Here is the offensive key to the Giant success this season. With Y.A. Tittle well protected, receivers Del Shofner, Frank Gifford and Joe Walton have had plenty of time to work themselves free in Allie Sherman's ingenious pass patterns. The pass attack has grown better week by week as Gifford (see cover) has grown more accustomed to the subtleties of playing flanker back; now he is almost as good as Kyle Rote was at making his moves, and Gifford is a stronger runner. If the Packer or Lion defenders concentrate on Shofner too much, Gifford may be the day's star. Shofner probably would do much better against Detroit than against the Packers.
This has not been the strongest segment of the defense for the Giants. During the season opposing teams have gained nearly twice as many yards against them through the air as on the ground. Both the Packers and the Lions are well equipped to take advantage of any lapses by the Giant antiaircraft group. The Packers, with a superb quarterback in Starr and very big receivers, seem better equipped, since the Giant secondary backs are not big men themselves and may have difficulty coping with the tall Green Bay ends. Should the Giant defenders overload against the Green Bay running, they may suffer to an even greater extent from Starr's passing.
Although the Giants have, upon occasion, pounded methodically at an opposing defense with a tough ground game to protect a lead, this is not the general style of their attack. Their big ballcarriers—Phil King, Alex Webster—have strength but seldom seem to break away for those game-turning long runs. These two runners will undoubtedly move for short yardage against the Green Bay defense, which will certainly be pass conscious, but unless Sherman and his schemers come up with a play like the end around which Gifford ran recently to surprise the Dallas Cowboys, the Giant ground game will only supplement and set up the air attack.
Here, the Giant strength runs headlong into the power of the Packers. If the Giant defenders could set up to contain the Packer running offense, they might do well enough, but the Packers can move as well in the air as on the ground and their habit of throwing from what looks like a running play complicates matters even more. The Lions, on the other hand, are not nearly as explosive on the ground. Nick Pietrosante, Ken Webb, Dan Lewis and Tom Watkins are good runners, but not of the caliber of Taylor and Hornung. The Giants may contain the four Lions; they may too, contain Taylor and Hornung, but at serious cost in pass defense.
Whether the Giants play the Packers or the Lions, they do not seem strong enough to win the championship. Although this is a more versatile and more explosive Giant team than last year's, it still cannot match Green Bay's consistent ground attack, and the Giant defense, overall, is not quite as good as the Lions'. The Giants have a better passing attack than either Detroit or Green Bay, but this is negated, in large measure, by the fine pass defenses that they must face, either of which is better than their own.
The Giant defense against the run is slightly better than Green Bay's, not quite as good as Detroit's. The quality of New York's running game is far below that of Green Bay's, probably about the same or not quite as good as that of the Lions.
Allie Sherman's team does carry the small advantage of playing at home, but it is too slight to make up the difference in this case. The Giants undoubtedly will score against either of these teams; if they follow their bent, they'll score spectacularly once or twice.
But the Packers will score more, either on the ground or in the air. And the Detroit defense will blanket most of the Giant passing offense with ferocious, gambling rushes and the same tremendous line will stop the running attack.