis has is a nagging one and I think it will continue to bother him if he plays. His options are either to play limited or rest and sit. The choice will probably be up to him later in the week.
Alex (New York)
Historically the Ravens have trouble heading to Foxboro, but last years blowout in the playoffs is something not soon forgotten. Are the Patriots out for blood and will get the win? Or will the Ravens keep the momentum and knock off the Pats?
James Walker (4:23 PM)
Check out the AFC North blog later in the week and find out. Walker's AFC North picks are doing very well this year.
Was there anything wrong with Joe Thomas on sunday that caused his weak performance?
James Walker (4:26 PM)
I think people are spoiled by Thomas. He's rarely has a bad game to where people are shocked when someone actually gets the best of him. Thomas is one of the top LTs in football, but John Abraham beat him on Sunday. It happens.
BengalBacker (Columbus, Ohio)
Give me something to cling to this season. If Cincy beats Atlanta and Stillers do they still have a shot at the playoffs?
James Walker (4:29 PM)
If the Bengals can post a winning record in their next four games after the bye, they are a legit contender. They have to beat three from this group: Atlanta, Miami, Pittsburgh, Indy. If they go .500 or worse, the Bengals are in trouble down the stretch.
George Brownfield (Houston, TX)
If Wallace and Delhomme can't play, wouldn't Cleveland be better off playing Cribbs in the Wildcat then sending Colt McCoy out there to be slaughtered?
James Walker (4:32 PM)
Nope. The Browns need a QB back there. They can use Cribbs in the Wildcat more to help take the pressure off. Cribbs did well in that formation last year against Pittsburgh. But not having a true threat back there to throw the ball will make Cleveland too easy to defend.
The Buck (Cleveland)
Do you think Alex Smith would have more success with a more stable franchise? He definitely is not going to the slate with power in SF.......in fact, he is going to the slate at all.
James Walker (4:33 PM)
I've never been sold on Smith from Day 1, but that's just my personal observation. I don't think a new team will help. He's had plenty of chances (probably too many) and never produced.
Lou (South Bend)
How about the Lions going into the Meadowlands....do they even score?
James Walker (4:34 PM)
The Lions scored a bunch of points last week. I'm sure they can put up a few this week.
Do you think the browns should have went out and got another qb such as Jamarcus Russel or Daunte Culpepper to help out with their qb problem?
James Walker (4:36 PM)
I'm not sure that's the best route, Kegan. Colt McCoy at least has been in the system all during training camp and taking reps in practice. Brining in one of these guys and teaching them the plays in a few days looks like a disaster situation as well.
Randy (Cleveland, OH)
Is Eric Wright having a bad season so far? It seems like everyone here in Cleveland thinks he's awful, but I remember last year when he was regarded as one of the best cornerbacks in the AFC North (maybe he just looked THAT GOOD in comparison to Brandon McDonald?). What part of his game needs the most improvement to get him back to being an effective part of the defense?
James Walker (4:39 PM)
Wright is a good cover corner but he is having bad games this year. I wouldn't say he's awful. He doesn't tackle well, but he's a decent CB.
Eric Ray (Eight oh Six)
Is Pittsburgh the best team in the NFL right now?
James Walker (4:39 PM)
I voted the Steelers No. 1 in the Power Rankings.
will stallworth get a chance to play against his former team? im out of the loop on his injury status.
James Walker (4:41 PM)
Donte' Stallworth is not expected to play this week against New England. But he will be back soon from a broken foot, probably in the next few weeks.
Randy (Cleveland, OH)
Who is the best rookie in the division so far this year?
James Walker (4:43 PM)
T.J. Ward, Maurkice Pouney and Jermaine Gresham are all having fast starts. Check back after the season.
Hi James, What does the RB situation look like for Cleve if Hillis is down? Do you think Harrison can finally get a groove (like last year) with more playing time?
James Walker (4:44 PM)
Jerome Harrison is the next man up. But something is going on there. Harrison hasn't looked good all preseason or in limited playing time in the regular season. He also has fumbling issues.
rafael (rhode island)
how bout them raiders
James Walker (4:48 PM)
What about them? They're 2-3. Bengals fans in the AFC North blog are very upset their team is 2-3. AFC West fans accept mediocrity?
Hey James... the browns have been competitive in every game this year (leading in every 4th quarter) (also leading the falcons with wallace in)...do you think they can win games with Colt Mccoy?
James Walker (4:50 PM)
I'm taking things one game at a time, because that's how the NFL is. It's very week-to-week. I don't think the Browns have a shot next week with Colt McCoy.
Blake (Abilene, TX)
When Colt was at Texas, Jordan Shipley was so good at seperating him self from the LB's and getting open in that 5 to 15yd range. Does Cleveland have a quick slant guy who can weve threw the zone or create space from the LB's?
James Walker (4:52 PM)
Receiver is probably the weakest area of the team. Chansi Stuckey may be the closest thing they have to Jordan Shipley in terms of what's you're explaining.
Mike (Boca Raton)
Can you allay my concerns that, with 7 back in Pittsburgh, Steelers O.C. Bruce Arians will once again forget about the running game?
James Walker (4:53 PM)
Is that your prediction, Mike? We will see.
Jake (Youngstown, OH)
I'm guessing the Bowns will win one more game so I am looking at the draft, what do you think are the top three positions we need right now?
James Walker (4:57 PM)
It's very early to be looking towards the draft. But the Browns need playmakers, someone who makes a difference and can dominate a game, particularly in crunch time. That can come at a lot of positions.
What is your record for the season with predictions in the AFC North?
James Walker (4:58 PM)
For the season I'm 10-5. We're going to have a good record this week, too.
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Everyone, thanks again for your time. Remember to check out the AFC North blog and AFC North Twitter for constant updates.