Chat with Jamison Hensley
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN.com AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley stops by to chat.
Hensley joined ESPN.com in 2011 after covering the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun for 11 years. A graduate of the University of Maryland, he lives in the Baltimore area with his wife.
Send your questions now and join Hensley Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET!
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:01 PM)
Thank you all for stopping by for today's chat. We have two games in the AFC North this Sunday. Bengals are at Ravens. Browns host Jaguars. The Steelers are on their bye. So, let's start ...
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What AFC North Team do you think will beat the San Francisco 49ers this season?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:02 PM)
Still not completely sold on the 49ers. Not sure how they can come back with Alex Smith if another team gets out to a big lead. The Ravens and Steelers are better teams. Both should beat the 49ers. Of course, with the Ravens, you never know which team is going to show.
howard (georgetown ky.)
Do you think the bengals can win this week,since they have won the last 3 out of 4.
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:03 PM)
Howard: The one thing about the Bengals is they're not intimidated about playing in Baltimore. I believe Cincy has won four of its past seven trips here. A big factor is whether receiver A.J. Green will play. Should be a competitive game.
The first three years of Harbaugh's tenure in Baltimore was marked by the Ravens beating teams with losing records, but this year they have lost 3 times to subpar teams. What's changed?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:05 PM)
Chris: It comes down to focus. The Ravens just can't focus on beating the best teams. They have to focus on being the best team week after week. Shameless plug here: http://espn.go.com/blog/afcnorth/post/_/id/35841/ravens-lack-championship-focus
TheTooSmooth aka TheSmoothTroll (Las Vegas, Nevada)
What's good JH? Keep up the good work, loving the blogs. My question regards the bye week for the Steelers. Have you spoken to Mike Tomlin about the bye week woes this season? They have a great opportunity to heal up and surge into the playoffs, but so far this season, teams off the bye aren't doing so hot. Any thoughts?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:06 PM)
Haven't spoken to Tomlin this week. After the win in Cincinnati, he said he's never met a bye that he didn't like. Having the late bye really helps the Steelers for the stretch run. If they can get Woodley after this break, Pittsburgh pass rush will be very dangerous.
Mike W (Chicago)
With Cotchery and Sanders ahead of Ward on the depth chart, do you see him retiring after this season and joining the team as a WR coach going forward?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:08 PM)
Mike W ... Not sure what Ward is thinking right now. I still see him making an impact at times throughout the season. Pittsburgh might want to use him when defenses are playing zone. Ward knows how to get open against that type of coverage. But you have to be impressed with his team-first mentality. Let me put it this way, I wouldn't be surprised if Ward decided to end his career with the Steelers and retire. But I want to be clear: that is my speculation.
Michael Spivey (Beaumont Texas)
Do you think Pittsburgh still have a chance to win the AFC north eventhough they lost to the Ravens twice?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:09 PM)
Michael: Of course, the Steelers have a shot. The Ravens have an easy remaining schedule, but they haven't proven they can beat the bad teams. Baltimore is so unpredictable that you can't rule out the Steelers winning the North. Despite getting swept, Pittsburgh is the more consistent team.
Brock Kintner (Clarksville,IN)
the bengals proved a lot last weak against the steelers including the pass rush, but my major concern heading into the ravens game is hall being out. So my question is, If the bengals can generate the same pass rush against flacco will hall being out be a major factor if jones cant play?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:11 PM)
Brock: The Bengals d-line is what will negate the loss of Hall. Cincy has received great pass rush from its front four. If the Bengals can put pressure on Flacco, that will take the pressure off a secondary that is without its best cornerback. By the way, I hear Carlos Dunlap returned to practice today.
Jamison. What would be your top 3 things that the Browns need to improve upon to make them more competitive in the division?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:12 PM)
Byron: This might be too obvious, so I apologize. But the Browns need to stop the run and establish a running game. The other area is finding a playmaker in the passing game. Cleveland is losing games at the point of attack, and it can't make up for that because it lacks explosion in the passing game.
Bernard (Phila, PA)
Of the 3 AFC North contenders, which team has the most upside potential thru season-end (ie, which team do you see as most likely to rip off a stroing of 5 or 6 straight wins to clinch the division)?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:14 PM)
Bernard: The Steelers, Ravens and Bengals all have favorable schedules left. Because the Steelers have beaten the teams they're supposed to beat, I expect Pittsburgh as the most likely team to finish strong.
Bernard (Phila, PA)
If you are Mike Tomlin, do you stick with Cotchery and Sanders (upon is return from surgery) ahead of Ward?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:15 PM)
Bernard: I would go with speed over experience at this point. Of course, like I said earlier, Ward can still help the Steelers against defenses that play primarily zone. And Ward could be a factor in the red zone as well. You have to be tough to make catches in that area.
how serious is big bens injury to his throwing thumb?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:16 PM)
From what I hear, not serious. It's nothing new. He's played with a broken thumb before. Until Roethlisberger's play is affected, I think the thumb is a non-issue.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Jamison, with the "hot and cold" play of the Ravens, do you feel they may be in danger of falling out of playoff contention? Why are they not running Ray Rice more?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:17 PM)
Al: Despite the inconsistent play, I would be shocked if the Ravens didn't make the playoffs. The Ravens aren't running Rice more because they feel like they need to throw to play catch-up in games. I don't agree. But that's their reasoning.
Tom (Cleveland, Ohio)
I see you are similar to James walker.. top seven questions you respond toare non-Browns. When can ESPN resporters show a little luv for a team that is re-building the right way and will be more competitive nextyear?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:19 PM)
Tom: The first seven questions I answered just happened to be the first seven questions asked. Imagine that. If you're looking for love, you're following the wrong sport. No crying in baseball and no love in football.
Brian Reed (Gettysburg, pa)
With no clear cut #1 in the AFC this year, list your top 5 in the AFC
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:20 PM)
My top 5 right now in the AFC: Steelers, Patriots, Ravens, Bengals, Raiders.
Andy Dalton (CINCY)
iam i better than Cam Newton
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:21 PM)
Hey Andy ... Not sure if you're better. But you definitely have more wins. No disputing that.
AFC North Final standings PIT CIN BAL CLE....agree??
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:22 PM)
No, don't agree. Steelers, Ravens, Bengals and Browns. Of course, all is subject to change.
Jeremy (Cincinnati, OH)
Considering the current streak of injuries, which do you think takes preference for the Bengals in next year's draft with two picks in the 1st round - more talent to back-up Green at the WR position, or a CB to make up for the loss of Leon Hall and the (poor) decision to let J.Joe leave the city?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:24 PM)
Jeremy: I usually wait until December before talking draft. It's bad form to talk draft for a team that you think can go to the playoffs. Be excited about the season, not a draft six months away. But I would almost guarantee the Bengals will go for defense in the first round next year.
Brian (Dover, DE)
How would you rate the progress of the Steelers OL compared to earlier in the season?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:25 PM)
Brian: Pouncey is now healthy, Starks is playing LT and Gilbert is making great strides at RT. I never thought the Steelers line would progress like this after watching Pittsburgh earlier this season.
Are the Steelers becoming the new NE by controlling the game with the pass?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:26 PM)
Deanna: It sure seems that way. Unlike the Patriots, who don't have a deep threat, the Steelers can still go long with Roethlisberger to Wallace. That's where the two offenses are different.
Brian (Dover, DE)
What do you make of William Gay? Goat one week and hero the next. Is he an asset or liability to the Steelers?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:27 PM)
Brian: Gay is an average corner. So, you'll get some bad plays and some good ones. In reality, very few NFL teams have two great cornerbacks.
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:29 PM)
Thank you all for joining the chat today. Let's do it same time next week. I appreciate all the great questions. Have fun watching the games on Sunday.