Fickle is as fickle does.

That is what Forrest Gump might say about the weekly outcomes of National Football League games and perhaps, in extension, the somewhat feeble attempts by the “Pigskin Pundits” to figure out which team will win.

Reade Brower

After tremendous Week 13 progress — at least overall record-wise — the “pundits” and guest took a signifcant step back in Week 14 as they chased, for prosperity only, .500 records.

Now, that will not help the overall season’s bottom line.

Perhaps the only good news is a couple of “pundits” picked up a game on the longtime leader, albeit as the weeks dwindle and time expires on the 2022-23 campaign.

The question, as always, remains: Can the “pundits” and guests rekindle the good vibes, good times and winning ways?

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.

Ken Waltz

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 15, or will there be a dramatic shakeup? Well, it depends on one’s perspective and what the football gods have in mind.

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 14, Waltz and Brower finished 7-6 and Haskell and Leonard 6-7. Guest Ryan Verrill of Warren also finished at 6-7.

Fourteen weeks into another crazy NFL campaign, Haskell remains first at 131-75-2 (.636 winning percentage), Brower 125-81-2 (.607), Waltz 124-82-2 (.602), Leonard 122-84-2 (.592) and guests 124-82-2 (.602).

Thus, Haskell leads Brower by six games, Waltz seven and Leonard nine as the NFL’s regular campaign heads down the home stretch. The guests are seven games back of the leader.

The Week 15 guest is Beckett Haskell of Rockland. He is the son of Mark Haskell, this year’s game-guessing leader.

Mark Haskell

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, Brandon Hurd of Brooks 13-1-1 in Week 13 and Ryan Verrill of Warren 6-7 in Week 14.

Thus far, Brower and Mark Haskell have the best weekly records among the “pundits” at 13-3 in Week 4 when total number of wins are tabulated, or Mark 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.

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.”

Jim Leonard

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 15 include:

Dec. 15

San Francisco at Seattle

Dec. 17

Indianapolis at Minnesota

Baltimore at Cleveland

Miami at Buffalo

Dec. 18

Philadelphia at Chicago

Atlanta at New Orleans

Detroit at New York Jets

Pittsburgh at Carolina

Dallas at Jacksonville

Kansas City at Houston

Beckett Haskell

Arizona at Denver

New England at Las Vegas

Tennessee at Los Angeles Chargers

Cincinnati at Tampa Bay

New York Giants at Washington

Dec. 19

Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay

The Week 15 picks for the “Pigskin Pundits” and their guest include:

Brower — Seattle, Minnesota, Baltimore, Buffalo, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Dallas, Kansas City, Denver, New England, Tennessee, Tampa Bay, Washington and Green Bay.

Waltz — Seattle, Minnesota, Cleveland, Buffalo, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Detroit, Carolina, Dallas, Kansas City, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles Chargers, Cincinnati, Washington and Green Bay.

Mark Haskell — Seattle, Minnesota, Baltimore, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Detroit, Carolina, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles Chargers, Cincinnati, Washington and Green Bay.

Leonard — Seattle, Minnesota, Cleveland, Buffalo, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Dallas, Kansas City, Denver, New England, Los Angeles Chargers, Cincinnati, Washington and Green Bay.

Beckett Haskell — San Francisco, Minnesota, Baltimore, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Detroit, Carolina, Dallas, Kansas City, Denver, New England, Los Angeles Chargers, Cincinnati, New York Giants and Green Bay.

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.