This story was updated at 8:22 a.m. EST on Friday, January 13, 2012, to reflect the correct date for the Giants-Packers game.
So far, the playoff version of Tebowmania is even more spectacular than the regular season variety.
Fresh off a January 8 Wild Card victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers (29-23), Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos continue their improbable ride January 14 in Foxborough, MA. There the team faces off against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in a Divisional round game.
The Broncos quarterback last weekend capped the best game of his brief NFL career by connecting for the winning 80-yard touchdown pass just 11 seconds into overtime, That eleventh hour play has fueled more excitement, ticket demand and high prices for Tebow’s rematch with two-time Super Bowl MVP Brady and the Pats. The Patriots are the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
Ticket search site TiqIQ.com’s stats showed that “get-in” prices for Broncos-Pats at Gillette Stadium jumped from $125 before Denver’s victory on Sunday to $191 in the 24 hours following the game. The teams’ December 18 regular season meeting in Denver, won by New England 41-23, was one of the most sought-after tickets of the season on the secondary market.
There are three other Divisional games this weekend. Below is a look at each (all times are EST):
New Orleans Saints (14-3) at San Francisco 49ers (13-3), January 14, 4:30 p.m.
San Francisco, under first-year coach Jim Harbaugh, rode its opportunistic defense to the NFC West title and a return to the playoffs after a 10-year absence.
The team faces a tough task in stopping a potent Saints offense led by record-setting quarterback Drew Brees, who set NFL marks for passing yards (5,476), completions (468), and completion percentage (71.2).
Brees passed for 466 yards in the Saints’ 45-28 Wild Card-round victory over the Detroit Lions last week in New Orleans. All three of the Saints’ regular season losses came on the road.
A Saints-49ers ticket had an average resale price of $352 on search site FanSnap.com as of 3 p.m. today, January 12. Early in the week, there were twice as many tickets available than for the weekend’s other playoff games, according to StubHub.com spokesperson Joellen Ferrer, who said prices on the site were starting near $200.
New York Giants (10-7) at Green Bay Packers (15-1), January 15, 4:30 p.m.
On their way to a Super Bowl title four years ago, the Giants ended the Packers‘ playoff run in the NFC Championship Game at Lambeau. This time, they’ll try to do it again and derail the league’s likely MVP Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Despite setting a franchise record for victories and opening the playoffs with their seventh postseason meeting against New York, Green Bay-area brokers aren’t seeing a big price boost as the Pack continues its quest to repeat as Super Bowl champs.
“I see it equal to past playoff games, and I think the struggling economy might be a factor there,” Mike Holzberger, owner of Connections Ticket Agency in Milwaukee, told TicketNews. “That negative crosses out the Packers’ popularity.”
FanSnap had the average resale price for Giants-Packers at $316 at mid-week, but it dropped to $279 as of 3 p.m. today.
“I think getting the Giants keeps the game strong,” said Jim Bryce, Jr., a partner at Ticket King in Green Bay, to TicketNews. “But it’s pretty much the same as other years.”
Holzberger said an influx of Giants fans and a decent weather forecast — partly cloudy with a low of 16 — could account for rising prices earlier in the week. “Prices are starting around $150 to $200,” he said. “We’ve seen it go up a little bit starting this week.”
Denver Broncos (9-8) at New England Patriots (13-3), January 14, 8 p.m.
The legend of Tebow only continues to grow. The Broncos’ second-year quarterback, who has drawn as much attention for his religious devotion as he has for his football skills, takes his biggest stage in a primetime meeting with three-time Super Bowl winners Brady and coach Bill Belichick.
Tebow’s 80-yard OT hookup with Demaryius Thomas stunned the Steelers and put an exclamation mark on the quarterback’s most consistent game as a pro (10-for-21, passing for a career-high 316 yards). That temporarily silenced critics of his throwing ability and topped the mid-season magic he showed in leading a series of fourth-quarter comebacks.
A suspect Patriots defense ranked next-to-last in the NFL, and the aura of Tebow, gives Bronco backers hope here. And his impact on the ticket market? “It was running at about $140, now it’s up to $180 just to get in the door,” Jim Holzman, owner of Ace Ticket in Boston, told Ticket News.
FanSnap’s average ticket price had risen from $330 to $346 as of January 10, but has settled in at $287 this afternoon. At StubHub, Ferrer said the Broncos-Pats match-up has drawn twice as many searches as the other playoff games.
“I preferred the Steelers actually, but the amount of interest is way more than I thought it would get,” Holzman said. “People are excited to see Tebow or excited to see him get beat pretty badly.”
Regarding the Tebow phenomenon, Holzman added, “I’m not sure what to make of it, whether it’s people rooting for him or against him. It’s all good, right? Anything that brings attention to it. ”
Houston Texans (11-6) at Baltimore Ravens (12-4), January 15, 1 p.m.
Houston made an impressive playoff debut last week with a 31-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. This weekend’s match-up might have the lowest profile of the four, but the game at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore had FanSnap’s second-highest average resale price at $385 earlier this week. The average price had settled in at $308 as of 3 p.m. today, and “get-in” prices were close to $200.
The Ravens won the regular season meeting, 29-14 on October 16 in Baltimore.
“In general, market prices are related to how long it has been since the home team was last in the Super Bowl,” FanSnap general manager Mike Janes told TicketNews. “The Ravens won in 2001 and the 49ers last won in 1995, which is reflected in their hotter ticket prices.”