There were some great things to take away from Week 15's games. The New Orleans offense is almost unstoppable right now, especially when they play inside. I think KC might have discovered a recipe to slow down the Green Bay offense. And I've never seen so many teams that we think are really good play this poorly with the playoffs on the line.
Gary, Here's the $64K question. If you had to bet your mortgage, who would you pick to win the NFC East?
I don't have enough in my life savings to take that big of a gamble. I probably like the Dallas Cowboys, but having said that, I think Philadelphia is the most dangerous team, though they're on the outside looking in. The Giants are just puzzling to me, in terms of their up and down effort week to week. In the beginning of the season, I thought this was the strongest division in the NFL. Now, it looks every mediocre, with nobody taking over.
How'd you get the nickname Caveman on NFL32?
Well, what I do is watch film all day in a room off the set. We call it the cave. So when they started asking me to do telestrations on NFL 32, they wanted a name, so they said hey, the caveman is coming out of the cave. I wish I had a better story.
Did people overrate the Denver defense or underrate the Pats' offense?
I thought Denver's defense played pretty well. But you can't turn the ball over against Tom Brady and expect to win. I thought the key to the game was Brady finding good man to man matchups and absolutely exploiting them. There is nobody that is better at pre-snap reads and knowing where he wants to go with the football. The great thing about Brady is he doesn't care who he throws to. He'll lock on to anybody. That means anyone can step up to make plays.
Gary, do you think the Jets make the playoffs and shake off that terrible performance against Philly?
I haven't looked at all of the scenarios yet, but I think they still have a good chance to get into the playoffs if they sweep their final two games, against the Giants and Miami. But it may come down to how hard Miami plays in Week 17 with nothing really to play for. We know that the Dolphins can be a tough opponent, especially in recent weeks, if that is their mindset. I just get so tired of the Jets disappointing us every week. They tease us with good play and then they play a sloppy game that makes you scratch your head. And it seems like they're already smack talking today about their game Sunday with the Giants.
1. GB 2. NO 3. NE Top 3 teams in the NFL and I don't think anyone else is close? thoughts....
I would probably tend to agree with you. But the winner of tonight's game, San Francisco and Pittsburgh, could slip into a comfortable fourth spot. The problem we have is on a week to week basis, we become very comfortable with a team being elite and then they totally disappoint us. I thought Baltimore should be in that category, but not after yesterday. A couple of teams that are very dangerous right now but started too late are Philadelphia and San Diego. Usually, what confuses me, usually this time of year, a couple of teams get on a roll and close fast. They're really hot making it into the playoffs. I don't see it a lot yet. In fact, I'm seeing the opposite.
How easy/hard is it for a QB to learn an offense? The Texans do not look like a superbowl contender with Yates.....FAVRE????
A week ago, they looked fine with Yates. He just didn't play real well yesterday. To be honest, a lot of their other injury problems caught up to them. They do have a very QB friendly offense with basic principles that are fairly easy to learn. But I think the coaches are doing the right job with Yates right now and going with him as the guy. I think he does have good physical skills and he does really know the system. I would not plug a guy in even if he could learn it quickly at this stage. I think Yates will be fine, they just need to get healthy.
Can we get off of Romo's back for December woes? He has 8TDs/0INTs this December and in his last 7 December games 15 TDs to one INT!
I thought he looked terrific on Saturday night. I really liked his movement outside of the pocket. He avoided the rush like few QBs can. I really like his accuracy when he's throwing on the run. I thought Dallas played with better pace and sense of urgency and an uptempo attitude than I've seen in weeks. That bodes well going into the playoffs. I think Tony Romo is fine.
Did the Ravens' performance last night versus the Chargers come as a shock to you?
Maybe not that they lost, because I really like the way the Chargers are playing the last couple of weeks, but the fact that it's not even close. Baltimore virtually had no pressure, while San Diego's defense was in Flacco's face all night. The pass defense for Baltimore wasn't there. I know this is a well coached team and they are usually well disciplined, but I don't know how a team with so many veteran leaders can play so flat in front of a national audience. This happens more with Baltimore than it should. And yet, I still think they're capable of running the table, if they improve their consistency.
The bills seemed so good early in the season and now they are terrible. What happened and what hope do they have for next season
I agree with you that they've totally fallen apart. I think it has to do with the loss of Fred Jackson. The play of Ryan Fitzpatrick has been really inconsistent. Their defense in recent weeks has been horrible with their pass rush and they can't stop anybody. They don't look like the same team from early in the season and they really don't have an identity. Now the problem is maybe they have to look in the mirror and say, is Fitzpatrick the guy who can lead them? They may be stuck because they gave him a long term contract and a lot of money. I'm not sure he's the guy they can build around. I thought they were absolutely on the right path early in the season, but now there's more work to do than I thought.
What happened to that Jets defense? What a disaster.
I think they can be exposed inside at the safety position. Their pass rush is inconsistent. I just don't see them create enough big plays. They seem to be out of sync at times.
Mr. Horton, is Calvin Johnson making Stafford look good or is Stafford an actual top 10 QB?
Oh, I think the latter is probably true. He's lucky to have Calvin Johnson, but he's put up great numbers without the advantage of a running game, without the advantage of a No. 2 or nickel package and without a difference maker at TE. What I find very interesting is that he has great numbers and he kind of flies below the radar. Until I looked at his stats today, I didn't realize how good he's playing.
If you could point your finger to one thing wrong with the Packers defense, what is it? Pass Rush, Pass coverage....?
They're very confusing because they create a lot of turnovers. They jump a lot of routes and they're very opportunistic. Yet they give up chunks of yardage between the 20s. I don't think they have the same pass rush as they did a year ago and I do think QBs have enough time to expose them in coverage. I watch them very closely on a week to week basis and I really like some of the big plays that they make. My fear is that they will have a day in January where they don't make those game changing plays and if their offense can't bail them out they'll be in trouble.
Will it be a shocker if the niners defeat the steelers?
No, I think this game is very competitive. Either team can win. The 49ers know exactly what they're going to face, because they lost to the Cardinals last week and that is exactly the defense they will see tonight. I think this will be a very competitve game that could easily go either way. I think it's very important for the 49ers, because I think they're still trying to establish that they're an elite team. This is a huge showcase to let everybody see them.
Rex Ryan is starting his hype machine about the Jets being better than the Giants. What are your thoughts on Saturday's game?
Well, I thought they both played lousy in Week 15 and I don't think either one of them has anything to say. I'm really concerned about the Giants pass defense, if they don't have a good front four pass rush. But having said that, I'm also very concerned about the Jets' pass protection. I think the Jets may have a little more star power and big play guys and I probably like them slightly in this game, but in all honesty, either one of these teams, if they get into the playoffs, they're backing in. Though, that doesn't mean that they can't go on a run in January.
Joe Flacco is on and off as a QB, is he going to get a contract of an elite NFL QB?
I think that's a great question and one that I don't know. You really want to like Flacco and you want to say that yes he will continue to improve. But there is a part of me that says he's been in the league long enough that it's getting too late to talk about upside and improvement. I just see too many inconsistencies in his game. I really like his supporting cast. I think he has a lot of weapons. But he just doesn't seem like a guy that can carry an offense on a weekly basis. Yet, there are a lot of teams that would love to have him as their QB. Maybe we should wait and see how this year pans out.
I think we wind up with two really good Monday Night Football games on ESPN, with Pittsburgh at San Fran tonight and Atlanta at New Orleans next week. That's a fun way to finish our NFL coverages. The next two weekends should be a lot of fun with everything on the line.