If you thought Week 16 of the NFL regular season was sore with playoff implications, then you're in for a doozy in Week 17. Fewer teams can actually qualify for post-season play this week, but ticket prices are jacked up and a slew of division rivalries play a helping hand in deciding some major playoff spots and seeding.
The regular season is capped with a magnificent finale between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins, which will decide the playoff fate of both teams, and possibly more beyond them. For that matchup and more, let's breakdown the top-five priced NFL games for the final week of the 2012 regular season:
1.Cowboys @ Redskins | Avg: $798 | Get-in: $249 | Weekly Trend: +41%
The most expensive ticket of the week should be no surprise. Dallas and Washington are the 2012 NFL regular season capper on Sunday night, and they both will enter this brutal division matchup with a shot at the playoffs. If Dallas manages to enter Washington and escape the victor, they'll claim the NFC East title and a playoff spot, while a loss would send them to 8-8 and keep them from getting back into the playoffs. The Redskins would also claim the division title with a win, but unlike Dallas, should the earlier games go their way, could still have a shot at the playoffs even with a loss and a 9-7 record.
This one clearly carries a ton of weight as the two teams are heated division rivals with a rich history, but once you add Tony Romo vs. RG3 part deux and the playoffs to the mix, things get flat-out crazy. Washington waltzed into Dallas on Thanksgiving Day and ended up taking the first meeting, 38-31, so you can bet the Cowboys will be out for blood in this one. This game is an insane 300% above average price of Redskins tickets in 2012, and there's a pretty good chance this one lives up to the value and hype.
Coming in at number two is another bitter division rivalry. This one isn't nearly as dramatic, but Green Bay is still fighting for a first round playoff bye, while the Vikings simply need a win and they're in the playoffs. Tickets for this one will cost fans an average of $572/seat, the most expensive game in Minnesota this season, and a whopping 358% above the average price for Vikings tickets.
Add in Adrian Peterson's chase for Eric Dickerson's single season rushing yardage record (2,105 yards), and this is one of the more exciting and hyped up NFL games of Week 17. Peterson is still 208 yards away from the record, but even if he doesn't sniff it, it will still be interesting to see if Minnesota can deny the Packers their 12th win at home.
The entire season is riding on this game for the Vikes, which is easily evidenced by the jump in their ticket price this week. In fact, this one comes in a whopping $447 more than their average home ticket. Minnesota fans will be definitely be rowdy for this one, as there is plenty to cheer for late in the season for the first time in a couple of years.
Division rivalries are 4-for-4 in our top-five list for Week 17, and I'll spoil the fun and let you know that the next one is a division rivalry, too. St. Louis isn't in the NFC playoff picture anymore, but the Seahawks have already locked down a spot, while the NFC West still hasn't been decided. The Rams are playing spoiler and for pride at this point, while Seattle could claim the division crown with a win and a 49ers loss in Week 17. Surprisingly, after dropping 16 percent this week, tickets are currently averaging $300 ($110 low), 23% below the average price of Seahawks tickets.
Seattle has looked scarier and scarier in recent weeks, and regardless of what they do here, they could prove to be a nightmare matchup in the NFC playoffs. However, how they fare against Sam Bradford and the Rams could be the difference between a week off via a first round bye, or trying to run the table starting out of the wild card round.
Russell Wilson and co. have systematically developed into a well-oiled machine on both sides of the ball, and have the "12th man" in Seattle seriously believing this is a legit Super Bowl contender. Needless to say, it shouldn't be much of a shock that the Seahawks' week 17 finale comes in as Seattle's second most expensive home game of the year, while coming in as the Rams' most expensive road contest.
Seattle is the only team here playing for much of anything, but you know Jeff Fisher's Rams are going to keep playing hard and would rather end the year above .500 the below it. Look for another hard-fought game as the Seahawks do all they can to capture their division title.
Game three in our week 17 top-five list boasts the return of Michael Vick and a Giants team that is in full-blown collapse mode. While the Eagles are out of the NFC playoffs and New York needs a world of things to go their way to get in, this one still begs fans of both teams to sit on the edge of their seat and pay close attention. Currently, tickets for this one are averaging $278/seat, which is 13 percent below the average price for Giants tickets in 2012. Fans hoping for a Giant miracle can get in to Metlife for as low as $124.
Once a pariah in Philly, Vick suddenly returns under center due to an injury to rookie quarterback Nick Foles, while despite the long odds, the Giants do still have a chance at backing into the NFC playoffs. Those two facts alone are enough to add juice to this one, but you may be surprised to know that this is actually just New York's fourth most expensive home game of the season, while it is Philly's third most expensive.
It makes some sense for New York, as it is still a big game, but the difficulty of making the playoffs even with a win could put a damper on the value. After all, even with a win, the Giants still need the Cowboys, Vikings and Bears (all teams that still have a shot at the playoffs), to lose.
The beauty of this matchup is that it could be one of sweet redemption. We could see a once scorned Vick make a triumphant return and send the Giants packing, or have Eli Manning and Big Blue emerge from a small collapse and greet an NFL miracle en route to a wild card spot.
Whatever ends up happening on this mighty NFL weekend, we're sure to see some dramatic endings as some teams earn a chance to extend their seasons, and others watch as their seasons come to an early end.
In a bit of a surprise, the Patriots and Dolphins come in as our fifth most expensive NFL game of Week 17 at $278/seat, 14 percent higher than the season average price for Patriots tickets this year. The division rivalry aspect continues on here, but this one certainly doesn't carry the luster of the first two. Miami is out of the playoff race at 7-8, but a win here could be a major momentum boost heading into next season, and would have the Dolphins end at a respectable 8-8. The Patriots, on the other hand, are still fighting to hold onto a first round playoff bye, while they actually still have a shot at the number one overall seed.
Tom Brady and his Pats almost always are playing deep into the NFL season, but with playoff seeding on the line, even their regular season games can carry major weight late in the year, too. This rivalry has intensified over the past couple of years, but the ticket value comes in New England's prowess and ability to snag the number one overall seed. If they get the job done here and the Houston Texans and Denver Broncos both somehow cave in their season finales, New England would reign supreme in the AFC to start the post-season.