NFL bragging rights

Playoff prediction pressure ratchets up for six 'experts'

Brower, Haskell, Cooper 3-1 after first week of postseason, others 2-2
By Staff | Jan 12, 2018

Rockland — The 2017-18 National Football League postseason has kicked off and after the first week of games it was positive news for three weekly predictors and a more break-even scenario for three others.

Reade Brower, the regular-season champion, Mark Haskell and Mark Cooper finished 3-1, while Ken Waltz, Zack Miller and Sandy Cameron ended 2-2 as the six continue to tackle the playoff picture.

For 17 straight weeks of the regular season, Courier Publications/VillageSoup's "Pigskin Pundits" matched wits with a guest each week to pick the winners of the games.

The weekly pundits who participated in the 19th consecutive year of the pro football selections were Courier Publications/VillageSoup owner Brower, Sports Director Waltz and Associate Sports Director Haskell.

Games were picked for “winners,” not on a points spread, but simply the final score.

That trio and the guests with the best weekly records will pick the winners of games in the on-going postseason — through the Super Bowl.

The guests who will participate in the playoffs are Miller of Rockland, Cameron of Belfast and Cooper of Fairfield.

To earn a spot in the playoffs, Miller finished 13-0 in Week 8, Cameron 13-3 in Week 12 and Cooper 13-3 in Week 16. Miller was the overall best guest picker, but is an employee of Courier Publications/VillageSoup, thus, to be fair to all, the next guests with the best weekly records also will participate in the postseason.

The guests this season were Kyle Durkee of Waldoboro in Week 1 (12-3), Laurie Cole of Rockland in Week 2 (11-5), Cameron Watson of Searsport in Week 3 (7-9), Ryan Snell of Waldoboro in Week 4 (10-6), Tom Peaco of Rockland in Week 5 (6-8), Collin Landry of Rockland in Week 6 (7-7), Anthony Raye of Rockland in Week 7 (10-5), Zack Miller of Rockland in Week 8 (13-0), Scott Case of Belfast in Week 9 (8-5), Rachel Coor of Union and New York, N.Y. in Week 10 (10-4), Ryan Verrill of Warren in Week 11 (9-5), Sandy Cameron of Belfast in Week 12 (13-3), Bev Sherwin of Thomaston in Week 13 (10-6), Jeff Hart of Rockport in Week 14 (12-4), Wes Drinkwater of South Thomaston in Week 15 (10-6), Mark Cooper of Fairfield in Week 16 (13-3) and Chris Donlin in Week 17 (8-8).

In regular-season predictions, Brower enjoyed an unbelievably consistent and dominating year. He led the pack at 178-78 (.695 winning percentage), while the guests finished second at 169-87 (.660), Haskell third at 156-100 (.609) and Waltz fourth at 153-103 (.598).

After the dust settled, Brower finished with a nine-game advantage over the guests, 22-game advantage over Haskell and whopping 25-game cushion over Waltz, who sat in the last-place position most of the season.

Brower's uncanny, accurate predictions this season were perhaps the most dominant overall in the nearly two decades of the company's weekly picks.

The schedule for the second round of the playoffs — the divisional round — includes:

Saturday, Jan. 13

Atlanta at Philadelphia

Tennessee at New England

Sunday, Jan. 14

Jacksonville at Pittsburgh

New Orleans at Minnesota

You picked who?

Miller: Atlanta, New England, Pittsburgh and Minnesota.

Cameron: Philadelphia, New England, Pittsburgh and New Orleans.

Cooper: Philadelphia, New England, Pittsburgh and New Orleans.

Brower: Atlanta, New England, Pittsburgh and New Orleans.

Haskell: Philadelphia, New England, Pittsburgh and New Orleans.

Waltz: Philadelphia, New England, Jacksonville and Minnesota.

Last year's results

Haskell finished 173-92-2 overall (.653 winning percentage), including 8-3 in the playoffs. Waltz finished 171-94-2 (.645), including 7-4 in the postseason. Brower finished 169-96-2 (.638), including a perfect 11-0 in the playoffs. Chris Donlin, at 13-3 in Week 17, was the guest who earned the right to participate in the playoffs, and he finished 8-3 in the postseason and helped guests finish 170-95-2 (.642).

Each prognosticator selected New England to beat Atlanta in the Super Bowl, and the Patriots rallied to prevail 34-28. Waltz predicted 38-28, Haskell 34-24, Brower 34-23 and Donlin 27-17.

During the regular season, Haskell finished with the best individual week at 15-1 in Week 15. In regular-season play, Haskell finished 165-89-2, Waltz 164-90-2 and Brower 158-96-2.

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

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