Chat with Gary Horton
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, Scouts Inc.'s Gary Horton stops in to talk about the NFL season and other news from around the league.
Horton spent 10 years in the NFL as a scout and another 10 years at the college level as an assistant coach and recruiter. He is the founder and most seasoned member of the Scouts Inc. staff, and his extensive experience at all levels of football make him an excellent talent evaluator.
Send your questions now and join Horton Monday at 4 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (4:01 PM)
We're getting Gary!
Gary Horton (4:02 PM)
If you don't like tonight's game, then you don't like the NFL. This is a great late season game between two elite teams. What I really like about where we're at in the season is we have finally identified who these teams are. That makes it more fun as we go down the stretch as we anticipate who's going to be there and who's not.
Tony (Pt Jeff, NY)
Jets-Pats teams talent offset each other, but coaching and homefield go to the Pats- agree?
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
Well, both of these coaches are excellent. But with the Jets, you know what they're going to do. Their game plan doesn't change. They're going to be aggressive on defense and we know their offensive philosophy. The interesting thing about the Patriots is Bill Belichick adjusts his game plan week to week and he's had 11 days to prepare. That makes this a great chess match. I don't think the homefield is that big of a deal because the Jets are cocky enough that they won't be intimidated.
Ed Halverson (Milwaukee WI)
Why are the Rams not being talked about? They were predicted to do nothing this year, but yet are 6-6. Not too far from the Colts.
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
I think we kept expecting the Rams to fade down the stretch and they haven't. But keep in mind they're in the worst division in football. They play hard and the combo on offense of Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson keep them in every game. For a young team, they just don't make a lot of mistakes. They play a lot of clean games and that adds up to success.
Dave (Cleveland, Ohio)
Given that he's led the Patriots to a 9-2 record despite having the 31st ranked defense, is Tom Brady the best QB in the NFL?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
It certainly helps. It shows that he can carry this team on his back, but there are probably 2-3 other guys that can. What I love about Brady is his ability to adjust to different offensive philosophies. He always knows exactly what he needs from this offense. A lot of times he's doing it without a great running game.
Do you think the Patritos will win the Super Bowl?
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
I think they're playing like we expected them to play. I think the winner of tonight's game probably has an early inside track to the Super Bowl, because homefield advantage in January is going to be important, especially if a team from the East has it. I think that the road to Dallas and the Super Bowl will go through Foxborough. I'm not sure that a team can go in there in January and beat them. But having said that, it's difficult to go to the Super Bowl with a bad defense. I'd feel better if they were a middle of the road group with a high powered offense. However, I do think that they're slowly improving on defense.
phil (san deigo)
What is going on with the Chargers they looked pretty bad against the Raiders?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
I was absolutely in shock that in a game with this much importance and they played so poorly. Because they couldn't tackle, the Raiders were able to pound the ball on the ground and dominate time of possession. That's a key stat because it keeps Rivers and the explosive offense on the sidelines. Oakland, there's no other way to say it, physically beat them up. That shouldn't happen in December.
Thoughts on last night's Steelers-Ravens game and what lies ahead for the two teams?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I think it was exactly what we thought it would be: a physical game on both sides of the ball. Not a lot of explosive plays. Both teams hoping they could get out of it without a lot of injuries, which was not the case. I think they are so evenly matched, we will likely see them again in January. Both teams have a recipe for playoff success, which is control the football and play good defense.
Jason (Long Island, NY)
MoJo a potential MVP candidate? He has really helped the Jags to an impressive lead in the AFC South where no one else thought they would be close to
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I think he's probably the MVP of the Jaguars and certainly a potential pro bowl back. But I don't think he would be close to MVP of the league. There are too many QBs having great years. But I love what I see when he runs. He has a low center of gravity. He gives you great effort week in week out behind an OL that's not that good. What I love about MJD is he's consistent and you know what you're going to get each week.
Squall (Balamb Garden)
Can the Chiefs do any damage in the playoffs if/when they get there, or is it all East and North in the AFC this year?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
No, I think the Chiefs have a legitimate chance to be a real player in the playoffs, because of their identity. They have a terrific run game with two backs. That's not likely to change. Because of it, Matt Cassel doesn't have to make every play and he has been very efficient with a lot of low risk thros that move the chains and their defense is starting to come on. They have the style of play that can handle bad weather outdoors in January. They have a little bit of a swagger for some reason. I like them better the more I watch them on film each week.
Doesn't the final game of the NFL season, Raiders at KC for AFC West title have a great sound to it.
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
First of all, we have to get past KC and San Diego this week. That's a big game. But as for your question, who would have thought that Oakland and KC in Week 17 would have any meaning at all? Yet it may, especially because there is probably not going to be a wild card coming out of this division, so you either win it or go home. The AFC West has turned into a fun division to watch as they beat each other up.
Matt (Santa Barbara)
Are the chargers too soft to make a run in the AFC playoffs? They got physically beat up by the Raiders again and the Steelers, Jets and Ravens all play similar to the Raiders
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
I totally agree with you. I didn't think so until yesterday. I thought they were back on track. Losing to the Raiders was bad enough but how they lost was alarming. When you play that physical style of football and run the ball well, you take it out of Rivers' hands. That's their only chance for success. When you're looking at the Chargers down the stretch, the number of offensive possessions they have each week will be critical to their success or failure.
Is Champ Bailey still that good? Does Larry Fitzgerald have a chance against a top CB with that crew at QB?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
I still think Champ Bailey is an elite cover guy. I haven't watched the film yet, but he is getting a lot of credit for shutting down Bowe. The frustrating thing about Fitzgerald is there is no chemistry between him and his QB. He rarely gets the ball in stride and as we all know he has a great ability to run with the ball after the catch. To his credit, he does not complain and he does his job. I think he has the worst QB situation in the NFL. It's a shame to see his talents wasted.
Dan (San Jose)
Gary, it seems to me that the Seahawks or Rams would have to pull at least one minor upset (e.g. Hawks over Niners in SF or Rams over KC at home) to get to 8 wins. Who do you see getting there? If nobody, do you think the 49ers could sneak in by winning their 3 remaining divisional games and getting to 7-9?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
I don't think there's any chance the 49ers will be a factor because they just don't play with any consistency. All of these teams have flaws. I have been really frustrated by Seattle because I thought a couple of weeks ago that they could win simply by having Matt Hasselbeck have big throwing days. But they don't dominant at home like they used to, yet they come up with a big run game Sunday, though it was against Carolina. I think St. Louis is an up and coming team, but I don't think they're battle tested. In my opinion, this division comes down to those two teams matching up, I believe in Seattle, the final day of the season. I believe that will be for the division championship.
Hey Gary...Were would u put Ben Rothlisbeger in the Quarterback Pecking Order...Thanx?
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
I think he's an excellent NFL QB. I don't think he's up with Brady, Manning (not the Manning we've seen the last three weeks), Brees class. But I think he is exactly the right fit for the Steelers. He's a tough guy. I think he's probably the best in the league in extending the play with his feet and the inability of defenders to bring him down. It's fun to watch this team make big passing plays off of broken plays. I think Big Ben is a perfect fit for this offense.
gary,where do you think randy moss will end up after this season?
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
I think he still has some really good skills. I don't think he would want to go out on this note. I don't think he'll be in Tennessee. What shocks me is how little he's being targeted in the passing game. He's just a non-factor in Tennessee, almost an after thought.
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
It is amazing to me to see how far he has fallen from his New England days. But I would think a guy like Moss would look at a guy like T.O. and the year he's having and think the same thing, that he can play for a couple more years.
Tony (Pt Jeff, NY)
Jets- winning ugly this year is part of learning how to win OR a step back that hasn't shown up in wins/losses yet?
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
To be honest, this is something that has puzzled me the whole year. Part of me thinks that they play down to the level of their competition and that's why they have so many close games. Then part of me thinks they really have good character and they just know how to win those close games. I think this is a team that has a big swagger. When you play with that cockiness, it's hard to bring it every week. I think New England gets their best shot tonight. When they play an opponent they feel is inferior, it is hard for them to get motivated. I think they've been lucky in some of their close losses that they haven't been upset.
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
I can't wait to watch tonight's game because there are so many storylines. It's really tough for me because I'm going to miss the Country Music Awards show, which I can't believe they scheduled for the same night as this. If I were a guy who knew how to TiVo, I'd be OK. But it should be a great game for fans.