Another NFL football season has passed and Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have another ring. Blah. Blah. Blah. 

The real intrigue this season was played out on The Lakeland Times Football Predication Board where, for only the second time ever, the Mystic won it all and proved to have the clearest crystal ball.

Brian Lenz, of Lenz Truck Center, was the mystery man, unknown to his competitors for the entire season, who went 170-95 to take the title as the most accurate predictor of the NFL games on the Board.

“Coming into the season nobody gave the Mystic much of a chance,” Lenz said. “I believed in my ability, and just let my predictions do the talking every week. I stayed focused every week, ate my vitamins, got plenty of sleep, and just tried to take it one week at a time.”

In a thrilling finish, Lenz had to choose the Super Bowl correct in order to avoid a tie with last year’s champion Leanna Schlecht, director of marketing at the Lake of the Torches Resort and Casino. Schlecht was 170-96 and chose the Rams.

“My competition was more competitive this year, which made for some tough picks at times,” Schlecht said. “The championship games were tough losses that both went into overtime. I was hoping to claim first prize that weekend, but unfortunately lost both.  Brian came from behind and had great picks.”

Participants in the weekly prediction contest paid a $50 entry fee. The winner won $500 to be donated to the charity of their choice.

Lenz will be donating his winnings to the Lakeland STAR School/Academy.

Even though Schlecht came in second, Lake of the Torches Resort and Casino is still going to donate $500 to the Lac du Flambeau Salvation Army.

Over the course of the season the competition got heated for some of the rest of the participants, to the point where it got personal. 

Frank Bauers, chairman of the Town of Arbor Vitae, was 100 percent invested in defeating a certain news director at The Lakeland Times.

“I didn’t care if I won or lost, just as long as I beat (Brian) Jopek,” Bauers said.

He won’t be able to claim victory as the two tied 165-102.

In response to Bauers, Jopek took the high road.

“I do believe that’s the best I’ve done. Tied for fourth place,” he said. “And I really couldn’t think of a better person in that competition to be tied with than Frank Bauers. Every time I go to a town board meeting he’s wearing something that’s Green Bay Packers and with me being a Bears fan, it was a little disappointing to end up tied with Frank, but overall the whole thing is done for a good cause anyway, so that’s the important thing.”

Beth Wetzler, executive director at the Mercer Area Chamber of Commerce, led early and was counting on her Las Vegas roots to get her though the season.

“My husband and I moved here from Las Vegas in 2010 and the Vegas spirits helped me out in the beginning, but I guess I was too far away for too long for them to keep me on top through the end,” Wetzler said.    

Wetzler finished  third at 168-99.

Erin Biertzer, of the Howard Young Foundation, used a variety of predication methods and was just happy to have one fantastic week.

“I tried different methods, online, family and friends, and flat out guessing. I learned none are any better than the other,” said Biertzer, who finished 159-107. “My proudest moment was one 14-0 week. I experienced highs and lows, but realized I’m really competitive and am thrilled I didn’t finish last.”

That honor went to Jerry Bybee of Nicolet Bank. Bybee went 147-119 to take last place. 

“Being my rookie year on the board, I gained a new perspective and appreciation on what it takes to predict NFL games. My rudimentary football skills and lack of attention to the details of the season sunk my ship,” said Bybee, who saw his season with rose colored glasses. “On the bright side, I am pretty darn happy with my success, as long as I don’t compare it to my peers on the Board. The support I received from the other, past Board members during the season, who also rode the lame donkey, inspired me to finish the race with my head held high.”

With the funds going to a worthy charity like the STAR Academy, no matter where they placed, everyone on The Lakeland Times NFL Prediction board was a winner.

Jacob Friede may be reached at jacob@lakelandtimes.com or sports@lakelandtimes.com