19th consecutive year

'Pigskin Pundits' tackle initial picks for NFL's first week of action

How do your selections match up with the 'experts'?
Sep 07, 2017

This is the first week of the 2017-18 National Football League regular season. Courier Publications/VillageSoup's "Pigskin Pundits" will match wits with a guest each week to pick the winner of the games.

The weekly pundits who will participate in the 19th consecutive year of the pro football selections will be Courier Publications/VillageSoup Owner Reade Brower, Sports Director Ken Waltz and Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell. The Week 1 guest is Kyle Durkee of Waldoboro.

The Week 1 schedule includes:

Thursday, Sept. 7

Kansas City at New England

Sunday, Sept. 10

N.Y. Jets at Buffalo

Atlanta at Chicago

Baltimore at Cincinnati

Pittsburgh at Cleveland

Arizona at Detroit

Jacksonville at Houston

Oakland at Tennessee

Philly at Washington

Indianapolis at Los Angeles Rams

Seattle at Green Bay

Carolina at San Francisco

N.Y. Giants at Dallas

Tampa Bay at Miami (moved to Week 11, Nov. 19, due to Hurricane Irma)

Monday, Sept. 11

New Orleans at Minnesota

Los Angeles Chargers at Denver

You picked who?

Durkee: Kansas City, Buffalo, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Houston, Oakland, Philadelphia, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle, Carolina, Dallas, New Orleans and Denver.

Haskell: New England, Buffalo, Atlanta, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Arizona, Houston, Oakland, Washington, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle, Carolina, N.Y. Giants, New Orleans and Los Angeles Charges.

Brower: New England, Buffalo, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Houston, Tennessee, Washington, Los Angeles Rams, Green Bay, Carolina, Dallas, Minnesota and Denver.

Waltz: New England, Buffalo, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Houston, Tennessee, Philadelphia, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle, Carolina, Dallas, Minnesota and Los Angeles Chargers.

Games are picked for “winners,” not on a point spread, but simply the final score.

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

Last year's results

Haskell finished 173-92-2 overall (.653 winning percentage), including 8-3 in the playoffs. Waltz finished 171-94-2 (.645), including 7-4 in the postseason. Brower finished 169-96-2 (.638), including a perfect 11-0 in the playoffs. Chris Donlin, at 13-3 in Week 17, was the guest who earned the right to participate in the playoffs, and he finished 8-3 in the postseason and helped guests finish 170-95-2 (.642).

Each prognostigator selected New England to beat Atlanta in the Super Bowl, and the Patriots rallied to prevail 34-28. Waltz predicted 38-28, Haskell 34-24, Brower 34-23 and Donlin 27-17.

During the regular season, Haskell finished with the best individual week at 15-1 in Week 15. In regular-season play, Haskell finished 165-89-2, Waltz 164-90-2 and Brower 158-96-2.

Moving online

Previously, the weely pro football picks appeared exclusively in the weekly print editions of The Courier Gazette, The Camden Herald and The Republican Journal.

The picks now will be available only on the organization’s websites — knox.villagesoup.com and waldo.villagesoup.com.

After regular season, the guest with the best weekly record will return to pick against Waltz, Haskell and Brower for the playoffs and Super Bowl. The guest with the best weekly record also will receive a year's subscription to any of Courier Publications' newspapers or one of the organization's websites.

The decision to shift the NFL picks from the newspapers to the websites was a difficult one for Waltz as they had been a mainstay of the Midcoast newspapers for nearly two decades.

"While it is unfortunate our pro football picks, which so many people enjoy, will be moved to our websites and out of the print products, people still will be able to find it each week online starting on Thursday mornings and compare their weekly picks with ours and cheer when we do well and snicker when we have a bad week," said Waltz.

One of the reasons for the switch was, due to the newspapers’ weekly Tuesday deadlines, Waltz, Haskell, Brower and the weekly guest had to make picks early in a given week, which made it slightly more difficult to predict games due to a myriad of potential reasons, such as player injuries and/or suspensions.

Courier Publications' sports staff can be reached by email at sports@villagesoup.com or by phone at 594-4401.

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