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Football bragging rights

Cards on table, 'Pigskin Pundits' play final week to win or lose marbles

With one-game edge, Brower leads field at 154 victories in 240 gridiron battles; Cole set to bring it as guest in Week 17
By Staff | Jan 02, 2021

After 16 weeks, 240 games, plenty of joy and exasperation and surely more than a few hairs pulled from heads, it has come to this.

A final Sunday with 16 turf battles between the National Football League's 32 teams as a handful fight for playoff spots, others for postseason position and more than a few to finish on a strong note as they head into 2021.

So, what is on the line? All-important bragging rights, of course.

In fact, one game separates the top two prognosticators and five games the four weekly media pickers. The guests are seven off the pace.

In one of the tightest finishes in more than two decades of football game picking follies and fun, at the end of play on Sunday, Jan. 3, someone will earn the coveted regular-season title and the others will be, well, exasperated.

Prognosticators again experienced strong overall success in Week 16, but with one week to go, it appears anyone's game.

The race to the number one spot continued relatively tight for the four media prognosticators as, after 240 turf battles in this pandemic-weary season, five games separate the quartet.

Now, it is Week 17 of the NFL regular season and the outcomes of the previous week's prognostications tightened the season's race to first between the "Pigskin Pundits" and guests.

This year, the "Pigskin Pundits" and their weekly guests are back for predictions in the 22nd annual version of the harder-than-it-looks guessing games.

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

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 16, Haskell and Waltz finished 12-4, Brower 11-5 and Miller 8-8. Guest Sam Clement of Bennington, Vt. (originally from Lincolnville) finished 9-7.

The Week 17 guest is Laurie Cole of Rockland.

After 16 weeks, Reade Brower has compiled an overall record of 154-85-1 (.644 winning percentage), Waltz 153-86-1 (.640), Haskell 150-89-1 (.628) and Miller 149-90-1 (. 623). The guests are 147-52-1 (.615).

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; Week 14, Garrett French of Warren, 11-4; Week 15, Brad King of Camden, 10-6; and Week 16, Sam Clement of Bennington, Vt. (originally from Lincolnville), 9-7.

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-GazetteCamden 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 next year should email Mark Haskell at mhaskell@courierpublicationsllc.com.

The 17th and final week of the 2020-21 regular-season schedule includes:

Sunday, Jan. 3

Miami at Buffalo

Baltimore at Cincinnati

Pittsburgh at Cleveland

Minnesota at Detroit

N.Y. Jets at New England

Dallas at N.Y. Giants

Atlanta at Tampa Bay

Green Bay at Chicago

Las Vegas at Denver

Jacksonville at Indianapolis

Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City

Arizona at Los Angeles Rams

Seattle at San Francisco

New Orleans at Carolina

Tennessee at Houston

Washington at Philadelphia

The following are the Week 17 picks of the Courier Publications/VillageSoup "Pigskin Pundits" and guest:

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

Waltz — Buffalo, Baltimore, Cleveland, Minnesota, N.Y. Jets, Dallas, Tampa Bay, Chicago, Las Vegas, Indianapolis, Los Angeles Chargers, Arizona, Seattle, New Orleans, Tennessee and Philadelphia.

Haskell — Buffalo, Baltimore, Cleveland, Minnesota, N.Y. Jets, Dallas, Tampa Bay, Green Bay, Las Vegas, Indianapolis, Los Angeles Chargers, Arizona, Seattle, New Orleans, Tennessee and Washington.

Miller — Buffalo, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, N.Y. Jets, Dallas, Tampa Bay, Green Bay, Las Vegas, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle, New Orleans, Tennessee and Philadelphia.

Cole — Buffalo, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, N.Y. Jets, Dallas, Tampa Bay, Green Bay, Las Vegas, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle, New Orleans, Tennessee and Washington.

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.

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