Chat with Scouts Inc.'s 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've got Gary!
Gary Horton (4:03 PM)
I think the playoffs are really exciting right now, because we already know who the elite teams are, so now our concentration can go to the wild cards as the other teams try to get in in the next few weeks. It makes it really exciting. One observation that I had is that while no one wants to win the NFC East, I think whoever comes out of there will be battle tested and could be a bigger factor in the playoffs than we thought against New Orleans and Minnesota. Also, we've always thought the power in the past was in the AFC, but to me, I think this year it's in the NFC. I think we're headed for an amazing playoffs. Could you imagine New Orleans-Indy? Or Minnesota-Indy with Peyton and Favre? There are so many interesting scenarios.
the pack's defense was good enough to carry it while rodgers had an off-game. is it good enough to do so against a play-off team?
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
I don't think the Packers can win in the playoffs on a bad Rodgers day. They also ran the ball well against Chicago. But I think Rodgers will always be capable of making plays in the short passing game, as with the slant routes. So I don't see him having an off game in the playoffs. I think Green Bay is a team no one will want to play in January. Beating the Bears in Chicago is one of those you just want to get out of the way. Those don't always result in blowouts. A win is a win at this point in the season.
With the Cowboys continuing their faceplant in December, do you think they will rally and beat my Saints in the Superdome? Do you see them losing in the playoffs to a sleeper team like the Packers or the Cards (Because their last two games have been anything but impressive)?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
I do not. I think the Saints realize what's at stake, not only to stay undefeated, but to also beat a marquee team. I think they'll absolutely be ready and play this game like it's a playoff. I'm not as down on Dallas as a lot of people. In my mind, they've lost the last two weeks, even though it's December, to two good football teams. It's not like these guys have fallen off the face of the earth. They just don't seem to make the big plays when they have to have them. I don't see any way they can stop the New Orleans offense. I would not be surprised if the Saints blew this thing out a little bit.
How about those browns beating those steelers? GO BROWNS!!!
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
I haven't decided if it's really inspired Browns or really uninspired Steelers. Probably a combo of both. I have to say this, I was shocked that Eric Mangini got these guys to play that hard. That goes to their pride. I also think that Pittsburgh just mailed it in and assumed that they were the superior team. That's why you can't take the pride factor out of the NFL. It was the most un-Steeler like game I've seen in years.
Who do you think will win tonight?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
I think Arizona will win, but I don't do that with a ton of confidence. They're the superior team. They're coming off of a great win against Minnesota on both sides of the ball. They're playing with a lot of confidence. But it seems this is the kind of game Arizona tends to lose. For some reason they're not always ready to play. For the 49ers, this is a big stage and a chance to make a statement. That new spread offense could give them some problems. This is a game that Arizona should take over early and establish their superiority, but I'm not sure that will happen. It will be an embarrassment if they don't win.
John Bigham (Idaho)
Drew Brees for MVP is it even close?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
Oh, I think it's a very close race. I think you have to consider Brett Favre, obviously. Peyton Manning will always be in the conversation, although he hasn't put up good numbers the last few weeks. A guy who should be in the conversation, but isn't getting talked about much is Phillip Rivers. That team has the best vertical offense in the NFL. But I think Brees is probably at the top of the list right now.
do you see the ravens winnig out and making the playoffs?
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
Based on how the Steelers are playing right now, they'll probably be favored in the three final games. I don't think this is an elite team, but they're physical enough that they can get on a run. If they can get past the Steelers I think they can win all three.
We know the Colts are going to rest their players in coming weeks. Do they not realize this could be the reason for the constant one and done in the playoffs with the rust?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
I think that's a huge topic as we near the end of the season. It's a strategy that has not worked for them in the past. They play on Thursday night this week, which means they have 10 days off until the next game. If they start resting their guys in Week 16, 17, then you add a bye to that then they could go almost a month before a big game for their key players. I just don't think they can turn the switch on and off this time of year. Teams can come out and look rusty in the first half of a playoff game and not be able to make it up in the second half and end up losing. If you have a significant lead, yeah you can rest some guys to get them healthy, but in terms of injuries, you can get hurt in practice. If I'm the Colts, I play my guys a little bit, knowing they'll have the first round bye. But having Manning play only a half in Week 16 and 17 seems risky to me. For that reason, I think you'll see the Saints play it all the way out, because they want to make sure the chemistry and timing of the offense is as good in January as it is now.
darrell (nova scotia)
What are your thoughts on the Patriots defence and is Moss making the signs that he wants out.
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I think the Patriots are not very good on defense, but they've been able to hide it the last few years. Right now, they don't have a legit pass rush and that exposes a back seven that just aren't good cover guys. They're a bad matchup pass defense.
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
In terms of Moss, I think he's a sensitive guy who's been a good citizen in New England and all of a sudden he was called out last week almost in a grade school fashion. I think that was embarrassing to him and I don't think it was handled in the proper way. I think he's probably really frustrated right now because he thinks he's done everything the right way in New England. I know it looks like he took some plays off on Sunday and he didn't finish some routes. But the film I've looked at the last three to four weeks, defenses have decided they're going to take Moss out of the game with double coverages and they will give up Wes Welker and the underneath routes with an attitude that you have to put together 10-12 play drives to score and you can't do that all day. Moss probably suffers from that gameplan that has to react to those coverages. So, he might go into a week knowing that he's not a huge part of the offense because defenses are going to take him away. This is a potential problem for the Pats. In years past, everything has stayed in house without a hint of dissension.
Okay, I was wrong about the Vikings going into a slide...Do you see any of the "non-elite" teams making the Super Bowl, as Arizona did last year?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
As I said earlier, I think there will be one, maybe two teams, in the NFC East that comes out that will not be an easy out in the playoffs. They'll be battle tested coming out of that division. I think Green Bay is a scary team that you don't want to play in January. The thing for Vikings is that until they hopefully go to New Orleans is that they'll play at home. They're a veteran group with tremendous experience and balance. You've got some older players who will be well rested with a first round bye. I don't see what's going to prevent a Minnesota-NO NFC championship.
Do you think Donavan Mcnabb is having one of his best seasons? will the Eagles defense be the thing that keeps them from the Super Bowl?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
I think that's a very fair statement. I don't think McNabb has ever had the explosive weapons he has now. Every where you look he has verticl threats and explosive players. I do worry about their defense. I don't think they did a great job of tackling and they just gave up too many big plays. What's ironic is that if this is the defense we were used to seeing under the late Jim Johnson, this might be the best team in the NFC right now. But I do think they can get into some shootouts. I think new DC Sean McDermott will have them ready to play in the playoffs.
Who do you think is the more explosive player, DeSean Jackson or Chris Johnson?
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
It's two different positions. They're both amazing in their own way. I love them both, but I see DeSean Jackson making some moves that defy description. His return for a TD against the Giants where he set up the return team and then hit the sidelines looked like a man among boys. His speed is so explosive, I don't know how you matchup against him. These guys are fun to watch.
How d you explain my Skins struggles this year?
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
Well, I'm actually working right now on the Monday night matchup for next week and the deeper you go into this team, the tougher they are to figure out, because they have some talent. I really like them on defense. They have an excellent pass rush. They have good matchup DBs in the passing game. But they've been ravaged by injuries and that's really held them back. They are playing hard right now and I don't think that anybody playing them even this late in the season can get a free pass. Jim Zorn may not be around next year, but they're playing with pride. When you lose guys like Portis, Cooley and your OL is beat up and you're still competitive, that says something about the makeup of these guys. In fact, I'm already out on a limb picking the Redskins to upset the Giants next Monday night. I might be crazy, but I like their style. They had 8 sacks yesterday against Oakland and that tells me these guys are still playing hard and having fun.
jags chances vs colts thursday?
Gary Horton (4:33 PM)
Well, I think they're better than you think based on a short work week. As good as the Colts are, I don't like what I see on film the last few weeks. They don't have a legit run game. Manning's not playing to his normal level. They've already clinched everything. I think they'll go into the game with the mindset that we're playing this as a full game before they start resting the final two games. But mentally, having clinched everything, they may not be as ready to play against a desperate opponent as they usually would. This is a huge game for Jacksonville and I could just see Indy being lackluster. Although, I could also contradict myself and say that the Colts will have a huge game, knowing that they are going to start shutting it down the last two weeks of the season and try to make a statement against Jacksonville.
Gary Horton (4:34 PM)
We've got a great week of games and two exciting games before we get to next Sunday. I think it will be a great last three weeks. I suppose we get excited for the playoffs every year, but for some reason, this looks like a real intriguing group of teams for this playoffs. It's going to be fun.