Place the ball on the tee, kick it off and let the hard-hitting, always-popular, crowd-pleasing 2022 National Football League season get underway.

Reade Brower

And back to predict the weekly outcome of games are the astute “fans” from MaineStay Media/VillageSoup — also known as the “Pigskin Pundits” — namely, Reade Brower (company owner), Ken Waltz (sports director), Mark Haskell (associate sports director) and Zack Miller (Camden Herald managing editor and former sports reporter).

Those four, along with a different weekly guest, will pick the outcome of games.

The games get under way on Thursday, Sept. 8 and, after 18 weeks (17 games) of the regular season, which includes a bye week for all teams, and a few weeks of playoff battles, it will be time for Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 12, 2023 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Az.

As the dog days of summer quickly transition into the brisk days of fall, the start of the NFL regular season is upon us as 32 teams gear up for a run at the coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy.

And, on a Midcoast level, sportswriters and sports aficionados prepare to prove their mental mettle for bragging rights.

For the 24th year, the MaineStay Media/VillageSoup sports staff ushers in its “Pigskin Pundits” weekly NFL game selections, where readers/fans test their football wits against the “professionals.”

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.

The prognosticators and weekly guest go head-to-head when they pick the winners — no scores or point spreads involved — of that week’s slate of games.

After 18 weeks, 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 MaineStay Media/VillageSoup newspapers or one of the organization’s websites.

Last year’s top picker was Ryan Verrill of Warren, who finished 12-2 in Week 14, and earned the right to pick against Waltz, Haskell, Brower and Miller in the postseason.

Last year, in the playoffs, Haskell and Miller finished 9-4, Waltz 8-5, Brower 7-6 and Verrill 6-7, as Haskell, Waltz and Miller correctly picked the Los Angeles Rams to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI.

Mark Haskell

Overall in 2021-22, Brower finished 188-96-1 (.662 winning percentage); Haskell, 184-100-1 (.648); Waltz, 180-104-1 (.634); Zack Miller, 176-108-1 (620); and guests, 176-108-1 (620).

The Week 1 guest for 2022 is Sam Adolphsen of Hope.

Those interested in being a weekly guest picker should email Haskell at mhaskell@villagesoup.com.

The games for Week 1 include:

Sept. 8

Buffalo at Los Angeles Rams

Sept. 11

New Orleans at Atlanta

San Francisco at Chicago

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati

Philadelphia at Detroit

Zack Miller

New England at Miami

Baltimore at New York Jets

Jacksonville at Washington

Cleveland at Carolina

Indianapolis at Houston

New York Giants at Tennessee

Green Bay at Minnesota

Kansas City at Arizona

Las Vegas at Los Angeles Chargers

Tampa Bay at Dallas

Sept. 12

Denver at Seattle

The Week 1 picks for the “Pigskin Pundits” and their weekly guest include:

Brower — Buffalo, Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, New England, Baltimore, Jacksonville, Carolina, Indianapolis, Tennessee, Green Bay, Kansas City, Los Angeles Chargers, Dallas and Seattle.

Sam Adolphsen

Waltz — Buffalo, New Orleans, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Miami, Baltimore, Washington, Carolina, Indianapolis, Tennessee, Minnesota, Arizona, Las Vegas, Tampa Bay and Denver.

Haskell — Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Miami, Baltimore, Jacksonville, Carolina, Indianapolis, Tennessee, Minnesota, Kansas City, Los Angeles Chargers, Tampa Bay and Denver.

Miller — Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Miami, Baltimore, Washington, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Tennessee, Green Bay, Kansas City, Los Angeles Chargers, Dallas and Denver.

Adolphsen — Buffalo, New Orleans, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Detroit, New England, Baltimore, Washington, Carolina, Indianapolis, Tennessee, Minnesota, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Dallas and Denver.

MaineStay Media/VillageSoup sports staff can be reached by email at sports@villagesoup.com.