What to watch for in Week 17

After looking at game film, Gary Horton tells you what to pay attention to during Week 17's games.

Originally Published: December 24, 2008
By Gary Horton | Scouts Inc.

After breaking down film and critiquing the teams heading into Week 17, Scouts Inc. tells you what to watch for this week.

Play to Pennington's strengths
The Dolphins' simple, but effective, passing game will be effective versus the Jets. Miami's coaches have devised a safe game plan that allows QB Chad Pennington to use three- and five-step drops and make easy throws. He is a master at finding good matchups and loves to throw bubble screens or circle routes -- especially when a running back is covered by a linebacker. That is a matchup he will try to exploit every time.

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This quick, short passing game will make it tough for the Jets to get to Pennington and will act as the Dolphins' running game. If the Jets use press schemes and try to take away the short passing game, Pennington will pump fake and then go deep to one of his receivers -- especially Ted Ginn Jr.

Get a grip
QB Ben Roethlisberger fumbled the ball four times (losing two) versus the Titans. He always extends the play to let his receivers get separation, but he struggles to protect the ball. When he's scrambling, he does a poor job of tucking the ball when he sees tacklers closing. Big Ben also tends to hold the ball wide, which makes it easier for defenders to strip the ball.

He shouldn't have trouble this week versus Cleveland because it is unlikely he will be under much pressure, but he needs to work on this before the playoffs.

Gary Horton, a pro scout for Scouts Inc., has been a football talent evaluator for more than 30 years. He spent 10 years in the NFL and 10 years at the college level before launching a private scouting firm, The War Room.

Gary 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.