The planets aligned and sun shone brightly on the "Pigskin Pundits" and their guest in Week 13 of the National Football League game selections as each had strong prediction performances.

In fact, all had five of fewer losses for the week, usually a solid sign of moderate gridiron success.

Things continued tight for the four media prognosticators as, after 192 turf battles this pandemic-weary season, three games separate the quartet. The guests are five games off the pace.

Now, it is Week 14 of the NFL regular season and the outcomes of the previous week's prognostications tightened the season's race to first place between the "Pigskin Pundits" and guests.

This year, the "Pigskin Pundits" and their weekly guest are back for predictions in the 22nd annual version of their guessing games.

As usual, the Courier Publications/VillageSoup "Pigskin Pundits" include Reade Brower, owner; Waltz, sports director; Mark Haskell, associate sports director; and Miller, sports reporter.

After 17 weeks of the regular season — if the NFL can successfully navigate the seemingly never-ending waters churned by COVID-19 — someone will secure bragging rights?

The way it works is each week through the Super Bowl, a guest, along with the VillageSoup group, make predictions on the outcome of games. The outcomes are based on wins and loses, not a points spread.

In Week 13, Haskell and Waltz finished 11-4 and Reade Brower and Miller 10-5. Guest Lucas Brower of Rockland finished 11-4.

The Week 14 guest is Garrett French of Warren.

After 13 weeks, Reade Brower has compiled a record of 122-69-1 (.639 winning percentage), while Waltz is 121-70-1 (.634), Miller 120-71-1 (.628) and Haskell 119-72-1 (623). The guests are 117-741 (.613).

For the guests, in Week 1, Dave MacNeill of Warren finished 8-8; Week 2, Howard Fogg Jr. of Monmouth 13-3; Week 3, Rusty Worcester of Cushing 7-8-1; Week 4, Emily Cole of Waldoboro, 6-9; Week 5, Ryan Jackson of Warren, 10-4; Week 6, Richie Oliver of Jefferson, 9-5; Week 7, Casey Holmes of Dixmont, 9-5; Week 8, Matt Petrie of Wiscasset, 8-6; Week 9, Erik Benner of Friendship, 10-4; Week 10, Sandy Cameron of Belfast, 6-8; Week 11, Meagan Miller of Warren, 9-5; Week 12, Austin Haskell of Rockland, 11-5; and Week 13, Lucas Brower of Rockland, 11-4.

For the Courier Publications/VillageSoup crew, Miller and Waltz have the best weekly records at 14-2 in Week 2, while, for the guests, Fogg has the best weekly mark at 13-3 in Week 2.

Waltz has been the regular-season winner the last two years, but others have risen to the top in the postseason.

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

The picks appear each week online.

After 17 weeks of regular-season play, 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 one of Courier Publications' newspapers or one of the organization's websites.

For the past two years, the guest winner has been Brad King of Camden, who has clearly proven the “king” of the guest pickers. Last year, he went 12-3-1 in Week 1 to earn the right to pick against Brower, Waltz, Haskell and Miller in the playoffs, while two years ago, King went 11-4 in Week 12 to earn the honors.

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

The 14th week of the 2020-21 schedule includes:

Thursday, Dec. 10

New England at Los Angeles Rams

Sunday, Dec. 13

Houston at Chicago

Dallas at Cincinnati

Kansas City at Miami

Arizona at N.Y. Giants

Minnesota at Tampa Bay

Denver at Carolina

Tennessee at Jacksonville

Indianapolis at Las Vegas

N.Y. Jets at Seattle

Green Bay at Detroit

New Orleans at Philadelphia

Washington at San Francisco

Atlanta at Los Angeles Chargers

Pittsburgh at Buffalo

Monday, Dec. 14

Baltimore at Cleveland

The following are the Week 14 picks of the Courier Publications/VillageSoup "Pigskin Pundit" crew and guest:

Brower — New England, Houston, Dallas, Kansas City, Arizona, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Tennessee, Indianapolis, Seattle, Green Bay, New Orleans, Washington, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

Waltz — Los Angeles Rams, Houston, Dallas, Kansas City, N.Y. Giants, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Tennessee, Las Vegas, Seattle, Green Bay, New Orleans, San Francisco, Atlanta, Buffalo and Cleveland.

Haskell — New England, Houston, Dallas, Kansas City, N.Y. Giants, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Tennessee, Indianapolis, Seattle, Green Bay, New Orleans, San Francisco, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

Miller — Los Angeles Rams, Houston, Dallas, Kansas City, Arizona, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Tennessee, Indianapolis, Seattle, Green Bay, New Orleans, Washington, Atlanta, Buffalo and Cleveland.

French — Los Angeles Rams, Houston, Dallas, Kansas City, Arizona, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Tennessee, Las Vegas, Seattle, Green Bay, New Orleans, Washington, Los Angeles Chargers, Buffalo and Cleveland.

History lesson

In 2019-20, Waltz finished 165-90-1 (.647 winning percentage), Brower 159-96-1 (.624), Haskell 158-97-1 (.620), Miller 155-100-1 (.608) and guests 158-97-1 (.620).

Among the 'Pigskin Pundits,' Brower had the best weekly records at 14-1 in Week 8 and 13-2-1 in Week 1, while Brad King finished 12-3-1 in Week 1 for the best mark among the guests.

In the playoffs, Miller went 9-2, Waltz and Haskell 7-4, Brower 5-6 and King 3-8. Miller, Waltz, Haskell and Brower correctly picked the Kansas City Chiefs to beat the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl 54, with Haskell’s prediction of 33-23 the closest to the 31-20 final score.

Guest participants in 2019-20 were: Week 1, Brad King of Rockland, 12-3-1; in Week 2, Michele Scheffler of Jefferson, 8-8; in Week 3, Howard Fogg of Monmouth, 11-5; in Week 4, Ethan Butler of Appleton, 7-8; in Week 5, Scott Case of Belfast, 7-8; in Week 6, Emily Cole of Waldoboro, 9-5; in Week 7, Casey Holmes of Dixmont, 11-3; in Week 8, Jacob Light of Warren, 10-5; in Week 9, Chad Blake of Rockland, 6-8; Week 10, Brad Strong of Rockland, 4-9; Week 11, Otis Kneeland of Stockton Springs, 10-4; Week 12, Chris Hart of Rockport, 10-4; Week 13, Sandy Cameron of Belfast, 11-5; Week 14, Dagney Ernest of Thomaston, 10-6; Week 15, Lynsey Carr of Augusta, 11-5; Week 16, Connor Kneeland of Stockton Springs, 12-4; and Week 17, Laura MacDonald, 10-6.

In 2018-19, Waltz was the “top dog” in the regular season as he finished 161-93-2 (.634 winning percentage), thanks to a 16-0 final week, while Miller was second at 157-97-2 (.618), Haskell third at 151-103-2 (.594) and Brower fourth at 142-112-2 (.559). The guests finished 148-106-2 (.583).

Overall, Waltz finished 167-98-2, Miller 162-103-2, Haskell 158-107-2, Brower 150-115-2 and guests 159-110-2.

Brad King of Rockland, who went 11-4 in Week 12 and earned the right to pick against Waltz, Haskell, Miller and Brower in the playoffs.

In the postseason, Brower finished 8-3, Haskell and King 7-4, Waltz 6-5 and Miller 5-6. All five correctly picked the Patriots to defeat the Rams in Super Bowl LIII.

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