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Football bragging rights

With regular season in books, 'Pigskin Pundits' set for playoff prognostications

For second straight year, Waltz best guesser in regular campaign, King again rules guest pickers
By Staff | Jan 03, 2020
Artwork by: Christine Dunkle

"The more things change, the more they remain the same," a phrase coined by French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr.

That statement essentially sums up this year's Courier Publications/VillageSoup National Football League weekly picks, as the same people who finished first last year repeated that feat in 2019.

Now the real fun begins as the single-elimination playoffs are set to kick off.

And Ken Waltz, who also finished first in the regular season last year, made it back-to-back firsts by staying a step ahead of the picking pack this season.

Additionally, Brad King of Rockland, last year's best weekly guest picker, again earned bragging rights this season. Ultimately, Brad was the King of the guest guessing court.

The NFL regular season has concluded and the postseason will begin on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 4-5.

Thus, the first steps on teams' run for the coveted Super Bowl championship commences over the weekend.

It is first week of the 2019-20 National Football League playoffs and, subsequently, the weekly game picks from the Courier Publications/VillageSoup prognosticators and guests.

Those who participate — referred to as the "Pigskin Pundits" — are Reade Brower, owner; Waltz, sports director; Mark Haskell, associate sports director; and Zack Miller, sports reporter. A guest also participates each week.

The picks appear each week — usually on Thursday or Friday — online.

Each year during the NFL season, through the Super Bowl, Brower, Waltz, Haskell, Miller, as well as a weekly guest, go head-to-head against one another by picking that week’s slate of pro football games.

The game “winners” are not selected by a points spread, but merely the final score.

In Week 17, the final one of the regular season,  Brower and Haskell finished 9-7, Waltz 8-8 and Miller 7-9, while the guest, Laura MacDonald of North Haven, finished topped the group at 10-6.

Thus, after 17 weeks, 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 Courier Publications/VillageSoup prognosticators, Brower had the best weekly records at 14-1 in Week 8 and 13-2-1 in Week 1, while Brad King of Rockland, also last year's guest winner, finished 12-3-1 in Week 1 for the best mark among the guests.

For the guests in 2019-20, in Week 1, Brad King of Rockland finished 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.

After 17 weeks, the guest with the best weekly record returns 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 any of Courier Publications' newspapers or either of the organization's websites.

Last year’s guest winner was King, who finished 11-4 in Week 12 and earned the right to pick against Waltz, Haskell, Miller and Brower in the playoffs.

For decades, the weekly picks were featured in the print editions of Courier Publications’ newspapers, The Courier-GazetteThe Camden Herald and The Republican Journal. Now, those picks are made exclusively on the organization’s websites — and

It also is the 21st year the media company has coordinated weekly game picks during the pro football campaign.

So, who do you like in Wild Card Weekend, the battles between American Football Conference and National Football Conference opponents? Below is what our "experts" and guest think.

The first week's playoff schedule includes:

Saturday, Jan. 4

AFC: No. 5 Buffalo at No. 4 Houston — 4:35 p.m.

AFC: No. 6 Tennessee at No. 3 New England — 8:15 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 5

NFC: No. 6 Minnesota at No. 3 New Orleans — 1:05 p.m.

NFC: No. 5 Seattle at No. 4 Philadelphia — 4:40 p.m.

The following are the first week's playoff picks of the Courier Publications/VillageSoup crew and guest:

Brower — Buffalo, New England, New Orleans and Seattle.

Waltz — Buffalo, Tennessee, New Orleans and Philadelphia.

Haskell — Buffalo, Tennessee, New Orleans and Seattle.

Miller — Houston, Tennessee, New Orleans and Seattle.

King — Houston, New England, New Orleans and Philadelphia.

History lesson

Last season, 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.

Last year’s weekly guest winner was 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 or by phone at 594-4401.

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