Eric Behnke of Timberline Inn said being the top prognosticator on The Lakeland Times Football Prediction Board for a second time was a challenge. “The 2012-13 football season was one where there is so much parity in the league, each week any team can truly beat any other,” the back-to-back winner said. He noted that 10 teams were sitting at .500 six games into the 2012 NFL season, including the Packers, and that 11 other teams were just one game removed from even-steven. “Almost half way through the season and 21 of the 32 teams were essentially tied with each other. This year we saw few standout teams and few teams that were really bad, with most of the league somewhere in the middle.” Behnke also noted that the Super Bowl teams, San Francisco and Baltimore, were No. 2 and No. 4 seeds. Neither of the top seeds, Atlanta and Denver, made it through the playoffs. “The parity is something I love about the NFL,” Behnke said. “Each year you can see a new team make their way into the playoffs and you know that your team is never too far away from having a great year.” For the same reasons, it’s frustrating making picks, he said. “Some weeks I would look at the results and be amazed that I did so well or so bad. Picking these games is becoming more luck and good fortune than it is skill.” Behnke said it seemed like there were four or five easy picks on any given week and for the rest he could “flip a coin.” He generally favored the home team in the hard-to-chose games. It was a labor of love in any case. “I love watching the Packers on Sundays, but I truly just love watching football,” Behnke said. “I like the fact that we had Thursday games to watch this year; just one more day I could look forward to seeing football.” Most Sundays he watched the NFL RedZone channel to keep up on the scoring drives of teams from across the league. “The other nice part about the RedZone channel is that I have begun to follow players more than just teams,” Behnke remarked. He enjoyed watching the various rookie quarterbacks: Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and, of course, former Badger Russell Wilson. “Particularly it was fun watching Wisconsin’s own Russell Wilson improve the Seattle Seahawks and take them deep into the playoffs,” Behnke said. He hasn’t forgotten the infamous “Fail Mary” play from week three, however, when a dubious officiating call went against his beloved Packers, taking away an interception and granting Wilson a touchdown pass. The mental miscue secured a tainted victory for the Seahawks. Behnke wishes Wilson would come out and admit that the play wasn’t a touchdown. But as the 2012-13 effort draws to a close, the gridiron soothsayer is eying the upcoming season, not the past one. He expects it to be close competition on the field and elsewhere. “As the NFL season is over I am already looking forward to the 2013-14 NFL season and I am sure next year’s prediction board will be another challenge and similar to the NFL – truly anyone could win,” he said. Behnke concluded this season by correctly picking the Ravens to win the Super Bowl, and finished with an overall record of 179-88 – four games better than the nearest competitor. Last year, he took the championship by posting a 185-82 record. “I look forward to the challenge of a three-peat, but I know that the competition will be tough and honestly anyone could win the prediction board,” Behnke said. And the winnings? “Just like last year I chose to donate my winnings to the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life Team Blue Bayou here in Manitowish Waters,” Behnke said. “All of us have someone in our lives that has been touched by cancer and know how horrible of a disease it is. For me it was my mom and she has been cancer-free for five years now.” Behnke is thankful. “Thank you to everyone for participating, thanks to The Lakeland Times for putting this on, and thank you for everyone’s donation to this great cause!” Craig Turk may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.