When I write these columns, my schedule typically goes something like this: Saturday and early Sunday I get the basics down. I try to figure out what angles I'm going to take on the week and write up as much as I can, knowing that I will likely have to tweak a thing or two based on the outcomes of the games. By Monday I should be finishing up the general patter. Come Tuesday the latest DVOA rankings and point spreads are set, so I work out my spread picks. The money line usually isn't solid until Wednesday, so that, along with clean-up and housekeeping (amazon.com links and so forth) get done on Wednesday. With luck, late Wednesday night I submit the column and the editors have it up on Thursday.
This year has been different. I swear there hasn't been a week when I haven't had to do significant rewrites come Monday. It's been that kind of season. Nothing is going as expected from week to week. From a gamblers point of view, Bill Simmons described it well last week:
We're nine weeks into the NFL season and the underdogs are 15 games better than .500. Just in the past four weeks, 27 of 33 underdogs covered AND won outright. It's a financial catastrophe. It's a gambling quagmire. I have friends calling me just to say, "Yo, I closed up shop — going cold turkey until the playoffs." I have readers e-mailing me just to tell me, "I've lost 14 of 16 teasers this season." I have other readers telling me that they did a George Costanza a few weeks ago (went the opposite of what they would have done) and had big weeks ever since...
It's an unpredictable, chaotic, inexplicable season...Belichick and Brady are no longer reliable at home. Neither are the Steelers, Eagles or Broncos. Bad quarterbacks routinely win on the road. Monday night home teams routinely lose. Terrible coaches can cover against good ones.
But even for non-gamblers, this has been the bizzaro season. It has been the year of the upset which means a poor columnist can't safely get a head start and ends up scrambling. In the column below I tried to take a look at the divisional races with an eye to the playoffs. I examined the records of the teams and looked at their schedule going forward and sketched out what I was going to say. Then the Jets beat the Pats, Miami beats KC, the Texans beat the Jags, the Steelers beat the Saints, the Giants fall apart, and I found myself under the gun to rewrite massive swaths of text.