While the heat of a hot summer has had a stranglehold on the Midcoast of late, heat cannot stop the calendar from flipping from August to September, which, in turn, signifies the start of the National Football League season.

And with the NFL about to begin meaningful games again, so to will Courier Publications/VillageSoup as it prepares for its 20th annual Pigskin Pundits weekly NFL game selections.

For decades, the picks were featured in the print editions of some of Courier Publications’ newspapers, such as The Courier-Gazette, The Camden Herald and The Republican Journal. Now, those picks are made exclusively on the organization’s websites — knox.villagesoup.com and waldo.villagesoup.com.

Each year, Sports Director Ken Waltz, Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell, owner Reade Brower and a weekly guest have gone head-to-head against one another by picking that week’s slate of pro football games.

This year, sports reporter Zack Miller will join the group to try to earn bragging rights supremacy.

The “winners” are not picked by a points spread, but merely final score.

After 16 weeks, the guest with the best weekly record will return to pick against Waltz, Haskell, Miller and Brower for the playoffs and Super Bowl. The guest with the best weekly record also will receive a year's subscription to any of Courier Publications' newspapers or either of the organization's websites.

Last season, Brower was the “top dog” as he finished with a 178-78 record (.695 winning percentage), while the weekly guests finished second at 169-87 (.660), Haskell third at 156-100 (.609) and Waltz fourth at 153-103 (.598).

As a guest picker last season in Week 8, Miller finished a perfect 13-0 and earned the right to pick against Waltz, Haskell and Brower in the playoffs, along with Sandy Cameron of Belfast and Mark Cooper of Fairfield, who finished with 13-3 records in Week 13 and Week 16, respectively.

As an employee in another Brower company, Miller was ineligible to collect the free year’s subscription, but picked playoff games along with Cameron and Cooper, who had the second-best guest marks.

Haskell, Miller and Cooper correctly picked the Philadelphia Eagles to defeat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

The NFL season begins on Thursday, Sept. 4 as the Super Bowl champion Eagles host the Atlanta Falcons.

Those interested in being a weekly guest picker should email Haskell at mhaskell@courierpublicationsllc.com.

Courier Publications' sports staff can be reached by email at sports@villagesoup.com or by phone at 594-4401.