Just a few short months ago, 32 teams began their seasons with hopes of going to the playoffs and a chance at a Super Bowl. That quest for a Super Bowl championship is down to 12 teams, starting this weekend with four Wild Card playoff games.
This week's top game in the power rankings is the NFC match-up of the New Orleans Saints and Detroit Lions at the Louisiana Superdome. The game features two quarterbacks, Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford, who exceeded 5,000 passing yards this season, which has now only happened five times in NFL history (three of those five came in 2011 as Tom Brady also exceeded the mark). Combine that with the mediocre defense that both teams have and this should be a high-scoring affair. In fact, the odds makers have put the over/under at 59 points, the highest ever for a playoff game.
The winners of these games get the privilege of heading out on the road next week for the Divisional Playoffs against the four teams who had byes this week: the New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers. Here are our Wild Card Weekend NFL Game Power Rankings:
1. New Orleans Saints vs. Detroit Lions
Average Ticket Price: $258.14
These two teams faced each other just a few weeks ago, in a game that was won 31-17 by the Saints. The Lions didn't do themselves any favors that game, accumulating 11 penalties for 107 yards, including multiple personal fouls after plays were over. They also did not have Pro Bowl DT Ndamukong Suh, who was serving a two-game suspension. The Lions will have to cut down on all the mental mistakes if they want a chance to win, especially considering the Saints are the hottest team in the NFL right now.
2. New York Giants vs. Atlanta Falcons
Average Ticket Price: $213.93
The New York Giants finished 9-7, good enough to rank at the top of the worst division of the NFL. That doesn't matter anymore because they are one of the teams that many experts are picking to surprise everyone this postseason. They boast one of the best defensive lines in the NFL and should pressure Falcons QB Matt Ryan all game long. The game will hinge on which quarterback, Ryan or Giants QB Eli Manning, is able to put up better numbers. Both are notorious for being inconsistent, so it will be interesting to see how they play facing the playoff pressure.
3. Houston Texans vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Average Ticket Price: $211.90
The Texans were able to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, but they have not looked good over the past few weeks. They have lost their last three games against teams that finished a combined 17-31. Of course, the Bengals haven't been much better, losing three of their last five games including their Week 14 match-up with these same Texans. It will come down to which rookie quarterback, T.J. Yates or Andy Dalton, makes fewer mistakes for his team.
4. Denver Broncos vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Average Ticket Price: $196.96
TEBOW!! Sure, Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos have lost their last three games, looking bad in each one of them. But we are talking about Tim Tebow here! Now that everyone has started to talk down about him, you can just feel something big is coming for the young quarterback. That being said, the Steelers seem to find their way to the Super Bowl every season and they still have one of the best defenses in the NFL. The Broncos will have to hope all the injuries that the Steelers are dealing with come back to bite them.
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 Divisional Round rankings!
Rankings are based on the average price of tickets sold on the TicketNetwork Exchange as of 1/5/2012 at 3 p.m. EST.