Defensive Tackle Tom Sestak is the AFL's best, and the other tackle, Jim Dunaway, is first-rate. Rookies Hatch Rosdahl and Tom Keating will join veterans Roland McDole and Tom Day to complete the up-front defense. Line-backing is fair. The main trouble is at corner back, where at least one rookie will start. The Bills are vulnerable to the bomb. But with Gilchrist operating behind that offensive line, Buffalo can control the ball.
Buffalo's first Eastern Division title is within reach.
By dealing Quarterback Jacky Lee to Denver, the Oiler management left Houston's fortune squarely in the hands of 37-year-old George Blanda, who needs only to twist a knee to turn the Oilers into the flops of the year. If Blanda can survive the vigorous blitzing that is a defense's best weapon against him, the Oilers will be a challenging team. With Blanda out of the lineup, the Oilers would have to rely on rookie Don Trull. Potentially Trull is a very good quarterback, but the Oilers cannot win a championship with a rookie.
The Oilers need a running back who can go wide to keep the defenses from jamming inside. Billy Cannon, who may either be moved to fullback or traded (most likely destination: New York), is not that man. Rookie Ode Burrell was a possibility but may be out for the season with a leg injury. Another rookie, Sid Blanks, looks promising.
Houston's pass-blocking broke down last season but should improve. The receiving is excellent, with Charley Hennigan, Willard Dewveall and Bobby Jancik, who was moved from defense, as the catchers.
Defensively the Oilers may suffer from a leg injury to Back Tony Banfield. Defensive Tackle Bud McFadin, who came from Denver in the Lee deal, has been outstanding but is too old now to play full time. But All-League Defensive End Don Floyd is back in good health after missing five games last season with a broken jaw, and prize rookie Scott Appleton ought to help.
Coach Sam Baugh must find some outside running and devise a way to get his rather slow guards out to the corners on sweeps. And he must keep Blanda on his feet or the Oilers will fall flat.
By one trade the Oilers went from probables to just barely possible.
NEW YORK JETS