NFC West clash between 49ers and Seahawks is Week 16's hot ticket

Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE

Sunday's Seahawks game is nearly $100 more expensive than the next-most expensive ticket this week, according to TiqIQ.

It's been a crazy NFL season. The Cardinals started 4-0 and then dropped their next nine. The Eagles started 3-1 and now Andy Reid is likely headed out of Philly. Teams like the Broncos and Patriots got off to shaky starts, and now, along with Houston, are the class of the AFC.

Week 16 only adds to the chaos, as there are several key match-ups that have huge divisional and playoff implications. It only makes sense that a slew of those match-ups end up in our top-five priced games of the week. Let's take a closer look at them as we prepare for Week 16 in the NFL:

1. 49ers @ Seahawks | Avg: $457 | Get-in: $197 | Weekly Trend: -4%

It's no surprise the 49ers and Seahawks lead the way this week, but it's a little shocking just how far the gap is. Still, it all makes sense, as this match-up boasts two electrifying quarterbacks with big arms that can also burn the defense with their legs, while it also showcases two elite defensive units.

With all the hype surrounding this one, ticket prices have ballooned over 250% more than their previous meeting this year, and come in as each team's priciest road/home ticket of the year. At $457/seat, the price tag is also 38% above the average price of Seahawks tickets this year.

Colin Kaepernick may find life to be a bit easier if both of Seattle's top corners (Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner) are out with suspension, but either way this one could have more offense than last time, when the 49ers barely won, 13-6. Offense or not, this one figures to live up to the hype as these two go head-to-head in a race for the NFC West division crown.

2. Vikings @ Texans | Avg: $348 | Get-in: $162 | Weekly Trend: -6%

The Texans have locked up their division and a playoff spot, but they still carry a ton of weight at home, as their fans will pay to see the second-most expensive Texans' home game of the year. Perhaps Adrian Peterson chasing Eric Dickerson's single-season record for rushing yards has something to do with that, too, as this also comes in as Minnesota's most expensive road contest of the year.

Peterson and the Vikes have more than just a record in their sights however, as they stand at 8-6 and can still find themselves in the NFC playoffs if they can just keep winning. It won't be easy on the road against a vaunted Houston defense, but the closer Peterson can get to the rushing record, the more competitive the Vikings are likely to be. Look for a hard-fought game and a close finish in Houston on Sunday.

Ticket prices are down 6% this week, bringing the average price down to $348/ticket, which is 11% above the average price of Texans tickets this year.

3. Saints @ Cowboys | Avg: $342 | Get-in: $96 | Weekly Trend: -14%

New Orleans is out of the playoff race, but Drew Brees and Co. bring their potent offense into Dallas for an elite showdown, in an effort to rob the Cowboys of a playoff trip of their own. Tony Romo and the Cowboys are red-hot with three-straight wins and victors of five in their last six, but will undoubtedly have their hands full with a Saints team that is fresh off of a dominant win over the Buccaneers in week 15.

Not surprisingly, the playoff implications and superstar hype in this one have tickets averaging $342 despite the 14% drop in price. That makes this the most expensive road game for the Saints on the year, and the second-most expensive home game for the Cowboys; It's also 21% above the average price of Cowboys tickets in 2012.

The defense of the Cowboys will look to slow down the Saints just like they've slowed down the Steelers and Browns the past two weeks, while Dallas will likely be seeking more elite production out of injured wide receiver Dez Bryant. If the Cowboys can get past the Saints, they could potentially set themselves up for a Week 17 battle with Washington to decide the NFC East.

4. Bengals @ Steelers | Avg: $299 | Get-in: $102 | Weekly Trend: -6%

Cincinnati is still fighting for the AFC North crown, while a loss would give Pittsburgh a 2-0 sweep of the season series and likely end a run at the playoffs. A loss would also cripple the Steelers, as it would send them to 7-8 and would likely end their playoff chances, as well.

This one clearly favors Pittsburgh, as second-year quarterback Andy Dalton has struggled immensely against the Steelers in three career games, and Ben Roethlisberger and his crew get to go to war in their own backyard. Pittsburgh home games this late in the year are rarely cheap, so it's no shock that this one comes in as the third-most expensive Steelers' home game of the year, while actually coming in as Cincy's most expensive road game. At $299/seat, prices are also 24% above the average price of Steelers tickets.

These two are division rivals and know each other extremely well, so match-up breakdowns can likely be tossed to the side. This one will come down to brute defense, execution, and who simply wants it more.

5. Giants @ Ravens | Avg: $287 | Get-in: $137 | Weekly Trend: -26%

While the Cowboys have ideas of winning the NFC East with wins in the final two weeks of the year, the defending champs (New York) simply have to win out even for a shot at earning a wild card spot in the playoffs. It won't be an easy task to get the roll started in week 16, as Eli Manning and company have to travel to face an equally desperate Baltimore squad.

Playoff implications once again control the ticket price here, as this game ranks as the third-most expensive road/home game of the year for either team. At $287/seat, this one is also 25% above the average price of Ravens tickets this year.

There have been complaints that the Ravens haven't gotten Ray Rice involved enough in the offense. Many believe that if they do, the offense will be more balanced and everything will be fixed. On the flip-side, the Giants are coming off a game where they were dominated (and shutout), and they could sorely miss running back Ahmad Bradshaw should he miss a second-straight game. Regardless of who suits up, both teams will have to be on their A games if they want to steal a win this week and keep their division and playoff hopes alive.

It's only natural that the games get more intense and important as the season wears on, but NFL fans are really in for a treat this week with several crucial showdowns. Our top-five priced games are just the beginning in a week slammed with playoff implications.

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