Chat with Gary Horton
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN's NFL "Caveman" himself, Gary Horton, stops in to talk some football and other news from around the league.
Horton, from Scouts Inc., works year-round on ESPN's NFL-related shows, breaking down film, earning him his Caveman nickname.
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 (4:02 PM)
We've got Gary!
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Gary, Great game between Payton Manning & Tom Brady last night, was that a possible AFC Championship preview?
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
I think there is a good chance of that. I looked at the future schedules this morning and the Patriots especially had the easiest path to the Super Bowl. They really don't play an elite team the rest of the way. While the Broncos would likely have at least the No. 2 seed. I think that scenario, if you were guessing is probably the most likely: Denver at New England. It would be surprising if any of the other AFC teams got into the picture, at least that deep into the playoffs.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Hi Gary - has Arizona's success surprised you and can they keep it up?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
We know they have a good defense. It was excellent a year ago and they've maintained that this year. What has surprised me is how the passing game has come along. This is a very complex Bruce Arians offense. It just took the players a long time to really grasp it. Now it looks more natural. Carson Palmer is throwing more short and safe passes. He's developed really good rapport with Larry Fitzgerald. This is a team that should command respect down the stretch. Although as well as they are playing, their remaining schedule is really tough.
Seahawks are primed to have the top seed in the NFC. Do you see anyone being able to go up there to the 12th man and winning?
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
Right now, I don't. Although we will get a good preview next Monday when New Orleans visits. But if you like the Seattle team you see now, think about this: they are getting both of their starting OTs back, which they have been missing. They now have their lead full back blocking for Marshawn Lynch. And they have Percy Harvin to add to their passing game. This offense will be even better in the next month. I don't know how anybody can beat them in Seattle in January as I look at the NFC.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi, The 5-6 Tennessee Titans currently holds onto the final playoff spot, or will Pittsburgh, Baltimore, San Diego, NY Jets or Miami capture the last spot in the AFC Playoff picture at the end of the season?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I think you have to look a little bit at the record, but probably more how a team is playing. Of all those teams you mentioned, I think there is no question that San Diego is the hottest. As I look at the other 5-6 teams, I don't think it's really that close. Although you could make a little case for Baltimore or Pittsburgh to emerge. Of all those 5-6 teams, the Chargers are the most explosive and they have the best chance to beat elite teams. In fact, their record should be much better than it is now. But they just lost some bizarre games.
raygordon reid ( COLUMBUS OHIO 43215)
QUESTION TO GARY CAVEMAn horton at 4.3o pm thursday pack orlions
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
Without Aaron Rodgers, the Packers aren't really the same team. Even though they're running the ball better, they shouldn't have a chance versus Detroit. But this Lions team is one of the most frustrating that I have seen. They should have put away this division a long time ago, because they are basically healthy. Right now they have superior talent, and yet, right now, they're letting Chicago and Green Bay stay in the race. It looks like the same old Lions as they continue to tease us and not play up to what you expect. I can't imagine them losing at home to this Green Bay team, but they've surprised us before with a lackluster effort.
Nobody to throw it too, does that make a difference when playing QB? Can we put all the woes of the Niners offense on Kaep as his wr's can't cause any seperation?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
I think your question is fair. I think a lot of the 49ers problems are at the QB position. But when you look at them on film, they're pretty easy to defend, because they don't have a lot of vertical threats. You don't have to defend sideline to sideline and that allows you to play pretty basic schemes in the box. Kaepernick likes to throw the deep ball, but his best option right now may be Vernon Davis. When they get Crabtree back, they will be a different offense.
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
But I also think this offense is really struggling.
The lowest wildcard team in the NFC is currently 7-4, the lowest wildcard seed in the AFC is 5-6. Is it safe to say that the NFC is a more dominant conference?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
The best wild card team in the NFC is probably Carolina at 8-3 and then San Francisco and Arizona behind them. It's hard to compare the AFC and NFC, because both have some mediocre divisions and both have some outstanding teams. I think before you declare the NFC better, you have to look at the East and North divisions and the mediocre teams that we are seeing. To me, this is the most clear year that we have had in a long time to identify the playoff contenders so early. I don't think we will have a lot of surprises as we get to January. There aren't that many spots up for grabs.
You think the Steelers' rebound will last? The offensive line, leveon bell, and LB Jason Woirlds looked better the last week and the Browns has a respectable front seven...
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
I totally agree with you. I watched them a little bit today and I am encouraged that they are playing better. They are finally creating some turnovers on defense. But my biggest fear is how they will hold up if they face an alite passing QB. I am not sure that they are a great pass defense team on the back end, unless the up fron pressure can help them.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Hi Gary - I'm not sure if I understood the Jets gameplan yesterday. Wouldn't it have been better to actually call a regular type of game for Geno Smith and if he made mistakes early adapt as needed?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
He looks like he's regressing every week. A lot of the problems are his fault -- he makes bad decisions. It doesn't look like he recognizes defenses. BUT ... you also have to look at the fact that his OL does not protect him very well. He has the worst group of WRs in the NFL who don't separate and drop passes. This is just not a very good football team. But I don't think they have any options. It's not like they have a quality veteran back up. I think they have to live with Smith and hope they get an answer as to whether he's their future or not in the next 5 weeks. If I was there the Jets, I owuld be concerned right now.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Can Indy rebound from it's flat play since their bye? At one point they looked like they would have a s good a chance as any to be the AFC champ?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
They certainly have time, because they're not in a very competitive division. But I am very confused by their recent play. They have been horrible in the first half and at times they are not even close to being competitive. Yet, this is a team that has beaten some of hte best in the NFL. This up and down habit really does not serve them well heading into December. It doesn't make sense, because they have a solid coaching staff and a bunch of good players. So why so inconsistent?
Tim (El Cajon, CA)
Biggest steal of the draft, 3rd round for Keenan Allen. Best off season acquisition Danny Woodhead. OK, maybe not but they are sure in the conversation! They are impressive.
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
Allen has been excellent, because he seems to be on the same page with Rivers and they really seem to trust each other. This is a team that has been looking for a young WR to emerge. Rivers is the kind of QB that will absolutely get you the ball if you're open. Allen seems to realize that.
Bon Jovi would be the perfect owner for the Bills, since that franchise is always living on a prayer
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
I love Bon Jovi, so I think it would be great for him to be a part of the NFL. Although I'm not sure why the Buffalo Bills are the team he'd buy. I will say this, they have a really dedicated fan base. A guy like Bon Jovi might be really excited about a chance to see this once-proud franchise return to prominence. What I like about him is that he is a serious football guy and not just window dressing. So, if he does it, he can probably make a solid impact.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Thanks Gary. Have A Happy Thanksgiving!
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
I think tonight's game is fascinating in terms of evaluating both of the young QBs, who are struggling a little bit this year. So, this is a great stage and a very entertaining game tonight for a blockbuster game next week in New Orleans at Seattle. So, we are lucky at ESPN to have a couple of really good Monday Night games.