Chat with James Walker
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN.com AFC North blogger James Walker will stop by to chat about Sunday's Super Bowl, as he's been in Dallas all week.
Walker joined ESPN.com in 2008 after three seasons covering the Cleveland Browns for the Columbus Dispatch.
Send your questions now and join James Friday at 4 p.m. ET!
James Walker (4:00 PM)
We have a special Friday edition of the AFC North chat. Let's get right to it.
Marcus Thomas (Pittsburgh,PA)
Since the Pittsburgh Steelers have previously won their recent 2 super bowl appearances in Super Bowl XL and XLIII will this super bowl XLV matchup be their toughest against the packers if you compare the other opponents..the cardinals and the seahawks?
James Walker (4:02 PM)
I think so, Marcus. The previous two Super Bowls the Steelers were considered favorites. This is the first they are underdogs and not expected to win. Green Bay also has a great defense to go with its high-powered offense and plays well indoors. There are a lot of things in favor of the Packers.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
If you had to build a franchise around Aaron Rodgers or Ben Roethlisberger who would you pick?
James Walker (4:03 PM)
I don't think you can go wrong with either. But I would take the player who's won the most Super Bowls. Roethlisberger isn't coventional. You need to form your offense around him. But he wins big games, which is how QBs are ultimately judged.
DJ (San Diego)
What do you think of Jay Gruden? what kind of offense can we expect from him?
James Walker (4:05 PM)
I'm not particularly impressed by the hire. He was last coaching in the UFL, and before that was with his older brother on his staff as an assistant. Gruden says he wants to have a physical running game. It's still to be determined if the Bengals will have some West Coast things in their offense.
Dave (Venice Beach)
where are ya JW?
James Walker (4:07 PM)
Right now I'm in the ESPN headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas.
Rich (New Jersey)
Are the Steelers going to win a close one or confortably & who'll have an MVP performance?
James Walker (4:07 PM)
I see this being another close Super Bowl. Both teams have interesting matchups. I picked Pittsburgh to win 27-24.
Tony (Cleveland, OH)
Hey James, cleveland sports fan here, so obviously with the state of the Cavs right now and the Indians rebuilding for the 6th time in 7 years, nothing else to get excited about except for Browns football baby! As for my question, do you believe the Browns should go hard after Kevin Kolb, or does Colt deserve another year to show what he can do?
James Walker (4:08 PM)
That ship has sailed, Tony. The Browns are invested in Colt McCoy. They had some interest in Kolb last year but Philly thought he was the future of the franchise. Cleveland has moved on.
Ross Williams (New Castle,PA)
In the next decade which city is most likely to lure an NFL team like for example Los Angeles is their any other city that would love to support an NFL Franchise?
James Walker (4:10 PM)
You're always inclined to take the field, Ross, because of sheer numbers. But I think LA will get a team eventually. Too big a sports market not to have an NFL team.
If the Ravens re-sign Gaither, will that take O-line off the table for a 1st round pick? Even with Gaither/Oher at RT, I think the right side of our line needs upgrading, and Gaither makes me very nervous.
James Walker (4:11 PM)
I would be surprised if Baltimore re-signs Gaither. I just think there are too many differences there from what happened last year. Baltimore would be more likely to fill the OT position in the draft or free agency.
Can Doug Legursky hold down the fort for Markice long/well enough for Pittsburgh to win this game?
James Walker (4:12 PM)
Doug would need a lot of help, Nate, especially against Green Bay's B.J. Raji. The Steelers will have to great creative.
DJ (San Diego)
In your opinion, can Pat Shurmur make Colt McCoy into a good or great QB?
James Walker (4:13 PM)
Shurmur is credited for helping Donovan McNabb and Sam Bradford. If anything, I think helping McCoy's development will be his strongest asset as a coach.
It seems like Flacco is not content with Ravens, any possibility of Bengals' situation?
James Walker (4:15 PM)
Not at all, C.J. The Ravens are going to the playoffs every year and in contention for division titles. The situations are totally different. Joe Flacco just thought Jim Zorn should be retained. Nothing more, nothing less.
High scoring SB, or low scoring?
James Walker (4:16 PM)
Middle scoring. My prediction was in the 20s for each team.
AJ (OHIO )
Who wins more games... The Cavs of this Season or the Browns of Next Season??
James Walker (4:17 PM)
Cavs have much more games. They're the safe bet unless the Browns plan to go 16-0.
Jason (Santa Fe)
Hey James, love your blog. What do you think are the chances that the Browns will work to keep Lawrence Vickers?
James Walker (4:18 PM)
That situation is up in the air, Jason. I talked to Vickers at the end of the season and he didn't see too sure he was coming back. A lot of teams will have interest in him, because he's one of the top FBs in the NFL. He will get paid by someone.
Mike (Lubbock, Tx)
Welcome to Texas JW, we are glad to have you!!! Do you think there as any possiblity the Steelers can run away with this one early?
James Walker (4:19 PM)
Thanks for having me, Mike. There's always a chance, especially if the game and hype is too big for Green Bay. But I didn't get that feeling from them this week. The Packers seem pretty relaxed.
Everybody is talking about the Packers' fast recievers, but what about Mike Wallace, Emmannuel Sanders, and Antonio Brown?
James Walker (4:20 PM)
Mike Wallace is the fastest player in this game. Imagine how fast he will be on the Cowboys' turf Sunday.
James, you really think the Cavs will win 8 more games this season? I think the Browns could tie them at 8-8 in 2011 with another solid draft by Holmgren/Heckert.
James Walker (4:21 PM)
The Cavs will get lucky and get on a two-game streak here and there. They can't lose every game...I don't think.
How much impact do you think the Jay Gruden hire will have on Palmer? If any. And do you see us taking a QB in the draft?
James Walker (4:24 PM)
That remains to be seen. I don't think making a change hurts. The question is how much will it help, if at all? I don't think Gruden brings the Bengals much closer to contending for a Super Bowl.
James Walker (4:24 PM)
And Carson Palmer wants to win.
Do the Browns finally realize they need a #1 receiver?
James Walker (4:25 PM)
The Browns have known that, but they haven't done anything about it. I think this is the year.
Michael (Pittsburgh, PA)
How much are the Steelers loving that they are (relatively) heavy underdogs for this game! Hines will get to play his favorite 'no respect' card again.
James Walker (4:27 PM)
They are relishing in it, without a doubt. The Steelers have had an "Us against the world mentality" all year since Ben Roethlisberger's supension. I lost count the number of times I've been reminded I picked them third in the AFC North.
Mike Wallace and Troy Polamalu have been relatively quiet so far in the playoffs. Do you see either as having a big game?
James Walker (4:27 PM)
I predict both are due for a big play or two, Pete.
Hey JW! Who do you think gets Pouncey's roster spot?
James Walker (4:28 PM)
If not Aaron Smith, an offensive lineman (Chris Scott or Tony Hills).
James, with this year's SB in Dallas and upcoming games in Indy and NY, do you think there is a legit chance that the AFC North could host a SB in the coming years?
James Walker (4:29 PM)
I don't see it anytime soon. Baltimore and Pittsburgh had nice stadiums but both are outdoors. So that hurts. There's virtually no chance for Cleveland and Cincinnati.
How could/should the Steelers best respond to the predicted 4 or 5 receiver sets from the Packers?
James Walker (4:30 PM)
I think blitzing Packers and forcing a big turnover with little protection would be a big deterrent.
A big debate here in C-Town is which franchise is closest to contention. So how long before the browns are "in contention" again?
James Walker (4:32 PM)
All of them are pretty far away. But the Browns have a few things in place where you can see they are building. The other teams, I'm not sure what or how they're trying to build.
Did many people around the league expect Pat Shurmur to get a head coaching job so soon? As a fan, I know Surmur was the last of the canidates that I expected to get the job.
James Walker (4:34 PM)
To most people I've talked to around the league, the Pat Shurmur hire was a big surprise. It will be interesting to see how it works out.
Remember when you picked the Steelers to finish 3rd in the AFC North this year?
James Walker (4:35 PM)
On Monday I can say "That was last season. I'm focusing on this upcoming season."
WWhy is everyone suddenly on GBs bandwagon? People keep saying Steelers D is gonna get abused. I don't see it.
James Walker (4:36 PM)
Every year there's usually a hot team. The Steelers were favored to beat Seattle in the Super Bowl when they were a wild-card a few years ago. It happens.
Do the Steelers go to 5 WR sets to spread out GB?
James Walker (4:39 PM)
The Steelers will do some of it, but not any more than usual. Green Bay's strength is its secondary, so it wouldn't be smart to try to constant be the Packers that way.
How do the Steelers plan on containing Clay Matthews? Do you think they can trust Flozell 1-on-1 or do they need to chip him with a back or TE?
James Walker (4:40 PM)
There will be a lot of "help" given in this game. I expect the RBs and TEs to stay in a bit more than usual to help with some mismatches.
James Walker (4:43 PM)
By the way, both Maurkice Pouncey and Aaron Smith will not play in Super Bowl XLV, Mike Tomlin said this afternoon.
Dan (New York)
Even if Smith was healthy, do you see Ziggy Hood (with the way he has been playing lately) as being a significant drop off from Smith
James Walker (4:44 PM)
Hood has played very well, but I think a healthy Aaron Smith is tough to match. He's the prototype 3-4 DE.
Do you think the PIT defense will target Rodgers and try to get him out of the game early? If Flynn has to play, does GB have any chance at all?
James Walker (4:46 PM)
Not in a way to intentionally knock him out the game. But the Steelers do want to hit him and make things uncomfortable. A lot of Green Bay's plays are timing based, and if Rodgers is knocked around and off his game that timing will be off.
Do you see anyone on Pittsburg's roster right now who could possibly develop into a replacement for Hampton, or is that something they still need to address in the draft?
James Walker (4:46 PM)
Not right now. Chris Hoke is a good backup but that's his ideal role. The Steelers will have to draft an eventual replacement, but Hampton continues to play at a high level.
Good thing the Browns passed on Clay Matthews. The fans would have hated to have him.:/
James Walker (4:47 PM)
Um, well, Alex Mack isn't a bad player. But Matthews would have been a home run.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
More likely: A KO/punt return for a TD, or a pick 6/fumble return for a TD?
James Walker (4:48 PM)
Since James Harrison had a 99-yard interception return for a touchdown two years ago, I say chances are that probably won't happen in back-to-back Steelers Super Bowls. Go with the kick return.
When you look at the last decade at the 3 Super Bowl teams the Steelers have had was the 2008 team probably the best one? Nobody was beating that team in the postseason not even the Patriots with Tom Brady I don't think would have beaten them.
James Walker (4:53 PM)
It's hard to say which team is the best. I've been around all three and there were certain strengths to each. We have to wait until the final result Sunday before we make any comparisons.
I see what you are saying, but a C over a game changing passrusher, really? Robiskie and MoMass over Wallace was nice too. Way to go Mangenius.
James Walker (4:56 PM)
The 2009 draft was not very good for the Browns. The team could be well ahead of their current pace if they hit on more picks that year.
Jackson Massie (WI)
WHo do you think will win the superbowl and why and who will be the MVP? I hope packers WIN!
James Walker (4:59 PM)
This game could go either way, but I think experience could play a factor. I picked a close win for Pittsburgh but I wouldn't be surprised either way.
James Walker (4:59 PM)
Everyone thanks again for the time. Enjoy the Super Bowl.