The time is nigh to make haste and let us be quick about it.

Those are words from a movie, book, the Bible?, who knows, that are, of course, redundant, but funny. And applicable in this case.

For the “Pigskin Pundits,” urgency is in the air if any of them, or their guests, for that matter, want to unseat season-long guessing leader Mark Haskell. They each have an uphill climb, but it is doable  — with luck.

Reade Brower

The National Football League regular season has come down to a precious few weeks so if your favorite team is going to make a playoff push, now is the time to get in gear.

The same can be said of the “pundits,” who will “qualify” for the postseason whether they were naughty or nice this year, but must do what they can the next several weeks to challenge Haskell for the top spot.

Will they go out on a limb? Will they play it safe? Will they go for the end zone or simply try to pick up a few first downs and let the clock run down?

Of course, making up ground at the end of the campaign can be a challenge. While selecting the outcomes of games during the regular season is, at best, unpredictable, that can be magnified at this point because it is difficult to know the health and motivation of each team.

In any case, we are on to Week 16.

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.

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

Ken Waltz

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 16, 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.

In Week 15, Waltz and Leonard finished 12-4, Haskell 11-5 and Brower 9-7. Guest Beckett Haskell of Rockland also finished 11-5.

Fifteen weeks into another crazy NFL campaign, Mark Haskell remains first at 142-80-2 (.640 winning percentage), Waltz 136-86-2 (.613), Brower 135-87-2 (.608) and Leonard 135-87-2 (.608). The guests are 134-88-2 (.604).

Thus, Mark Haskell leads Waltz by six games and Brower and Leonard seven as the campaign heads down the home stretch. The guests are eight games back of the leader.

The Week 16 guest is Jeremiah LaBree of Cushing.

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, Ryan Verrill of Warren 6-7 in Week 14 and Beckett Haskell of Rockland 11-5 in Week 15.

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, Beckett Haskell of Rockland (11-5) in Week 15, Amin Hernandez of St. George (11-5) in Week 12 and Quinn Commeau (11-5) in Week 5, 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.”

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 — and

Jim Leonard

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

The games for Week 16 include:

Dec. 22

Jacksonville at New York Jets

Dec. 24

Buffalo at Chicago

New Orleans at Cleveland

Houston at Tennessee

Seattle at Kansas City

New York Giants at Minnesota

Cincinnati at New England

Detroit at Carolina

Atlanta at Baltimore

Jeremiah LaBree

Washington at San Francisco

Philadelphia at Dallas

Las Vegas at Pittsburgh

Dec. 25

Green Bay at Miami

Denver at Los Angeles Rams

Tampa Bay at Arizona

Dec. 26

Los Angeles Chargers at Indianapolis

The Week 16 picks for the “Pigskin Pundits” and their guest include:

Brower — Jacksonville, Buffalo, Cleveland, Tennessee, Kansas City, Minnesota, New England, Detroit, Baltimore, San Francisco, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Los Angeles Rams, Tampa Bay and Indianapolis.

Waltz — Jacksonville, Buffalo, Cleveland, Tennessee, Kansas City, New York Giants, Cincinnati, Detroit, Baltimore, San Francisco, Dallas, Las Vegas, Miami, Denver, Tampa Bay and Los Angeles Chargers.

Mark Haskell — Jacksonville, Buffalo, Cleveland, Tennessee, Kansas City, Minnesota, Cincinnati, Detroit, Baltimore, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Miami, Denver, Tampa Bay and Los Angeles Chargers.

Leonard — Jacksonville, Buffalo, Cleveland, Tennessee, Kansas City, Minnesota, Cincinnati, Detroit, Baltimore, San Francisco, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Miami, Los Angeles Rams, Tampa Bay and Los Angeles Chargers.

LaBree — Jacksonville, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Kansas City, Detroit, Minnesota, Tennessee, Cleveland, Baltimore, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Miami, Denver, Tampa Bay and Los Angeles Chargers.

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