Alex Carter has ritual. He buys the newspaper at his favorite store in Topsfield, Gil's Grocery on Main Street, and checks out the "I Beat Burt" contest entry blank by midweek and starts plotting the weekend.
Carter, who has been married to wife Carole for 61 years, is a retired veteran and spent 38 years as a test man for the phone company, most recently Verizon.
The former basketball player at then-Topsfield High, says fall in New England is a big deal for the Carter family, which also includes six grandchildren.
And a typical Sunday?
"I have breakfast with brother," said Carter, who won an "I Beat Burt" T-shirt in Week 2. "Then we do a little shopping in New Hampshire. I come home and usually rake some leaves. Then I watch football in the afternoon. I love it."
Carter jokes that his wife would mock him and his passion for pro football games, particularly the Patriots on Sundays.
"She would say, 'If you’re going to watch games, then I’m going to school!' " said Carter. "Well, now she's graduated college."
Carter enjoys reading about teams, hot players, injured players and how teams do home and away.
"It makes my weekends in the fall," he said. "I love reading about the games and then picking them."
Burt big rebound
While they don't have "rebounds" in football, it was a big rebound week for me.
After two sub-par weeks where I finished 7-7-1 both weeks, I came through with a 9-6 week. While that might not sound like anything special, in this new NFL, it was hard to beat.
Only seven of the 343 entries picked more winners than I did. Five had 10 wins and two had 11.
Normally, "nine" correct picks means 50 to 100 entries picking more. But not in this crazy NFL, where four of the seven teams that were favored by six or more points lost, including the Vikings, which were favored by 17 points.
Good luck picking games in Week 4. We're all going to need it.
Week 3 winners
Shaun Dunlevy of Methuen
Keith Shevlin of Salem, N.H.
Brian Karolow of Bradford
Ed Schroeder of Windham, N.H.
David Vieweg of Methuen
Liam Carter of North Andover
John Armano of North Andover