Now that is more like it.

In lucky Week 13, it almost seemed as if the “experts” knew what they were doing.

Or perhaps, the games were a bit more predictable in what has been an unpredictable National Football League season.

Reade Brower

In any case, the “Pigskin Pundits” had a positive showing in Week 13.

In fact, most were so accurate a couple picked up a game on the red-hot leader. And, as the guessing gods would have it, there is a new top dog among the guests, a person who nearly realized perfection.

The question remains: Can the “pundits” and guests keep the good vibes, good times and winning ways rolling?

Surely, things could get tighter and more interesting going forward as the “pundits” and their guests jockey for position — behind strong leader Mark Haskell, for now — and the coveted top spot after the final touchdowns, extra points and field goals are compiled.

As everyone knows, a lot can change from week to week when it comes to who wins and loses NFL games. It is called the ups and downs, peaks and valleys and the ever-changing nuances of the sport.

One week a team is the greatest since sliced bread. The next, that same squad is on the scrap of historically bad teams who have so far to go to reach the top. And respectability.

As the pundits and their weekly guests continue to realize, predicting the outcome of games is harder than it looks — and always a hit-or-miss proposition.

Will it be more of the same in Week 14, or will there be a dramatic shakeup? Well, it depends on one’s perspective and what the football gods have in mind.

Ken Waltz

As they say in the unpredictable world of weekly football game picking, we shall see. The proof will be in the proverbial pudding.

The MaineStay Media/VillageSoup “Pigskin Pundits” include Reade Brower (company owner), Ken Waltz (sports editor), Haskell (associate sports editor) and Jim Leonard (Republican Journal reporter).

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

In Week 13, Waltz and Leonard finished 11-3-1 and Haskell and Brower 10-4-1. Guest Brandon Hurd of Brooks finished 13-1-1, one game from perfection, to set a new lofty standard to chase.

Thirteen weeks into another crazy NFL campaign, Haskell remains in first at 125-68-2 (.648 winning percentage), Brower 118-75-2 (.611), Waltz 117-76-2 (.606), Leonard 116-77-2 (.602) and guests 118-75-2 (.612).

Thus, Haskell leads Brower and the guests by seven games, Waltz eight and Leonard nine as the NFL’s regular campaign heads down the back stretch.

The Week 14 guest is Ryan Verrill of Warren.

This season for the guests, Sam Adolphsen of Hope finished 6-9-1 in Week 1, Rachel Coor of Damariscotta 7-9 in Week 2, Zach Smith of Belfast 6-10 in Week 3, Dan Falla of Tenants Harbor 10-6 in Week 4, Quinn Commeau of Rockland 11-5 in Week 5, Chris Audet of Searsport 8-6 in Week 6, Casey Holmes of Dixmont 9-5 in Week 7, Sam Bickford of Vinalhaven 9-6 in Week 8, Ethan Abbott of Belmont 9-4 in Week 9, Ibrahim Moustapher of Camden 8-6 in Week 10, Connor Light of Warren 10-4 in Week 11, Amin Hernandez of St. George 11-5 in Week 12 and Brandon Hurd of Brooks 13-1-1 in Week 13.

Thus far, Brower and Haskell have the best weekly records among the “pundits” at 13-3 in Week 4 when total number of wins are tabulated, or Haskell at 12-2 in Week 7 (.857) if winning percentage is the deciding criteria. Brandon Hurd of Brooks (13-1-1) in Week 13, Amin Hernandez of St. George (11-5) in Week 12 and Quinn Commeau (11-5) in Week 5, as well as Connor Light (10-4) in Week 11, have the top marks among guests.

Mark Haskell

The NFL games got under way on 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 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 look 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 “pros.”

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 points 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.

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

The games for Week 14 include:

Dec. 8

Las Vegas at Los Angeles Rams

Dec. 11

New York Jets at Buffalo

Cleveland at Cincinnati

Jim Leonard

Houston at Dallas

Minnesota at Detroit

Jacksonville at Tennessee

Philadelphia at New York Giants

Baltimore at Pittsburgh

Kansas City at Denver

Tampa Bay at San Francisco

Carolina at Seattle

Miami at Los Angeles Chargers

Dec. 12

New England at Arizona

The Week 14 picks for the “Pigskin Pundits” and their guest include:

Brower — Las Vegas, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Dallas, Minnesota, Tennessee, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Seattle, Miami and New England.

Waltz — Las Vegas, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Dallas, Detroit, Tennessee, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Seattle, Miami and New England.

Ryan Verrill

Haskell — Las Vegas, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Dallas, Minnesota, Tennessee, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, San Francisco, Seattle, Miami and Arizona.

Leonard — Las Vegas, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Dallas, Detroit, Tennessee, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Seattle, Miami and Arizona.

Verrill — Las Vegas, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Dallas, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Kansas City, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Miami and New England.

History lesson

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

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.

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

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