Like the Atlanta Falcons, who held a 28-3 lead late in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI, Reade Brower has built a commanding advantage over his “Pigskin Pundit” brethren and guests in the weekly National Football League winner/loser guessing game.

However, is it time for the Courier Publications/VillageSoup owner to rest on his laurels? Sit on the ball? Run out the clock?

Or can the others mount a furious and fortuitous late-season comeback, as the Patriots did en route to their glorious 34-28 overtime victory in 2017.

Ryan Verrill

Perhaps, if Brower is a nice guy he will take his foot off the gas, or allow a critical quarterback sack, take an inopportune penalty, throw an interception or miss a field goal. Or Tom Brady will agree to make picks the rest of the way for the trailing pundits to help them make a fourth-quarter comeback.

As in the classic movie “Dumb and Dumber,” there is this priceless exchange between Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) and the girl of his dream, Mary Swanson (Lauren Holly), when Christmas asks if he has a good chance of having a relationship with Swanson:

Swanson: “I’d say more like one out of a million.”

Christmas: After a long pause while he processes what he heard. “So you’re telling me there’s a chance. YEAH!”

That is how all except Brower feel about their ability to win this year pundit pool.

It is possible Las Vegas has set Brower’s odds of coming out as the best football prognosticator of 2021 at 100 percent. So lay down your money on him, unless one wants long odds on the rest of the dog pack.

The 2021-22 NFL regular season is down to a precious handful of games and a mere five weeks of play. The campaign has put 194 games in the books and it is time everyone — except Brower — put up or shut up.

And that starts in Week 14, where there are a ton of difficult matches.

The 13th week of the “Pigskin Pundits” saw Zack Miller finish 11-3, Brower 10-4 and Ken Waltz and Mark Haskell 8-6. Guest Joshua Toothacker of Stockton Springs finished 10-4.

Reade Brower

Thus, through 13 weeks, Brower is 128-65-1 (.663 winning percentage); Haskell, 123-70-1 (.637); Waltz, 121-72-1 (.627) and Miller, 118-75-1 (.611). The guests are 118-75-1 (.611).

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

The Week 14 guest is Ryan Verrill of Warren.

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 in Week 10; Garrett French, Warren, 10-5 in Week 11; Donald Prescott, Rockland, 8-7 in Week 12; and Joshua Toothacker, Stockton Springs, 10-4.

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.

Ken Waltz

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.

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 14 schedule includes:

Thursday, Dec. 9

Pittsburgh at Minnesota

Sunday, Dec. 12

Baltimore at Cleveland

Jacksonville at Tennessee

Las Vegas at Kansas City

Mark Haskell

New Orleans at New York Jets

Dallas at Washington

Atlanta at Carolina

Seattle at Houston

Detroit at Denver

New York Giants at Los Angeles Chargers

San Francisco at Cincinnati

Buffalo at Tampa Bay

Chicago at Green Bay

Monday, Dec. 13

Los Angeles Rams at Arizona

The following are the Week 14 picks of the Courier Publications/VillageSoup “Pigskin Pundits” and guest:

Brower — Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Tennessee, Kansas City, New Orleans, Dallas, Carolina, Seattle, Denver, Los Angeles Chargers, San Francisco, Buffalo, Green Bay and Arizona.

Waltz — Minnesota, Baltimore, Tennessee, Kansas City, New Orleans, Dallas, Atlantas, Seattle, Detroit, Los Angeles Chargers, San Francisco, Tampa Bay, Green Bay and Arizona.

Haskell — Minnesota, Baltimore, Tennessee, Kansas City, New Orleans, Dallas, Carolina, Seattle, Denver, Los Angeles Chargers, San Francisco, Tampa Bay, Green Bay and Los Angeles Rams.

Zack Miller

Zack Miller — Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Tennessee, Kansas City, New Orleans, Dallas, Atlanta, Seattle, Denver, Los Angeles Chargers, San Francisco, Tampa Bay, Green Bay and Los Angeles Rams.

Verrill — Minnesota, Cleveland, Tennessee, Kansas City, New Orleans, Dallas, Atlanta, Houston, Denver, Los Angeles Chargers, Cincinnati, Tampa Bay, Green Bay and Los Angeles Rams.

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.