There are all manner of predictions about which NFL teams will meet at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Feb. 2 for Super Bowl XLVIII and which team will leave the field hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
But online travel agency Expedia suggests that spikes in Super Bowl weekend travel searches offer a good indication of which teams fans believe will actually end up in the championship game.
"For the eight remaining teams in the playoffs, demand for flights into New York is the strongest out of Seattle, followed by San Francisco, Raleigh-Durham and Denver," said Jeremy Boore, travel analyst for Expedia.com.
Fans of the Seattle Seahawks, one of the possibilities for this year's Super Bowl.Getty Images
Though Super Bowl favorites the Denver Broncos "had a slight hiccup" in week 15 of the season after losing to the San Diego Chargers, searches for flights into New York from that area have grown "at about the same rate as their probability of playing in the big game," Boore said.
The probabilities, from Massey-Peabody Analytics, are determined by teams' Massey-Peabody ranking and home-field advantage, as well as by chance.
The Bronco's favored opponent, the Seattle Seahawks, "had a similar hiccup" in week 16 after losing to the Arizona Cardinals. However, Boore said, they not only remain the odds-on favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl "but have the highest volume of searches for flights into the NYC area for each of the past eight weeks of the season."
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And though the San Francisco 49ers have just a 5 percent probability of making another appearance in the final game, according to Massey-Peabody analysis, on Expedia the team has the second-most searches for flights into NYC over Super Bowl weekend. That correlates with many pundits' laying odds that the 49ers will win the game.
Of course, any fan planning to be at the Super Bowl in person will soon have to stop searching for fares and actually buy a plane ticket and a game ticket, and find a place to stay.
Travelocity reports that for Jan. 31 to Feb. 3, round-trip airfares below $385 are currently available between New York-New Jersey area airports and most all Super Bowl-hopeful cities.
On Jan. 6, fares could be found from Denver for $266, New Orleans for $216, Charlotte for $299, San Diego for $379, Boston for $199, Seattle for $385, San Francisco for $318 and from Indianapolis for $358.
It's no surprise that hotel rates for Super Bowl weekend are extremely high in the areas around the stadium, and are up appreciably in New York City compared with the same weekend in 2013 and to other weekends in February 2014.
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In New York, "expect to pay an average of $300 per night with restrictions and minimum stay requirements," said Courtney Scott, Travelocity's senior editor. "Although cheaper rates may be found by booking a flight and hotel vacation, or by searching hotels across Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the New Jersey metro area."