There is so much to be thankful this time of year, including family, friends, food, and, of course, health.

One thing National Football League followers are not thankful for is trying their darndest to figure out which team will win any given game on any given Sunday — or Thursday or Monday.

Reade Brower

It is such a crap shoot and, in some respects, so mentally exhausting.

With that said, Week 11 was solid for the “Pigskin Pundits,” and especially their guest.

And the news gets better because not only do we get to stuff our faces, alongside friends and family on Thanksgiving Day, we also can feast on a full plate of games on Thursday, Nov. 24.

That, of course, will be followed by more games on Sunday, Nov. 27 and one final weekly gridiron clash on Monday, Nov. 28.

Our plates indeed will be full.

The only question is, will the weekly game predictors soar like eagles or be grounded like turkeys — well, at least the ones not roosting in trees.

Surely, things could get tighter and more interesting going forward as the “pundits” and their guests jockey for position and the coveted top spot after the final touchdowns, extra points and field goals are compiled.

As everyone knows, a lot can change from week to week when it comes to who wins and loses NFL games. It is called the ups and downs, peaks and valleys and the ever-changing nuances of the sport.

One week a team is the greatest since sliced bread. The next, that same squad is on the scrap of historically bad teams who have so far to go to reach the top. And respectability.

As the pundits and their weekly guests continue to realize, predicting the outcome of games is harder than it looks — and always a hit-or-miss proposition.

Will it be more of the same in Week 12, or will there be a dramatic shakeup? Well, it depends on one’s perspective and what the football gods have in mind.

Ken Waltz

As they say in the unpredictable world of weekly football game picking, we shall see. The proof will be in the proverbial pudding.

The MaineStay Media/VillageSoup “Pigskin Pundits” include Reade Brower (company owner), Ken Waltz (sports editor), Mark Haskell (associate sports editor) and Leonard (Republican Journal reporter).

Those four, along with a different weekly guest, pick the outcome of games.

In Week 11, Haskell, Waltz and Leonard finished 9-5 and Brower 8-6. Guest Connor Light of Warren led the way at 10-4.

Eleven weeks into another crazy NFL campaign, Haskell remains in first at 103-60-1 (.632 winning percentage), Brower 100-63-1 (.613), Waltz 97-66-1 (.595), Leonard 96-67-1 (.589) and the guests 94-69-1 (.577).

Thus, Haskell leads Brower by three games, Waltz six, Leonard seven and guests nine as the NFL’s regular campaign heads down the back stretch.

This season for the guests, Sam Adolphsen of Hope finished 6-9-1 in Week 1, Rachel Coor of Damariscotta 7-9 in Week 2, Zach Smith of Belfast 6-10 in Week 3, Dan Falla of Tenants Harbor 10-6 in Week 4, Quinn Commeau of Rockland 11-5 in Week 5, Chris Audet of Searsport 8-6 in Week 6, Casey Holmes of Dixmont 9-5 in Week 7, Sam Bickford of Vinalhaven 9-6 in Week 8, Ethan Abbott of Belmont 9-4 in Week 9, Ibrahim Moustapher of Camden 8-6 in Week 10 and Connor Light of Warren 10-4 in Week 11.

The Week 12 guest is Amin Hernandez of St. George.

Thus far, Brower and Haskell have the best weekly records among the “pundits” at 13-3 in Week 4 when total number of wins are tabulated, or Haskell at 12-2 in Week 7 (.857) if winning percentage is the criteria. Commeau (11-5) in Week 5 and Light (10-4) in Week 11 have the top marks among guests.

The NFL games got under way on Sept. 8 and, after 18 weeks (17 games) of the regular season, which includes a bye week for all teams, and a few weeks of playoff battles, it will be time for Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 12, 2023 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Az.

Mark Haskell

As the dog days of summer quickly transition into the brisk days of fall, the start of the regular season is upon us as 32 teams gear up for a run at the coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy.

And, on a Midcoast level, sportswriters and sports aficionados look to prove their mental mettle for bragging rights.

For the 24th year, the MaineStay Media/VillageSoup sports staff ushers in its “Pigskin Pundits” weekly NFL game selections, where readers/fans test their football wits against the “pros.”

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 prognosticators and weekly guest go head-to-head when they pick the winners — no scores or points spreads involved — of that week’s slate of games.

After 18 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 one of MaineStay Media/VillageSoup newspapers or one of the organization’s websites.

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

The games for Week 12 include:

Nov. 24

Buffalo at Detroit

New York Giants at Dallas

New England at Minnesota

Nov. 27

Tampa Bay at Cleveland

Cincinnati at Tennessee

Houston at Miami

Jim Leonard

Chicago at New York Jets

Atlanta at Washington

Denver at Carolina

Baltimore at Jacksonville

Los Angeles Chargers at Arizona

Las Vegas at Seattle

Los Angeles Rams at Kansas City

New Orleans at San Francisco

Green Bay at Philadelphia

Nov. 28

Pittsburgh at Indianapolis

The Week 12 picks for the “Pigskin Pundits” and their guest include:

Brower — Buffalo, Dallas, New England, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Miami, Chicago, Washington, Denver, Baltimore, Los Angeles Chargers, Seattle, Kansas City, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Indianapolis.

Waltz — Buffalo, Dallas, New England, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Miami, New York Jets, Washington, Denver, Baltimore, Los Angeles Chargers, Seattle, Kansas City, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Indianapolis.

Haskell —Buffalo, Dallas, Minnesota, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Miami, New York Jets, Atlanta, Carolina, Baltimore, Los Angeles Chargers, Seattle, Kansas City, San Francisco, Green Bay and Pittsburgh.

Amin Hernandez

Leonard — Buffalo, New York Giants, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Miami, Chicago, Washington, Carolina, Baltimore, Los Angeles Chargers, Seattle, Kansas City, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Indianapolis.

Hernandez — Buffalo, Dallas, Minnesota, Cleveland, Tennessee, Miami, New York Jets, Washington, Denver, Baltimore, Los Angeles Chargers, Seattle, Kansas City, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Indianapolis.

History lesson

Last year’s top guest picker was Ryan Verrill of Warren, who finished 12-2 in Week 14, and earned the right to pick against Waltz, Haskell, Brower and former picker Zack Miller in the postseason.

In the playoffs, Haskell and Miller finished 9-4, Waltz 8-5, Brower 7-6 and Verrill 6-7, as Haskell, Waltz and Miller correctly picked the Los Angeles Rams to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI.

Overall in 2021-22, Brower finished 188-96-1 (.662); Haskell, 184-100-1 (.648); Waltz, 180-104-1 (.634); Zack Miller, 176-108-1 (620); and guests, 176-108-1 (620).

MaineStay Media/VillageSoup sports staff can be reached by email at sports@villagesoup.com.