Wow. How much fun was the divisional round of the National Football League playoffs? Epic games with epic endings. Talk about unpredictability.

And, for two of the four “Pigskin Pundits,” a stellar, if not “epic” week of predictions for which postseason squads would come out on top.

Reade Brower

Mark Haskell and Reade Brower finished 3-1 after the four down-to-the-wire divisional round games, while Zack Miller ended 2-2 and Ken Waltz, along with guest Ryan Verrill, got punched in the gut at 1-3.

So the second week of the playoffs was uplifting for some, painful for others.

In the first week, Waltz finished 5-1 during the Super Wild Card Weekend, while Brower, Haskell and Zack Miller, among the pundits, and guest Verrill, ended 4-2.

Thus, in the playoffs, Brower and Haskell stand at 7-3; Waltz, and Miller, 6-4; and Verrill, 5-5.

Overall in 2021-22, Brower is 188-93-1 (.669 winning percentage); Haskell, 182-99-1 (.648); Waltz, 178-103-1 (.633); Zack Miller, 173-108-1 (616); and guests, 175-106-1 (.623).

Now more fun is on the horizon as the playoffs are down to the fantastic four, with berths in the coveted Super Bowl, in the balance.

The NFL season is slowly, but surely, winding down. There were 18 weeks (17 games) of regular-season games and the second of four weeks of playoffs are in the books.

From September through January, and despite plenty of injuries, ups and downs and COVID-19-related issues for teams, the regular campaign put 272 games — and now the first 10 postseason games — in the books.

Ken Waltz

Brower, who played an impressive .670 ball during the regular season to finish as champion, will see if he can stay on top of his game and field during the postseason and through Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.

Brower stared down challengers and, in reality, was never truly tested down the stretch.

Verrill of Warren emerged as the best guest picker at 12-2 in Week 14. Scott Cournoyer of Swanville held that distinction 10 weeks before being overtaken by Verrill.

Thus, Verrill will predict the win/loss outcomes of games against the “Pigskin Pundits” through the playoffs and Super Bowl.

Through 18 weeks of the regular season, Brower finished 181-90-1 (.668 winning percentage); Haskell, 175-96-1 (.645); Waltz, 172-99-1 (.635); and Miller, 167-104-1 (.616). The guests finished 170-101-1 (.627).

Waltz was the top weekly picker among the “Pigskin Pundits” at 14-2 in Week 17, as he edged Brower’s 13-2 mark in Week 8.

Mark Haskell

The guests’ records this fall, with name, town, record and week listed, included: Howard Fogg Jr., Monmouth, 8-8 in Week 1; Troy Smith, Waldoboro, 11-5 in Week 2; Scott Cournoyer, Swanville, 12-4 in Week 3; Bradley Strong, Rockland, 10-6 in Week 4; Mike Curtis, Thomaston, 10-6 in Week 5; Jason Karam, Warren, 10-4 in Week 6; and Meagan Miller, Warren, 8-5 in Week 7; David Page, Winslow, 10-5 in Week 8; Mike Fuller, Islesboro, 4-10 in Week 9; Kristin Falla, Tenants Harbor, 7-6-1 in Week 10; Garrett French, Warren, 10-5 in Week 11; Donald Prescott, Rockland, 8-7 in Week 12; Joshua Toothacker, Stockton Springs, 10-4 in Week 13; Ryan Verrill, Warren, 12-2 in Week 14; Jeff Hart, Camden Hills, 9-7 in Week 15; Jared Porter, Thomaston, 9-7 in Week 16; Casey Holmes, Dixmont, 11-5 in Week 17; and Rachel Coor, Warren, 11-5 in Week 18.

The “Pigskin Pundits” of MaineStay Media/VillageSoup are in their 23rd year as they make weekly game selections, with a guest.

Each year during the pro football season, Waltz (sports director), Haskell (associate sports director), Zack Miller (community editor, former sports reporter), Brower (company owner) and a weekly guest go head-to-head to pick the winners (no scores or points spreads involved) of that week’s slate of games.

Zack Miller

During the regular season, readers/fans are invited to test their football wits against the “pros.”

Those interested in being a weekly guest emailed Haskell at

For decades, the weekly picks were featured in MaineStay Media newspapers The Courier-Gazette, Camden Herald and The Republican Journal. Now, those picks are made exclusively on the organization’s websites — and — and appear most Thursdays.

For nearly a quarter century, the media foursome and guests have returned for the harder-than-it-looks weekly guessing games.

After 18 weeks, with the regular season extended to 17 weeks and one bye week, the guest with the best weekly record return to pick against Waltz, Haskell, Miller and Brower for the playoffs and Super Bowl. The guest with the best weekly record — this year, Verrill — also will receive a year’s subscription to one of the MaineStay Media/VillageSoup newspapers or one of the organization’s websites.

Ryan Verrill

The NFL’s conference championship schedule includes:

Sunday, Jan. 30

AFC: Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas Chiefs.

NFC: San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams.

The following are the third round picks of the Courier Publications/VillageSoup “Pigskin Pundits” and guest:

Brower — San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs.

Waltz — Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs.

Haskell — Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs.

Zack Miller — Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals.

Verrill — San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals.

History lesson

Last year’s top guest picker was Howard Fogg Jr. of Monmouth. He earned a 13-3 record in Week 2 to earn the distinction. As the defending guest champion, he returns as the Week 1 guest in 2021.

After 17 weeks of the 2020-21 regular season, Brower finished 166-89-1 (.651 winning percentage), Waltz, 164-91-1 (.643); Haskell, 163-92-1 (.639); and Miller, 160-95-1 (.627). The guests finished 159-56-1 (.624).

Ultimately, after 256 gridiron clashes from September to January, that included one tie, Brower prevailed by two games over Waltz, three over Haskell and six over Miller, as well seven over the guests.

In the postseason, Haskell proved the top picker with a 10-3 record, while Waltz and Fogg finished 9-4; Miller, 8-5; and Brower, 6-7. Waltz, Miller and Fogg correctly picked the Buccaneers to win Super Bowl LV.

For the media crew, Miller and Waltz finished tied with the best weekly records at 14-2 in Week 2, while, for the guests, Fogg earned the best weekly mark at 13-3 in Week 2, thus will pick against the media members in the playoffs.

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 LIV, with Haskell’s prediction of 33-23 the closest to the 31-20 final score.

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.

MaineStay Media/VillageSoup sports staff can be reached by email at