As usual, Week 14 of the National Football League season provided good news for some and not such positive feedback for others. And with the regular campaign headed down the home stretch — with a mere three weeks left — the game results become exponentially more important.

The wins and losses last week helped one member of the "Pigskin Pundits" pull slightly ahead of his counterparts, while the guests continued to make a late-season charge and have passed a member of the media prognosticators.

As has been the case in recent weeks, the race to the number one spot continued relatively tight for the four media prognosticators as, after 208 turf battles this pandemic-weary season, six games separate the quartet. The guests are four games off the leader's pace.

Now, it is Week 15 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?

Each week through the Super Bowl, a guest, along with the Courier Publications/VillageSoup group, make predictions on the outcome of games. The outcomes are based on wins and loses, not a points spread.

In Week 14, Miller finished 11-5, Brower 10-6, Waltz 8-8 and Haskell 7-9. Guest Garrett French of Warren ended 11-4.

The Week 15 guest is Brad King of Camden, the two-time defending guest champion. No pressure, but King looks to live up to his own previous lofty status.

After 14 weeks, Reade Brower has compiled a record of 132-75-1 (.638 winning percentage), while Miller and Waltz are 129-78-1 (.623) and Haskell 126-81-1 (609). The guests are 128-79-1 (.618).

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; Week 13, Lucas Brower of Rockland, 11-4; and Week 14, Garrett French of Warren, 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 15th week of the 2020-21 schedule includes:

Thursday, Dec. 17

Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas

Saturday, Dec. 19

Buffalo at Denver

Carolina at Green Bay

Sunday, Dec. 20

Tampa Bay at Atlanta

San Francisco at Dallas

Detroit at Tennessee

Houston at Indianapolis

New England at Miami

Chicago at Minnesota

Seattle at Washington

Jacksonville at Baltimore

N.Y. Jets at Los Angeles Rams

Philadelphia at Arizona

Kansas City at New Orleans

Cleveland at N.Y. Giants

Monday, Dec. 21

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati

The following are the Week 15 picks of the Courier Publications/VillageSoup "Pigskin Pundit" crew and guest:

Brower — Las Vegas, Buffalo, Green Bay, Tampa Bay, Dallas, Tennessee, Indianapolis, New England, Minnesota, Seattle, Baltimore, Los Angeles Rams, Arizona, Kansas City, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

Waltz — Las Vegas, Buffalo, Green Bay, Tampa Bay, Dallas, Tennessee, Indianapolis, Miami, Minnesota, Seattle, Baltimore, Los Angeles Rams, Arizona, Kansas City, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

Haskell — Las Vegas, Buffalo, Green Bay, Tampa Bay, Dallas, Tennessee, Indianapolis, Miami, Chicago, Seattle, Baltimore, Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

Miller — Las Vegas, Buffalo, Green Bay, Tampa Bay, Dallas, Tennessee, Houston, Miami, Chicago, Seattle, Baltimore, Los Angeles Rams, Arizona, Kansas City, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

King — Las Vegas, Buffalo, Green Bay, Tampa Bay, San Francisco, Tennessee, Indianapolis, New England, Chicago, Seattle, Baltimore, Los Angeles Rams, Arizona, New Orleans, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

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.