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)
Big week in the AFC North with the Steelers and Ravens playing Sunday. Let's talk about the division.
Chris (Cleveland, Ohio)
I know it is early, but are there any Pro Bowlers for the Browns this year? I feel like there are a few players having great seasons on a team that is tough and playing hard weekly.
James Walker (4:02 PM)
Good question, Chris. I think both players in the backfield have a shot in Peyton Hillis and Lawrence Vickers. Hillis is playing at a Pro Bowl level and Vickers is very underrated as a blocker. LT Joe Thomas always has a chance, although I don't think this has been one of his better years.
James Walker (4:03 PM)
I don't see anyone on the defense in Cleveland getting a look.
Chances are slim I get chosen with my name being female, but here it goes. Do you think the Browns made the right decision starting Delhomme vs his old team on sunday? If McCoy was healthy, shouldn't the hot hand be played instead? Thanks!
James Walker (4:06 PM)
Rachel that really hurt my feelings. I'm not sure what that meant, but you bring up a great question. The Delhomme pick was bad from the start. He had shown nothing earlier in the season to earn that type of confidence and now Eric Mangini is not committing to him yet this week. Once McCoy gets healthy, he's earned the start. But I'm told he's probably a little less than 50-50 this week.
Michael (Durham NC)
With their offensive line so banged up, does Pittsburgh have a realistic chance of A.) Making the playoffs and B.) Winning in the playoffs?
James Walker (4:08 PM)
I'm pretty confident Pittsburgh makes the playoffs. The Steelers are good at overcoming injuries and have to do it again. Maybe they get healthy by January (Aaron Smith) and make a run. This year in the playoffs, I think it's all about matchups. It's wide open this year, so Pittsburgh has a shot like everyone else.
Will Jerome Simpson finally get some playing time? Theres nothing to lose now.
James Walker (4:10 PM)
The Bengals are starting to play their younger players (Dunlap, Atkins), but Simpson isn't one of them. Cincinnati is still trying to win games and taking Ochocinco, T.O. or Shipley off the field doesn't help the team. I usually wait before I label a player a draft bust, but I've seen enough of Simpson to feel confident in giving him that label.
im a die hard ravens fan i hate the steelers i think its going to be somewhere between 23 to 20 or 17 to 14
James Walker (4:12 PM)
There's a prediction. I will make mine on Friday. I was 4-0 last week, by the way.
Josh Curtis (Idaho Falls, Idaho)
Hey James, thanks for producing the best blog on all things AFC North! Do you see Brian Robiskie as more of a slot/possession guy? I think he is being misused on the outside of the field.
James Walker (4:13 PM)
Thanks, Josh, but I'm the only person blogging about the AFC North. Robiskie is more of a third WR if he reaches his potential. The ceiling isn't that high for him to be a No. 1 WR, and he's proving that this year.
santos (ft Bragg, NC)
Going into Sundays huge AFC showdown between Pittsburgh and baltimore, which team you think has more pressure to win that game??
James Walker (4:16 PM)
I think the pressure is on both teams, but a little more on Pittsburgh. Baltimore already beat the Steelers in Heinz Field. Yes, it was without Ben Roethlisberger. But the win counts. Even if the Ravens lose, there are still some tiebreakers that have to be sorted out between the two teams. If the Steelers lose, they are pretty certain to be fighting for a wild card.
Blake (Pittsburgh PA)
Whats the news on Big Ben's injury?
James Walker (4:17 PM)
Roethlisberger has a right foot sprain. He's in a boot but expects to play. His mobility may be an issues, which is a big part of his game.
Ben (Toledo, Ohio)
Do you think that Marvin Lewis is going to be the head coach of the Bengals next year, or is his time done?
James Walker (4:18 PM)
I would be very surprised if Marvin Lewis is the head coach of the Bengals next year. The feeling I get talking to people around the league is he's coaching his last five games in Cincy.
Hey James, Do you think the penalties that the Steelers are racking up a product of a discipline problem or is it that the refs are putting them under a microscope and making more marginal/bad calls?
James Walker (4:20 PM)
It's a combination. I've seen a lot of bad calls go against the Steelers, especially in that Oakland game. But not every call was questionbale. Pittsburgh need to take ownership in cleaning things up, because the Ravens will take advantage where Oakland and Buffalo couldn't.
Which injury affects Sunday's game more, Big Ben or Oher?
James Walker (4:21 PM)
Always go with the starting quarterback. But both are expected to play.
Coaching candidates likely for cincy for 2011 season???????
James Walker (4:23 PM)
I've been checking around and I'm finding that it's too early. People around the league don't want to say much while there's still someone holding the job, which Marvin Lewis is. Right now, I only feel safe mentioning Mike Zimmer. I think he's going to get a hard look by Bengals ownership. Other than that, I'm still waiting for some firmer names to surface.
Outside of wide receivers, what do you think the Browns need to add to their team to be .500 or better??
James Walker (4:25 PM)
The Browns need some playmakers. It can come anywhere: LB, WR, DL. Cleveland doesn't have enough difference-makers, and I think that's why the Browns are struggling in these close games. Cleveland has a lot of avg to decent players, but not many Pro Bowl players.
Jason (Fort Worth)
Are the Patriots the only team in the AFC that the Steelers would want to avoid? Pittsburgh matches up pretty well with everyone else in the AFC.
James Walker (4:27 PM)
I would say so. Pittsburgh usually plays well against everyone else: San Diego, Baltimore, Indy. Baltimore is a much better matchup for NE, but the Ravens need to avoid the Colts. I don't care what their record is, if Peyton Manning is on the field, that's trouble for Baltimore.
keep Carson or draft luck?? noting that luck might stay his senior yr for education purposes
James Walker (4:30 PM)
If the Bengals land the No. 1 overall pick, I'm cutting ties with Palmer and his $11.5 million salary next year and drafting a QB. I like Luck, but I still want to wait until the draft process plays out a little more to see which QB I like the best.
Speaking of changing coaches do you think that Mangini will get another shot, and if so does he stick with Colt McCoy or draft another Q.B. (Andrew Luck)?
James Walker (4:31 PM)
The decision is still to be determined with Eric Mangini. He's won nine games in two years, and that's not enough. This is why these final few games are so important. If Mangini can get hot and lead the Browns to maybe eight wins, he could stay. Anything less than seven or eight and it's not looking good.
Which potential AFC West winner would be more problematic for the AFC North contenders the Chargers or Chiefs?
James Walker (4:34 PM)
I would say neither. Both teams are pretty good matchups for the Ravens and Steelers. Of course, the Chargers are more dangerous.
Whats the chance we land J Joe or do u think the bengals will give him extension or even franchise him
James Walker (4:35 PM)
We don't know if there will be a franchise tag to begin with, Chris. So it's too early for that. As far as giving Joseph an extension, time is running out. There were talks earlier this year, but they broke down.
Matty Nice (PA)
James, the Steelers draft next year has look at OL and DL right , need youth and depth?
James Walker (4:36 PM)
I have a feeling the Steelers are going to look hard at CBs this offseason. Ike Taylor is a free agent.
That one guy (Somewhere)
How do you feel about D.A. post game tantrum after his loss to the 49ers,
James Walker (4:38 PM)
I was surprised. I covered Derek Anderson for several years in Cleveland and never saw that side of him. He did not like questions about him smiling on the sideline.
Alex (Reading, PA)
Do you think the Steelers could could win the AFC if they have to play New England?
James Walker (4:39 PM)
I think New England is the one team Pittsburgh would have the most trouble beating this year, as long as Tom Brady is healthy.
Cloud (The sky)
Which rookie is coming along better, T.J. Ward or Joe Haden? Are they both future leaders of the Defense ?
James Walker (4:41 PM)
I like Ward's development better, as he's made an instant impact. Haden is coming along a little slower but he's making strides. Both could turn out solid draft picks.
Will you be in Baltimore to watch the best game of the year?
James Walker (4:42 PM)
Yes, I'm in Maryland now covering the Ravens this week leading up to the game.
Josh (Owings Mills, MD)
Why do you think Ray Rice's production has dropped off this year? He looked good icing the Tampa game and he had an early-season knee bruise, but I thought he would be doing much better things in 2010.
James Walker (4:45 PM)
Rice has been a little banged up, but it's mostly the team has improved. The Ravens have more players to go to this year, and that's eating away at some of Rice's production. But I also think the team is better this way.
Bryan (Grove city)
Will Cedric Benson still be with the the Bengals next year?
James Walker (4:47 PM)
My expectation is that Benson will not return. He was unhappy with his role in Cincy this year and the team is likely to make wholesale changes.
Alex (Reading, PA)
Who should be the Steelers #3 receiver, Sanders or Randel El?
James Walker (4:48 PM)
I think they should mix both in. Sanders is better athletically, but he still makes some costly drops and rookie mistakes. The Steelers will know when he's ready.
Realistic Fan (State College, PA)
Why all the coverage about Ben wearing a walking boot? Is there really anyone out there that is doubting Roethlisberger playing Sunday night?
James Walker (4:50 PM)
Most expect Ben Roethlisberger to play. But anytime a starting QB is hurt, it's going to be news.
Which rookie has impressed you the most so far this year in the division?
James Walker (4:52 PM)
There have been a few. In no particular order, Maurkice Pouncey, T.J. Ward and Colt McCoy have been pretty impressive.
Would carolina or buffalo or even denver take luck before the bengals can if carson is gone
James Walker (4:55 PM)
To be honest, I haven't even thought that far ahead. I'm still trying to find out if the Bengals want Carson Palmer next year. But if he is a free agent, he will certainly get a look.
What is your take on the Ravens handing out towels?
James Walker (4:56 PM)
Not a big fan of it. I think teams should be more original, or at least not copy the exact team they're playing that week.
Purple vuvuzelas would be off the chain!
James Walker (4:58 PM)
That's original, but not sure it's a great idea, either.
Mike (The Burgh)
Thanks for going to the slate with power during this week's chat. Awesome work Mr Walker, lets do this again next week, shall we?!
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Good idea. Thanks for your time, everyone, and continue to read the AFC North blog and AFC North Twitter page for constant updates. Enjoy the games.