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Volume 24 No. 156
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NFL Praised For Final Week's Myriad Playoff Scenarios After Parity-Filled Season

The NFL, which "once writhed when teams that had clinched early coasted into the postseason now has the most eventful Week 17 in memory, with eight of the 12 playoff tickets claimed, and 10 teams elbowing for the remaining four," according to Sam Farmer of the L.A. TIMES. The Chiefs are the only team that currently knows its playoff seeding, and in the NFC, no team has won its division. Pro Football HOFer John Madden on Monday said, "It sure makes for great football. We don't have 14 games, then two games of blah, and then playoffs. That's what I used to hate about it. Instead of blasting into the playoffs, we'd limp into the playoffs." Two divisional matchups on Sunday will be "winner-take-all finales, with the victors earning a home playoff game and the losers shutting it down for the season" (L.A. TIMES, 12/24). wrote, "The playoff scenarios are but one part of the fun that remains in Week 17." From the "pursuit of records and statistical marks, to coaches' jobs on the line and the 'race' for the No. 1 draft pick, there will be something riding on the line in just about every game -- just the way the NFL likes it" (, 12/23).

A RARING RACE: In Miami, Greg Cote writes, "Few NFL regular seasons have ended with a more frantic finish than this one." It has been seven years "since this many fans league-wide have been allowed to carry hope into the last week, and, complainers be damned, it’s a wonderful advertisement for King Sport." Cote writes, "Two winner-take-all finales in Packers-Bears and Eagles-Cowboys -- I don’t care what the records are, that’s sports drama to the max." It is the "barely-over-.500 teams sneaking in last that give a postseason its Cinderella element, its needed balance." This is the NFL, "where being in the playoffs means you have a real chance, and where being in the playoffs needn’t always mean excellence, because there is room too for the pluggers, the fighters, the grinders and the lucky" (MIAMI HERALD, 12/27).

: NBC’s “Today” looked at ticket prices for this year’s Super Bowl, and host Willie Geist remarked, “If you want tickets, be prepared to dig deep, really, really deep.” NBC’s Ron Mott said, “Tickets are likely to fetch the cost of a decent used car or even a luxury vacation.” Mott noted tickets on the secondary market are already going for “far more” than the face value of the most expensive ticket -- approximately $2,600. Mott: “What’s driving prices up way past the nosebleed section into record territory? You guessed it, location, location, location -- New York City and Wall Street, a first for the big game.” Mott also said the NFL “does not sell directly to the general public,” and the league warns “buyer beware” if you do not go through the official online ticket exchange at Ticketmaster. Meanwhile, is selling Super Bowl packages beginning at $5,600 per person. President Robert Tuchman said, “It’s all speculation, it's hype, it's people saying, ‘Okay, this is New York City, look how many corporations are based here. The Super Bowl is a corporate event. Those companies are going to pay for tickets’” (“Today,” NBC, 12/27).