The National Football League is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get.

Thank you, Forrest Gump, who knew a thing or two about making an interesting, but challenging journey through life, with its ups and downs, good and bad.

Joshua Toothacker

That, of course, could be said about the NFL regular season, a compelling book filled with interesting chapters, that includes plenty of twists and turns along the way.

No wonder it is so difficult to predict the winner of weekly games.

The “Pigskin Pundits” have found that to be true.

With that stated, it was another uneven week for the media guessers and guest, as a new sole leader — a former sole and co-leader — emerged from the Week 12 scramble.

Alas, the campaign is 180 games old with plenty of football — and certainly an end zone full of surprises — to come. The final six weeks of the campaign are upon us.

The 12th week of the “Pigskin Pundits” saw Reade Brower finish 10-5, Ken Waltz 9-6 and Mark Haskell and Zack Miller 7-8. Guest Donald Prescott of Rockland ended 8-7.

Thus, through 12 weeks, Brower is 118-61-1 (.659 winning percentage); Haskell, 115-64-1 (.642); Waltz, 113-66-1 (.631) and Miller, 107-72-1 (.581). The guests are 108-71-1 (.603).

The numbers show Brower holds three-, five-, 10- and 11-game advantages over those in the field.

The Week 13 guest is Joshua Toothacker of Stockton Springs.

Reade Brower

Thus far, Brower has experienced the most productive week among the “Pigskin Pundits” at 13-2 in Week 8, while Scott Cournoyer of Swanville has been the best guest picker at 12-4 in Week 3.

The guests’ records this fall include: 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; Garrett French, Warren, 10-5; and Donald Prescott of Rockland 8-7.

The “Pigskin Pundits” of Courier Publications/VillageSoup are in their 23rd consecutive year as they make weekly game selections, with a guest each week.

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.

Readers/fans are invited to test their football wits against the “pros.”

Those interested in being a weekly guest can email Haskell at mhaskell@courierpublicationsllc.com.

Ken Waltz

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 — 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 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 the Courier Publications/VillageSoup newspapers or one of the organization’s websites.

The NFL’s Week 13 schedule includes:

Thursday, Dec. 2

Dallas at New Orleans

Sunday, Dec. 5

Tampa Bay at Atlanta

Arizona at Chicago

Los Angeles Chargers at Cincinnati

Minnesota at Detroit

New York Giants at Miami

Philadelphia at New York Jets

Indianapolis at Houston

Washington at Las Vegas

Mark Haskell

Jacksonville at Los Angeles Rams

Baltimore at Pittsburgh

San Francisco at Seattle

Denver at Kansas City

Monday, Dec. 6

New England at Buffalo

The following are the Week 13 picks of the Courier Publications/VillageSoup “Pigskin Pundits” and guest:

Brower — Dallas, Tampa Bay, Arizona, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Miami, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Kansas City and New England.

Waltz — Dallas, Tampa Bay, Arizona, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Miami, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles Rams, Baltimore, San Francisco, Kansas City and Buffalo.

Haskell — New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Arizona, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Miami, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles Rams, Baltimore, San Francisco, Kansas City and New England.

Zack Miller — Dallas, Tampa Bay, Arizona, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Miami, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Washington, Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Kansas City and New England.

Zack Miller

Toothacker — Dallas, Tampa Bay, Arizona, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Miami, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles Rams, Baltimore, Seattle, Kansas City and New England.

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.

Courier Publications/VillageSoup sports staff can be reached by email at sports@villagesoup.com.