It was a ritual. Newburyport residents Cindy and Jim Brown would watch New England Patriots games on Sundays.

Of course, the Patriots would usually win and the Browns would be happy before Cindy would go about her day while her husband Jim would hang around for a little more football.

She basically realized he was having some extra fun and she wanted a little, too.

Jim was playing the “I Beat Burt” Contest, which he picked up a few years earlier working at an assisted living facility in Amesbury.

“Bill Albert, a friend at the facility was a long-time Beat Burt participant ... and winner. He got me started,” recalled Jim. “Now, it’s nice to share the contest with Cindy. It adds a little spice to the NFL season.”

Cindy basically became an NFL junkee.

“The competition is a lot of fun,” said Cindy, a three-sport athlete at Amesbury High, where she met her future husband. “I’ve always been a sports fan and the contest gets me interested in all the teams, whereas before I was just following the Patriots.

“For me,” she added, “it’s become the most exciting sport to watch. There’s a lot going on, on both sides of the ball.

The Browns hit the rare jackpot two weekends ago, with both Jim and Cindy winning an “I Beat Burt” T-shirt in Week 8.

The best part is they each had different picks.

“We make our own picks separately (on-line) then Jim immediately scopes out which picks we have in common and which are different,” said Cindy. “Then we root for each other. It’s like having two chances to win. The fact that we both won was great.”

They separately go through past results, injuries and when it’s close, both admit they go with their gut.

While they don’t watch all of the games on TV, they do track the picks throughout Sunday.

“It’s made Sundays in the fall pretty exciting for both of us, especially if one of us wins,” said Jim.

Both rarely pick against the Patriots and each says Mac Jones has their hopes a little higher than expected before the season.

“We both love winning,” said Jim, “especially a T-shirt. It makes our weekend.”

Only 10 beat Burt

In a crazy year with some crazy, difficult weeks, Week 9 takes the cake.

I had eight wins out of 13 games.

And guess what? I was a star.

Only 10 entries picked more than eight games.

Why? Underdogs won seven games and road teams won six games.

There were a lot of tough games, But when three teams that underdogs by seven points or more, win ... all hell has broken loose.

It’s that kind of year in the NFL where every teams is beatable.

Each week a maximum of 10 T-shirts are awarded with tiebreakers needed — Patriots point total and then amount of correct selections.

Not this week. All of the entries that picked more winners won T-shirts.

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