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November 9, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Jamison Hensley

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:00 PM)

Thank you all for joining the chat. We'll kick this off right now.

Nathaniel Kashdan (Anchorage)

What do you make of the Bengals? It's rather unfortunate that they're in the same division as two behemoths...

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:02 PM)

Nathaniel ... The Bengals have surprised everyone. I even think they've surprised themselves, too. Let's be honest, they looked like the worst team on paper. It's usually a recipe for disaster when your top two offensive players are rookies. But the Bengals have been un-Bengal like this season. Dalton doesn't make many mistakes, and the defense continues to force opposing teams into them.

kenny (Baltimore Maryland) [via mobile]

what 3 afc and nfc teams do you think that could have a chance to make to the super bowl this year?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:05 PM)

Kenny ... My three teams in the AFC: Ravens, Steelers and Patriots. You can never count out Brady, and the Ravens and Steelers clearly have the best defenses in the NFL. These are the top three teams in the AFC. As far as the NFC, I would go with Packers, Saints and Giants. The Packers, of course, are the best team in the NFL. The Saints and Giants look strong at times but their losses to bottom-tier teams are concerning.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

What is the Hardest NFC Team that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face this season?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:06 PM)

Since the Steelers play the NFC West, this one is a layup. It's the 49ers. Hasn't San Francisco already clinched that division by now? Still, I don't think the 49ers will make much noise in the playoffs.

Nathaniel Kashdan (Anchorage)

Colt McCoy > Joe Flacco

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:07 PM)

Nathaniel ... Not sure what you're watching in Alaska, but you might want to get that TV fixed. Flacco just drove a team 92 yards against the Steelers defense. McCoy might not get that in a game against Pittsburgh this year.

Tom (OH)

Do you think the Bengals will make the playoffs?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:08 PM)

Tom ... It will be close. The schedule gets much tougher for the Bengals. There's four games against Pittsburgh and Baltimore along with the game against Houston. At this point, I feel like the Bengals will get in by one game or lose out by one game.

Brad (Berkeley, CA)

How can the league do a better job of officiating helmet to helmet calls? It seems that refs are missing things. I dislike the reduction of physicality, but if the rules exist, there needs to be consistent application, in part to evaluate whether penalties that are supposed to help with injuries are actually making a difference.

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:09 PM)

Brad: I'm the wrong person to ask. I feel like the NFL has taken the physical play out of the game. The game is so fast that it's hard enough for me to follow it. I can only imagine if I had to react to that same speed and make sure I'm within the rules. Seems impossible to me.

Donnie Iris (Atl)

Assuming the Steelers defensive gameplan (shut down the run, make the rookie beat you) works, what kind of performance do you see Dalton having on Sunday?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:11 PM)

Donnie: Dalton has played very well against pressure this year. That's what has set him apart from other rookies. But this will be his toughest test yet. I see him having a game hovering around 200 yards passing with one touchdown and one interception. Not great, but not terrible.

Jon (Fort Lauderdale, FL)

Has it been disclosed how much Ray Lewis was fined by the league for his hit on Ward?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:12 PM)

$20,000. I would also like to be there when the NFL comes to collect it.

Tony (Cubicle)

Scouts Inc. preview has the Bengals by 10 over the Steelers? Even as a diehard Bengals fan, that score surprises me.

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:13 PM)

Tony: The only way the Bengals win by 10 is if their defense forces multiple touchdowns. It will be hard for the Bengals to consistently drive up and down the field on this Steelers defense.

Otis (Trotwood, Ohio)

Can the Bengals have any success in the running game this week against the Steelers?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:14 PM)

Otis: The initial thought, of course, is to say no. But I like the Bengals offensive line. I think Cincinnati will have more success than many expect. But let's not get carried away. Benson isn't going to run for 100 yards.

Flaps101 (Hagerstown, MD)

Diesel formation (Shotgun, no-huddle, 2 TE's), is this the future for the Ravens, or just a temporary wrinkle until the Ravens get play-action working again?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:15 PM)

Flaps: This is more than a temporary wrinkle. The Ravens are really high on both tight ends, Dickson and Pitta. Cam Cameron loves to get them on the field at the same time.

Rick David Kelley (Westmonster, MD)

Realisticly speaking, how does the Bengals defense match up to the Ravens and Steelers defenses? Could they really give the Bengals a legit shot in the playoffs if they went today?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:16 PM)

RDK: Better than you would think. The impressive part of the Bengals' defense is how it can take the ball away. The Bengals had three straight games of scoring a defensive TD and could have had four if Dunlap's TD wasn't taken away. The Bengals are creating more plays than the Steelers these days.

Reglidan (Charlotte, NC)

You graded McCoy as a 'D' and Flacco as a 'B' this morning. How do you justify a 2 letter grade difference between the two when Flacco has been just as guilty of everything that you cite as reasons for grading McCoy down over this 8 game span? Is playing on the same team as Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed really worth 2 full letter grades?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:19 PM)

Reglidan: You have to be joking, right? Flacco has thrown for 300 yards in three of his past four games. He just led a 92-yard game-winning drive against the Steelers. McCoy hasn't accomplished anything close to this. Look at the passing yards, and more importantly, the wins. At least I got a good laugh from this.

Andrew (Chapel Hill, NC)

Jamison, is there anyway you could see the Ravens finishing with anything worse than an 11-5 record (vs. Cincy, vs. SF, @ SD, @ Cincy -- being the remaining challenging games)? Moreover, what playoff seed do you think they'll achieve knowing that they have a moderately easy schedule and that they own the tiebreakers over Pittsburgh, Houston, and the New York Jets?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:21 PM)

Andrew: My advice is to stop predicting what the Ravens will do. Just look at how they performed against two one-win teams. In previous years under Harbaugh, the Ravens prided themselves in taking care of business against lower-tier teams. Not the case this year. The Ravens "should" win at least 10 games. They really "should" win 13. But who really knows which team will show up.

Mike Zimmer (Cincy)

What should my defensive gameplan look like against the Steelers?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:23 PM)

Hey Mike, long time, no talk. The game plan should be just like the one used by the Ravens. Rush four players and try to contain Roethlisberger in the pocket. You don't want to blitz and put corners on an island against those speedy receivers.

Jeff (Afghanistan )

Foster / Tate... two one thousand yard seasons? Best one two punch since.......?????

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:23 PM)

Off the top of my head, when I think of tandems, I think Mack-Byner.

DAN (LEXINGTON KY)

THE BENGALS ALWAYS PLAY RAVENS, STELERS TOUGH,WHY IS IT SUCH A SHOCK.IF WE SPLIT WITH THIS YEAR.YOU COVERED RAVENS,WE BEAT THEM ALOT.

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:24 PM)

I don't answer when someone shouts. Next question.

Mike (PA) [via mobile]

Do you see pitt. bal. playing again in january?And what your thoughts on steelers seconday after last weeks game,weak or just a bad game

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:26 PM)

The AFC championship game will be played by two of these three teams: Ravens, Steelers and Patriots. So, we'll see if it will be Round 3 between AFC North rivals. As far as the secondary, the Steelers didn't have their best game but it was far from the worst. Pittsburgh still held the Ravens to 23 points (three points coming from a long FG). Yes, the last drive was a punch to the gut. But you have to be impressed with how the Steelers have held up in the defensive backfield this season.

Tony (Cubicle)

Speaking of Dunlap...any updates on his hammie? Bengals need to be at full strength!

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:27 PM)

Tony: I don't believe he's practicing today. My guess is he'll be questionable for the game.

madison m (in class)

thoughts on the kc chiefs any chance at play offs

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:27 PM)

Wrong division. Sorry.

Mike newyork [via mobile]

Whats your prediction on the ravens-seahawks game and who will have the better game the ravens d or offense?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:28 PM)

Mike: It shouldn't be close. I've seen the Seahawks twice this year and they have been the worst team I've seen in person. Always go with the Ravens D since 2000.

Jason (Bmore)

I think it's ludicrous that Ryan Clark could be fined 40k for his hit on Dickson when Ray is only fined 20k for a helmet to helmet that concussed Hines. Funny how Goodell seems to target the steelers in a negative fashion.

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:29 PM)

Jason: I'm not sure about this, but it could be that Clark is a repeat offender. Again, not 100 percent on this. But that would be an explanation.

Adam (DC)

Are you as upset as I am that the division is basically over for the Steelers? The NFL Schedulers ruined the excitement for the three way division race.

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:30 PM)

Adam: Division is far from over for the Steelers. If they lose to the Bengals, it would be cause for concern. They would fall to 0-3 against the AFC North leaders with six games left. Still, I've seen bigger comebacks.

SmittyC (Da Nati)

Why does the question come up "are the Bengals real?" They lost by five to the 49ers and beat the Bills. The Steelers are only 1-3 against solid competition. The Steelers have also looked less impressive against the Jags and Colts then the Bengals did. I predict the Bengals win by 4 and still get no love, which is what this Bengal team thrives on.

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:32 PM)

Smitty: The difference is the Steelers are a proven commodity. Their quarterback has two rings and the defense is always in the top 5. The Bengals are starting a second-round pick (albeit a good one) and their defense is hot and cold from year to year.

Matt (Baltimore)

Do you think the AFCN will be decided prior to week 17? or will the division race go down to the wire?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:32 PM)

I see the wild-card race coming down to the final week. The division, in my mind, could be settled in Week 15 or 16.

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:33 PM)

Thank you all for a good chat. I have to go and finish up some blogs. Hope to see everyone here next week. Enjoy the games!