BALTIMORE COLTS
(Conference and league champions)

COACH: WEEB EWBANK
1958 RECORD: W 9, L 3, 1ST
1959 EXHIBITIONS: W 4, L 2

PASSING OFFENSE
With the best passer in football in Johnny Unitas and the best receiver in Raymond Berry, the Colts travel by air whenever necessary and expedient. With Lenny Moore, Jim Mutscheller and Jerry Richardson, a rookie, Baltimore can go over any defense that's too tough to go through. The Colt offensive line takes pride in providing Unitas with the three or four seconds he needs to get the ball away. If Johnny's health fails, he has an able substitute in Ray Brown, the defensive halfback.

RUSHING OFFENSE
Alan Ameche is a powerful fullback, big and strong enough to bust up the middle, fast enough to convert a five-yard gain into 50. L. G. Dupre is a good foil for Ameche, and Lenny Moore gives the Colt ground attack breakaway speed. Even so the Colts could never win the league title on their running backs, good as they are. But then who ever could?

PASS DEFENSE
The Colt defenders are a year older and a year better. Tackle Big Daddy Lipscomb has learned to slip away from a blocker now and then to put pressure from the middle of the line. That kind of pressure leads to pass interceptions.

RUSHING DEFENSE
Big Don Joyce and Gino Marchetti at end, Lipscomb and ageless Art Donovan at tackle give the Colts something over half a ton of beef to smother a running offense. None has slowed enough to worry about, and the linebackers have been helped by the return of Dick Szymanski and the acquisition of Marv Matuszak.

OVER-ALL
Great passing, adequate running and a tough defense against passing or running make the Colts favorites to retain their title. This year the Colts have stiffer competition from the second-division teams and, too, stiffer competition from Los Angeles and the Chicago Bears. The big weakness last year was punting; now Dave Sherer, a rookie from Southern Methodist, booms the punts out nearly 50 yards. The bench is stronger, too, on both offense and defense. But so is the Colt competition in the Western Conference.

CHICAGO BEARS

COACH: GEORGE HALAS
1958 RECORD: W 8, L 4, TIED FOR 2ND
1959 EXHIBITIONS: W 6, L 1

PASSING OFFENSE
George Halas, coach of the Chicago Bears, got $50,000 for Bobby Layne from the New York Bulldogs; since then he has lost no telling how many championships for lack of a great quarterback. This year should be no exception. Quarterbacks Ed Brown, Zeke Bratkowski and Rudy Bukich have looked fine yet have never stood up for an entire season. The receivers are there in Harlon Hill, healthy again, Jim Dooley, another cripple fit for war, and a good rookie, Willard Dewveall.

RUSHING OFFENSE
Rick Casares, the burly Bear fullback, looks faster this year than he has in the last two. Halfback Willie Galimore is a beautiful runner to watch—elusive, fast and graceful. The Bear running, if it is given operating room by the Bear passing, is as good as any in the league.

PASS DEFENSE
The Bear defense is plotted by Clark Shaughnessy, one of the most ingenious coaches in football. His ideas are implemented by a talented and experienced crew in the defensive line and backfield. The Bear defense last year was stingier than the Colts', one of the league's best alltime defensive units. All-Pro Bill George leads the linebackers; the secondary includes J. C. Caroline, a ball hawk.

RUSHING DEFENSE
The improved Bear offense should be a big help to the hard-worked defenders. If your offensive team can't control the ball, the defensive unit spends quite a bit of time working. This was one of the league's two best units. They could be the best now.

OVER-ALL
The only real worry for George Halas is at quarterback. Between them, Brown, Bratkowski and/or Bukich may solve that problem. If they do, the Bears will be loaded with running and passing and great on defense. They finished in a tie for second last year, they'll finish a notch higher this year if the quarterback problem is solved. They may, like the Browns, take all the marbles, even with fair quarterbacking, but Halas will, as usual, continue to miss Bobby Layne. All in all, this is a better Bear, maybe good enough.

DETROIT LIONS

COACH: GEORGE WILSON
1958 RECORD: W 4, L 7, T 1, 5TH
1959 EXHIBITIONS: W 4, L 2, T 1

PASSING OFFENSE
The Lions ruined their hopes for repeating their 1957 championship very early in 1958. They played the Chicago Bears in Dallas and lost 14 players. With no Bear game during the 1959 preseason skirmishes, the Lions look much better. Tobin Rote is as good a passer as there is in the league, more effective because he is the best running quarterback. Receivers Jim Doran, Jim Gibbons, Steve Junker, Dave Middleton and Hopalong Cassady are all good. The rebuilt Detroit offensive line gives Rote time to breathe now.

RUSHING OFFENSE
Keys to the Detroit rushing are the new line and a new fullback—Notre Dame's Nick Pietrosante, who looks like a pro natural. The new line opens holes for the Lion backs. That could be the whole difference between a deep second division and a high first-division finish.

PASS DEFENSE
Jack Christiansen is now coaching the 49er deep defenders. But the veteran pass defense corps, headed by Jim David, is still on hand. Linebackers, headed by Joe Schmidt, are tough, too; the Lion line is capable of putting pressure on any passer.

RUSHING DEFENSE
Joe Schmidt is a blocky, fair young man built on the lines of a grizzly bear, and one of the best linebackers in pro football. The Detroit defenders in the deep secondary are enthusiastic tacklers. The Detroit line is, like most pro lines, big and nearly immovable. Much of Detroit's sad sag was due to line play, but it was offensive line play. The defense is still solid.

OVER-ALL
Without the truly crippling injuries which hamstrung this team last season, the Lions might have been among the top three in the West. They're healthy now, and an offensive line which suffered from old age and malnutrition in 1958 is younger and healthier. If the youngsters continue providing holes for the running backs and protection for Tobin Rote, the Lions are on the way—not all the way, but far enough to save a good coach's job. Given time, Wilson will have the Lions back on top very soon.

GREEN BAY PACKERS

COACH: VINCE LOMBARDI
1958 RECORD: W 1, L 10, T 1, 6TH
1959 EXHIBITIONS: W 4, L 2

PASSING OFFENSE
If Vince Lombardi could combine the talents of his three quarterbacks—Bart Starr, Joe Francis and Lamar McHan—into one man, he would have a quarterback as good as Johnny Unitas. Starr has trouble with the long pass, Francis is a good runner but still unused to the T quarterback role and McHan lacks leadership. Lombardi, an old hand at juggling quarterbacks, will probably squeeze the most from these three. They have good receivers to throw to; better protection from a revamped offensive line will help.

RUSHING OFFENSE
Paul Hornung, after a couple of so-so seasons, looks ready now to play up to his potential. Lew Carpenter, acquired from the Browns, adds punch to a backfield which should be more effective behind better blocking. The Green Bay quarterbacks can run, too, particularly Francis.

PASS DEFENSE
Old head Emlen Tunnell lends a touch of wisdom and a steadying influence to a Packer secondary which has been very effective in exhibition games. Lombardi's late trades may have remedied a major weakness—lack of an effective rush from the defensive line, a must in this game.

RUSHING DEFENSE
Tackles Ken Beck, from the Cardinals, and Henry Jordan, an ex-Brown, combine with J. D. Kimmel to beef up the Packer running defense. The Packer linebackers, led by Tom Bettis, are veterans. Bill Quinlan, a defensive end obtained from Cleveland, is a key in the rebuilt and much stronger Packer defensive line.

OVER-ALL
When Vince Lombardi accepted a five-year contract to rebuild the sadly depleted Green Bay fortunes, he made it clearly understood that he would run the show. This very quickly disposed of the major reason for the Packer decline—too many cooks. Lombardi, an intelligent, sound coach and an able administrator, has a big rebuilding task, but he has done a remarkable job to date. This is a smarter, quicker and much better Packer team—probably the most improved team in the NFL. They are tough for any club.

LOS ANGELES RAMS

COACH: SID GILLMAN
1958 RECORD: W 8, L 4, TIED FOR 2ND
1959 EXHIBITIONS: W 3, L 2, T 1

PASSING OFFENSE
Bill Wade has had a tremendous exhibition season. Wade was a bit immature for pro football for a while, and none of the old, bold Rams considered him on a par with their nonpareils—Bob Water-field and Norm Van Brocklin. He now has three of the finest receivers in football to throw to in Del Shofner, Jim Phillips and Jon Arnett; and Ollie Matson, who cost the Rams nine players, is an adequate receiver. If Wade's early foot is indicative of his 1959 performance, the Rams could mount a passing attack second to none.

RUSHING OFFENSE
Matson is one of the finest runners who ever pulled on a pair of cleats. He's 29 now, and the years may have stolen a step or two from him. Arnett is one of the most exciting runners of our time, and in Tom Wilson the Rams have a runner who has been the most grievously overlooked man in the business for a couple of years.

PASS DEFENSE
For the last few years Gillman has traded off the secondary defenders most likely to succeed in view of their experience. This year he retains the entire defensive secondary. The Ram pass defense should improve. The linebackers leave a little to be desired—but not too much.

RUSHING DEFENSE
Most players and coaches in the Western Conference agree that Linebacker Les Richter is overrated. He's helped out by All-Pro End Gene Brito and now the Ram line looks a little better. You can't afford to give away first downs on third and three—even with the Ram offense.

OVER-ALL
With Wade throwing very well and with some of the best running backs in football, the Rams figure to be an impressive offensive machine. But you have to take the ball away from the opposition before you can utilize an offense. The Rams, long lacking an adequate defense, may be better able to cut off the long pass this year, but it's the short pass which piles up the first downs and retains the ball. The Rams can run and throw, but the short pass defense must measure up before they can go all the way.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

COACH: HOWARD HICKEY
1958 RECORD: W 6, L 6, 4TH
1959 EXHIBITIONS: W 2, L 4

PASSING OFFENSE
When Red Hickey played end for the Los Angeles Rams, he never heard a footstep. He cared little what happened after he caught the ball. He has instilled the same disregard for danger in the 49er receivers. R. C. Owens, Clyde Connor and Billy Wilson are all first-rate receivers, and old, bald Y. A. Tittle ranks with the best throwers in the league. He's backed up by John Brodie, and either of them can pass you out of the park if they have time to throw. In other words, pass protection, for the 49ers, is of the essence.

RUSHING OFFENSE
Age goes well before beauty in the backfield. Joe Perry is an elderly fullback. Hugh McElhenny has been around a long time. Old as they are they provide the 49ers with a fine one-two combination.

PASS DEFENSE
Hickey, desperate for someone who can knock down a pass, has two rookies in his secondary and one at linebacker. There's a saying in the league that a rookie defensive halfback costs a touchdown a game. But these rookies—Backs Eddie Dove and Dave Baker and Linebacker Bob Harrison—are exceptional.

RUSHING DEFENSE
Every time the opposing quarterback came out of the huddle last year, he could count on gaining about five and a half yards against the 49ers. Hickey has toughened up his defense because he's a hard-nosed, tough coach. The personnel is better because the linebackers are better, but there were too many holes for Red to fill. He did well but not well enough.

OVER-ALL
The 49ers can, and very probably will, score prolifically on every team they play. They'll do most of it by air, with Tittle and Brodie throwing to some of the best catchers in the league. The leakiest defense in the league still leaks—not as much as it did, but too much. The secondary defense against passing looked very bad when the 49ers had only one interception in the exhibition games. Hickey is a fine coach, and if he survives this season, the 49ers could be tough in future years with a little help—but not this one.

PHOTOWEEB EWBANK PHOTORAY BROWN PHOTOART DONOVAN PHOTOMARV MATUSZAK PHOTODAVE SHERER PHOTOGEORGE HALAS PHOTORICK CASARES PHOTOWILL DEWVEALL PHOTOJ. C. CAROLINE PHOTOBILL GEORGE PHOTOGEORGE WILSON PHOTOTOBIN ROTE PHOTONICK PIETROSANTE PHOTOJOE SCHMIDT PHOTOJIM DAVID PHOTOVINCE LOMBARDI PHOTOPAUL HORNUNG PHOTOJ. D. KIMMEL PHOTOJOE FRANCIS PHOTOEMLEN TUNNELL PHOTOSID GILLMAN PHOTOOLLIE MATSON PHOTODEL SHOFNER PHOTOGENE BRITO PHOTOBILL WADE PHOTOHOWARD HICKEY PHOTOBOB HARRISON PHOTOEDDIE DOVE PHOTOHUGH McELHENNY PHOTOJOHN BRODIE
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)