Here's my quiz for this week. I'll give you the names, you tell me the team they all play for--Stephen Trejo, Reggie Swinton, Artose Pinner, James Hall. (Hint: Each of these gentlemen figured prominently in the team's major upset on Sunday.)
Give up? The answer is the Lions, who were 28--13 winners over the Giants at the Meadowlands--road warriors supreme with a 3--0 mark away from home and one of the surprise success stories of 2004, with a 4--2 record.
Trejo, a fourth-year player who was cut in the preseason and then re-signed late in September, started at fullback on Sunday because Cory Schlesinger was nursing a pulled hamstring. He blocked, he picked up blitzers and he caught a key 18-yard pass on the touchdown drive that made it 21--13.
Swinton, another reclamation project after he was cut during the summer, had lost his job as a return man with the emergence of Eddie Drummond and was trying to hang on as a fourth wideout. But when injured Az Hakim went on the inactive list on Sunday, Swinton stepped into the No. 3 spot, caught a 20yarder to keep a scoring drive alive and then caught the touchdown pass that extended Detroit's lead to eight points.
Pinner, a fourth-round draft choice in 2003, is the third running back in the rotation, but he was the guy who had to run out the clock against the Giants. He carried nine times for 36 yards, adding the final touchdown for good measure.
Then there is Hall, an undrafted free agent four years ago who is probably the least known of the league's sack leaders, with 5 1/2 in six games. But he killed New York from his defensive right end spot, getting a sack, forcing a fumble and generally making life miserable for Kurt Warner. Hall played like a man possessed, but it's not hard to figure out why. During Hall's rookie season, Giants tackle Luke Petitgout put him out of commission for a couple of games with a cut block. Sunday was get-even time.
New York led 10--7 at halftime, but the banged-up Lions took the punches and came back. They were the stronger team in the second half. Quarterback Joey Harrington was precise and played an error-free game. This is a team that has been outmanned almost every game this year, and it showed against Green Bay and Philadelphia. But Detroit has won the close ones.
Now the Lions travel to Dallas. I've taken the pipe on the Cowboys for two straight weeks, including a blowout loss to the Packers on Sunday. Obviously there's something I'm not getting about this team. I don't know how the Dallas players feel, but I'm really psyched for this one. And if they embarrass me one more time, I'll never pick them again, I swear. How's that for an ultimatum? Here's a weak vote for the Cowboys.
There's nothing as tiring as being illogical. And trying to recoup my losses from a second straight ugly week, I've got a roster of favorites I'm ready to send in, but first here's an upset pick based strictly on a hunch. The Giants, whipped into a frenzy by their coach, the media and their wives after the Detroit embarrassment, will topple the high-flying Vikings. And I'm using this same formula to pick against teams that really showed well last weekend.
Thus, Buffalo nails Arizona, Houston squeaks one out over Jacksonville, the Jets beat Miami in the Monday-nighter and Indianapolis wins at Kansas City. In what amount to form picks, I like Green Bayand its new play-calling genius, Mike Sherman, over Washington. (But be careful--the Pack is due for a letdown.) I'll stick with New England over Pittsburgh, which lost its fine nosetackle, Casey Hampton; but let's be honest, the Patriots' streak has to end sometime.