With the NFL entering the final three weeks of the regular season, a total of four teams have now clinched their spots in the postseason. The Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers had their spots wrapped prior to last week, but the New Orleans Saints and Houston Texans were able to clinch their spots with tight victories last Sunday. This week could see a lot more of the playoff spots taken with the Patriots, Steelers and Ravens all in position to clinch with wins in Week 15.
The top match-up in our power rankings pits two of the top defenses in the NFL against each other. The 49ers have by far the league's best rushing defense, having allowed 200 fewer yards on the ground than any other team while allowing no rushing touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Steelers are the best in the league against the pass, but they will be without LB James Harrison, who was suspended for his vicious hit on Browns QB Colt McCoy last week.
The Niners-Steelers game will be a good one, but this week is full of intriguing match-ups. Take a look at this week's games in our NFL Game Power Rankings for Week 15:
1. San Francisco 49ers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Average Ticket Price: $176.19
The 49ers have been ingrained as the second place team in the NFC since early in the season, but the Niners have lost two of their last three and are now tied with the Saints at 10-3. If they want that first-round bye in the playoffs, they will have to regain their swagger, which is no easy task against the talented Steelers.
2. New York Giants vs. Washington Redskins
Average Ticket Price: $163.94
The Giants were able to regain a tie for the lead in the NFC East last week after beating the Cowboys. Now they have to continue that momentum against the floundering Redskins, who beat the G-Men in Week 1.
3. Denver Broncos vs. New England Patriots
Average Ticket Price: $156.76
Can Tebowmania get any bigger? Every week, Tim Tebow leads the Broncos on another amazing fourth-quarter comeback and captures the attention of all NFL fans (including yours truly). This week's talking point in the media: Tim Tebow vs. Tom Brady. Strange, considering there really is no comparison between the two QBs. Tebow has started less than a full season of NFL games, while Brady has three Super Bowl rings and has won more playoff games than Tebow has regular season games. Yes, I'm a little bitter about the subject.
4. Chicago Bears vs. Seattle Seahawks
Average Ticket Price: $148.25
Without their starting quarterback and running back, the Bears have quickly fallen out of the playoff picture. They are not completely out of the running yet, but they will need a win against a hot Seahawks team that has won four of their last five games and are still very much in the hunt for a playoff spot themselves.
5. Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Jets
Average Ticket Price: $143.20
The Eagles actually looked like a competent team last week against the Dolphins, winning in Miami 26-10. Philly can still salvage the season if they can win the remainder of their games and go 8-8, which may be good enough to save head coach Andy Reid’s job.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Dallas Cowboys
Average Ticket Price: $117.60
Some teams just keep finding new ways to lose, and the Dallas Cowboys are definitely one of those teams. After icing their own kicker two weeks ago, the Cowboys blew a late 11-point lead last week against the Giants to lose 37-34, also missing a last-second field goal that would have tied the game.
7. Houston Texans vs. Carolina Panthers
Average Ticket Price: $108.72
Even without starting quarterback Matt Schaub, the Texans keep finding ways to pull out wins, including last week's come-from-behind victory on a TD pass with just seconds remaining. With that win, the Texans secured their spot in the postseason for the first time in franchise history.
8. San Diego Chargers vs. Baltimore Ravens
Average Ticket Price: $108.55
The Ravens are one of four teams in the AFC at 10-3 that are battling for a top-two seeds in the playoffs and a bye week. They should get some help this Sunday when LB Ray Lewis returns from a toe injury that has kept him out of the previous four games. Of course, maybe they don't need him; they are 4-0 in those games.
9. Kansas City Chiefs vs. Green Bay Packers
Average Ticket Price: $97.84
To say that the Packers beat the Raiders last week may be an understatement…they steamrolled them. The Pack won the game 46-16, even scoring the first 34 points of the game. Now at 13-0, Green Bay has an undefeated season in their sights with only Kansas City, Chicago and Detroit left on their schedule.
10. Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints
Average Ticket Price: $79.96
This season has been extremely disappointing for the Vikings, and it doesn't look like things will get any better this season. At 2-11, the team is tied for the second-worst record in the league and has now lost its last five games.
11. Oakland Raiders vs. Detroit Lions
Average Ticket Price: $75.45
If the Lions are able to win this weekend against the Raiders it will be the first winning season for the franchise since 2000. Detroit will get back DT Ndamukong Suh for this game now that he has finished his two-game suspension for stomping a Packers player on Thanksgiving.
12. Indianapolis Colts vs. Tennessee Titans
Average Ticket Price: $64.63
The good news for the Colts is that injured QB Peyton Manning has started throwing the ball for the first time since his neck injury. The bad news is that the team has yet to win a game and it doesn't look like they will be winning one the rest of the season.
13. Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins
Average Ticket Price: $58.97
When the Bills were 5-2 and the Dolphins were 0-7 going into Week 8, few would have predicted the turnaround that both teams have experienced. Since that point, the Bills are 0-6 while the 'Phins are 4-2 and could jump Buffalo in the AFC East standings with a win this Sunday.
14. Arizona Cardinals vs. Cleveland Browns
Average Ticket Price: $50.29
The Cardinals have a chance to win their fourth straight game this weekend against the struggling Browns. If Arizona can win the remaining games on their schedule, they still have a chance to sneak into the postseason with a record of 9-7.
15. Atlanta Falcons vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Average Ticket Price: $42.54
The Falcons still have an outside shot of catching the Saints in the NFC South, and that starts with a win against the Jaguars. Falcons QB Matt Ryan was able to throw for 320 yards and four touchdowns last week, and Falcons fans would love to see a repeat performance.
16. St. Louis Rams vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Average Ticket Price: $33.93
Things just keep getting worse for the Rams. Not only did they get blown out on Monday night against the Seahawks, they now have the privilege of facing three of the NFL's best defenses in the last three weeks of the season, starting with the upstart Bengals.
If you are looking for tickets to any of these games or any game the rest of the season, check out our NFL Ticket Page. Come back next Thursday for the Week 16 rankings!
Rankings are based on the average price of tickets sold on the TicketNetwork Exchange as of 12/14/2011 at 4 p.m. EST.