The NFL is back! After a prolonged lockout, everyone seems to be even more hyped to this season than for seasons past and that includes me.
Every week for the entire 2011 NFL season, I will be ranking every game on that week's schedule based on their sales on the TicketNetwork Exchange. Unlike other "Power Rankings" that you see across the internet that rank the teams based on their performance, these rankings will be based on ticket sales and the average price fans have paid to see the game.* That means the demand among FANS will be the deciding factor, not "experts" telling you which is the best.
Check back every Thursday for the latest TN Team Blog "NFL Game Power Rankings". Here is this week's rankings:
1. Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
Average Ticket Price: $270.54
Every season, these two AFC North rivals battle twice and every game seems to be a great one. This fact is not lost on fans in Baltimore, who have paid nearly 20% more than #2 game on our list. Those Ravens fans also hope for a better outcome than the teams last game in which the Steelers beat the Ravens 31-24 in last season's AFC Divisional Playoffs.
2. New Orleans Saints at Green Bay Packers
Average Ticket Price: $226.19
The Saints-Packers match-up is the opening game of the 2011 season, and it pits last year's Super Bowl champion vs. the previous season's champs. Packers fans will also get the chance to watch their team raise their Super Bowl banner to the rafters.
3. Atlanta Falcons at Chicago Bears
Average Ticket Price: $186.17
The Bears have some of the most rabid fans in the NFL, and after last season's disappointing playoff loss, they are ready to start fresh in 2011. The Falcons will be looking to build on last year's 13-3 record behind QB Matt Ryan.
4. Dallas Cowboys at New York Jets
Average Ticket Price: $176.84
America's Team vs. America's loudest team (thanks to Rex Ryan) in the Big Apple is definitely a recipe for a highly anticipated game. Add in the pre-game ceremonies to remember the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, and it should be an emotional night for both teams and their fans.
5. Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos
Average Ticket Price: $155.07
Through thick and thin, you can say one thing about fans in Denver: they are loyal to their Broncos. This is the first game you wouldn't expect to see in the Top 5, but maybe all the tickets are being sold to females who want to catch a glimpse of Tim Tebow, but probably not Kyle Orton.
6. Minnesota Vikings at San Diego Chargers
Average Ticket Price: $118.12
The San Diego Chargers are the hot pick around the league to win the Super Bowl this season and the Charger fans are hoping those people are right after under-achieving in the past few years.
7. New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
Average Ticket Price: $112.61
I would like to give Dolphins fans credit for this game being so high on the list, but even Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano thinks there is going to be a heavy influx of Pats fans at Sun Life Stadium on Monday night.
8. New York Giants at Washington Redskins
Average Ticket Price: $108.71
The NFC East is maybe the most competitive division in the NFL, and the winner of this game will have a leg up in the division. After dumping malcontents Albert Haynesworth and Donovan McNabb in the offseason, Redskins fans are ready for a better 2011.
9. Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
Average Ticket Price: $107.68
This game has lost some of its luster now that Peyton Manning is out, except for fantasy football owners who selected Texan's RB Arian Foster first in their draft (most notably, me). The Texans are hoping to make the postseason for the first time in franchise history, and it is important they get off to a good start.
10. Philadelphia Eagles at St. Louis Rams
Average Ticket Price: $97.43
Apparently Rams fans aren't that excited to see Michael Vick and the self-proclaimed "Dream Team" Eagles. They should, however, be excited to see their hometown team because the Rams could be significantly better if QB Sam Bradford is as improved as all the experts think he will be.
11. Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns
Average Ticket Price: $88.01
You can thank the Browns fans for this game being this high on the list, because on the field, this may be the worst match-up of the week.
12. Detroit Lions at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Average Ticket Price: $75.40
The Buccaneers were last season's surprise team, going from 3-13 in 2009 to 10-6 in 2010. The Lions are looking to be that team in 2011 behind defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh.
13. Carolina Panthers at Arizona Cardinals
Average Ticket Price: $58.15
This is the point where the average price falls off the board. Neither team is expected to do much this season, unless of course new Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb becomes the star the team hopes he will be.
14. Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers
Average Ticket Price: $52.41
Not surprisingly, the quarterback match-up of Tavaris Jackson and Alex Smith didn't stoke up interest of this game for Niners fans.
15. Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs
Average Ticket Price: $50.15
I would expect a Chiefs home game to be higher, but maybe they are saving their money for a more exciting game than against the lowly Bills.
16. Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars
Average Ticket Price: $47.06
The Jaguars are scrambling to sell enough tickets to this game to avoid falling victim to the NFL TV blackout rule, so it's no shock they are so low on our list.
Come back next Thursday for the Week 2 rankings!
* Avg. ticket price is based on sales on the TicketNetwork Exchange as of 9/8/2011 at 10 a.m. EST.