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. There's plenty to talk about. So let's get this party started.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who do you think will be the AFC North Champions?
James Walker (4:02 PM)
Pittsburgh has the inside track and I don't see the team blowing its lead over Baltimore with three games left. The Steelers own some key tiebreakers right now, so it looks like it could be a two-game lead, despite just a one-game lead in the standings.
James, Do you think that the falcons are good contenders for the Superbowl?
James Walker (4:03 PM)
Yes. I think the Falcons are legit this year. I've seen them against three AFC North teams (Pitt, Cincy, Balt) in person and I've been more impressed every time. The front seven on D is very underrated because ATL is an offensive team.
zach (new jersey)
Are we going to see another steelers pats title game? Steelers should win considering how good their defense is now and aaron smith isnt even playing.
James Walker (4:05 PM)
It's a bit early to predict the AFC Championship, Zach. I think a lot of it will come down to seeding and matchups. The Pats are looking tough right now but I don't feel they're unbeatable. I think a team like the Ravens or maybe the Colts, if they ever get healthy, has a shot to pull the upset. Pittsburgh needs to stay as far away from New England as possible. Bad matchup.
Hey James, how can the Browns continue to play Jake? Do the coaches want to get fired?
James Walker (4:08 PM)
I can't really figure that one out, Mark. Jake Delhomme hasn't shown anything all year to make me feel he should be the starting quarterback. But the Browns like Delhomme more than Wallace. I think if Colt McCoy is healthy, he plays. I'm hearing he's getting close to returning.
Sad to say for a life long browns fan but big ben is one tough QB this guy takes a beating like no QB in my memory and it kills me that McCoy misses a month with an ankle sprain, so im not convinced he has the toughness to last a whole year.
James Walker (4:10 PM)
Injuries happen, Jimmy. Colt McCoy is not a big guy, but I think he has toughness. He may need to bulk up in the offseason for the NFL game. But I don't think that would've mattered when someone rolls your ankle. It happened to all three Cle QBs.
Josh (Baltimore, MD)
Given this past weeks game, how do you feel the Ravens fair against the Saints this week?
James Walker (4:12 PM)
It's going to be a really tough matchup. The Saints are really good but flying a bit under the radar to be SB champs. I won't make my pick until Friday, but I think it's a tough game for Baltimore to win unless it gets a lot of turnovers.
Jody (Portage, pa)
John Scott has only started a few games, yet leads the NFL in holding penalties. Should the Steelers try Trai Essex at Left Tackle?
James Walker (4:13 PM)
I'm not sure Trai Essex is the answer, either. Pittsburgh just doesn't have a lot of good players on its offensive line. It's an area of weakness and it's been hit by injuries. Teams can't be strong everywhere.
Hey James. Is it time to bench palmer? Can Lefavour or whatever his name is be any worse?
James Walker (4:14 PM)
I don't think you can bench Carson Palmer. He's clearly the best QB on the roster. The question is will Cincinnati stick with Palmer next year or find his replacement?
JW - Do the Ravens have a chance vs the Saints on Sunday? If the O-line continues to under-perform, I don't think the Ravens stand a chance, your thoughts?
James Walker (4:15 PM)
Yes, the Ravens have a chance. They are talented enough to beat anyone, especially at home. The second half yesterday was ugly but I wouldn't write off Baltimore because of it. It will be a tough game.
is it one and done for TO? in Cincy
James Walker (4:17 PM)
Owens is 37 but probably wants a multi-year deal after a solid season. I think the Bengals are going to rebuild with younger players and let Owens sign elsewhere.
Do you think that with Heath Miller being cleared to play this week, it can provide a spark into an offense that was able to produce yards but not points last week?
James Walker (4:19 PM)
Miller will return to practice this week and it will be a big boost. He doesn't put up huge numbers, but he makes timely plays and is a great run blocker.
I for one are NOT afraid of the Pats..We blew a lot of plays and left mucho points on the field..
James Walker (4:20 PM)
Who, Marie? The Ravens or Steelers? I think Baltimore has a better chance to beat New England than Pittsburgh.
Evan (Boise, ID)
Like most Browns fans, I was yelling "Pay the man!", but now Cribbs hasn't produced much this year. Whatever happened to running the Wildcat with Cribbs? What about using him as a receiver?
James Walker (4:22 PM)
I'm hearing Josh Cribbs is pretty hurt and trying to tough it out. He's not the type that will complain about injuries, but that's been a factor in his bad year. The Browns can't do as much with Cribbs as they would like, so they are keeping him at returning kicks.
James, I have this gut feeling that Mike Brown will release Carson Palmer to save money, then go Draft a unproven QB like Luck, or Newton. Mr. Walker, I really don't want to go through another Akili Smith David Klinger era. What should they do?
James Walker (4:24 PM)
I think starting over is the way to go. If you're running a team, you have to ask yourself can X quarterback, in this case Carson Palmer, lead my team to the Super Bowl? It's clear that is not the case, so it's time to build with someone else.
Are Then Bengals really that bad, or is just there not well coached?
James Walker (4:25 PM)
It's both, at least this year.
Do you think the Steelers are playing the jets at the right time because of all the distractions of trip gate, struggling "sanchise", and their team reeling?
James Walker (4:26 PM)
You never know in this league. I thought Baltimore was catching Pittsburgh at the right time two weeks ago, and the Steelers pulled it out on the road. Now the Ravens are struggling. It's hard to be consistent in this league, but the Steelers are playing much better entering this game.
John (Cincy )
i Find it funny that they talk about Carson like he is a Derek Anderson. No offense I watched the gm and Palmer made some throws that were perfect i still see he has some years left.
James Walker (4:29 PM)
I agree. Carson Palmer still has some football left in him. But he's no longer the player that can carry the entire Bengals franchise to the Super Bowl. I think in the right situation he would be a solid QB. But Cincinnati isn't the right situation for him anymore.
James Walker (4:29 PM)
By the way, I'm not saying Cincinnati WILL cut Palmer. That's still to be determined. I'm saying, in my opinion, the Bengals should start over and build with a new QB. Just want to be clear.
James, i like colt MCcoy, but if the browns have a chance at (locker or k.moore) would they have to consider it, or go after (AJ green, or if blackmon from OK.ST) .
James Walker (4:32 PM)
I think Colt McCoy has shown enough this year to where you don't invest tens of millions on another QB in the first round. I also think it's important for McCoy to play in December, because that's tough conditions for QBs in Cleveland.
I'm afraid to ask this question because I don't want to think about the answer, but how long do you think LeBeau will continue to coach. Obviously I would like you to answer forever, but he isnt the youngest coach anymore.
James Walker (4:34 PM)
Dick LeBeau is coaching year-to-year at this point. There hasn't been any retirement talk this season, but I thought there was a chance he would go out on top in 2008 and he didn't.
James. Totally agree with your point on the Patriots. Its sort of funny, but if the Steelers are going to make the Super Bowl, they are going to need the Ravens to take care of the dirty work (beating New England) for them.
James Walker (4:35 PM)
I think there's a lot of truth to that statement. It's not impossible for Pittsburgh to beat New England. But I would say the Patriots beat the Steelers 7 or 8 out of 10 times. The odds are stacked against Pittsburgh.
Matt (Miami, Ohio)
What is your feeling on Mangini's job status? Is he fired or coming back?
James Walker (4:36 PM)
It's still to be determined. The Buffalo loss is definitely ugly and will hurt his case. But Mike Holmgren is going to look at everything, not just wins and losses.
Tim (Brookville, PA)
What are the chances Baltimore doesn't make the playoffs?
James Walker (4:37 PM)
Baltimore will get in. But after losing to Pittsburgh, the Ravens probably will play on the road, which is always tough.
Scott (Brockport, NY)
Any word on LaMarr Woodley's contract talks with the Steelers?
James Walker (4:38 PM)
To my knowledge there have been zero talks during the season. That's just how the Steelers operate. Both sides will revisit this during the offseason.
Hey JW, I know you're just an ESPN blogger, but I have to ask: do you ever think that we, as a society, will get to the point where we don't need to add -gate to the end of every tiny controversy in the news? I mean trip-gate? C'MON MAN!
James Walker (4:40 PM)
I wrote "Foot-gate" about a week ago with Ben Roethlisberger. Sorry, Steve.
Can you trade Palmer...?? Maybe to the Vikings or some other team that needs a quarterback, for maybe a 3rd round pick..
James Walker (4:41 PM)
Carson Palmer makes $11.5 million next year in base salary. It's going to be hard convincing other teams to take on that kind of money based on his production.
What has been the recent problem with the Ravens' O line?
James Walker (4:43 PM)
I'm seeing poor communication on blitzes. The Ravens are letting too many players get in free without picking them up. The run blocking has dropped a couple notches as well.
Mike--EE (O'hara, PA)
Can the Steelers win another SB with an offensive line this porous?
James Walker (4:45 PM)
The 2008 O-line was nothing to write home about. But it did stay relatively healthy. This year's O-line is bad and has no depth.
Should I get on board with Colt McCoy? Is he the real deal? I really am not sure he's our future. What do you think?
James Walker (4:46 PM)
He's the best QB the Browns have. I like what I saw, but I obviously need to see more. I've seen enough of Jake Delhomme. I know what type of QB he is at this stage of his career.
Squall (Balamb Garden)
Possible matchups for the Ravens in the first round: KC, SD, Jax, Indy. Please rank those four in the order of which team the Ravens would prefer to see.
James Walker (4:49 PM)
Jacksonville, KC, SD and then Indy waaaaay in the back. I don't care how much they're struggling. Peyton Manning vs. the Ravens is not good for Baltimore.
Hey James I was wondering when are you going to be back on the show "Around the horn"
James Walker (4:50 PM)
I was never on "Around The Horn," Ben. The next time will be the first time.
Mike--EE (O'hara, PA)
Who is the front runner to replace Marvin Lewis?
James Walker (4:51 PM)
A bit early to say until the Bengals make their decision. But two names that keep coming up when I talk to people around the NFL are Mike Zimmer and Hue Jackson.
If Ray Rice got more touches do you think the Ravens would have fewer problems on offense?
James Walker (4:53 PM)
The Ravens are at their best when Rice has it going. I think he needs to see more touches in the running and passing game. But adding Anquan Boldin, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Donte' Stallworth has taken away some opportunities for Rice.
IMO Cameron and Mattison have cost the Ravens more games than anything else....thoughts?
James Walker (4:55 PM)
Man, Ravens fans are tough. The team is 9-4 and heading to the playoffs. Yet I'm hearing more complaints from Baltimore fans than Bengals and Browns fans the past two weeks.
Who is more deserving of the trip to Hawaii, Ahmad Bradshaw or LeSean McCoy?
James Walker (4:56 PM)
That's a tough one. I would say McCoy, but it's close.
Do you think the Ravens and Steelers will meet in the postseason?
James Walker (4:57 PM)
They will be two of the six teams in the AFC field, so there's a 33-percent chance. It's possible. That game would be nasty.
What are the chances that Jake Delhomme starts another down for the Cleveland Browns?
James Walker (4:59 PM)
Delhomme could start this weekend if Colt McCoy (ankle) isn't healthy. I'm hearing McCoy is pretty close to coming back, though. But it's not 100-percent certain.
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Everyone, thanks for your time and great questions. Remember to check out the AFC North blog and AFC North Twitter page for constant updates on the division. Let's get back together next week.