As any fantasy owner call tell you, the 2011 NFL season has been particularly brutal as far as injuries go. I don't know whether it was the lockout or just the universe lashing out, but this season is stressing the value of depth like none other. So which team has been hit the hardest? You can measure wins and losses, but we wanted to take a deeper look into how ticket demand was affected by significant injuries.
We can go ahead and crown the Indianapolis Colts right off the bat after likely losing Peyton Manning for the season, but we wanted to look at how demand changed for teams due a significant, mid-season injury. Manning's neck injury has sunk Colts ticket prices to an average ticket price of $51, good for 3rd lowest in the league. Of the few injures we chose to focus on, here's how the data shook out:
5. Philadelphia Eagles - QB Mike Vick
To say expectations were high for quarterback Michael Vick and the rest of the Philadelphia Eagles would be a bit of an understatement. After Philly won the Nnamdi Asomugha free agency sweepstakes in the off-season, Vick and Co. were expected to win it all. Someone forgot to tell Andy Reid. The Eagles opened the season an embarrassing 1-4, dropping four straight after topping the St. Louis Rams win Week 1. Things took another tragic turn when Vick suffered two broken ribs on a QB sneak against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 10. The Eagles went on to collapse in the fourth quarter, losing the game by a score of 21-17. At the time of Vick's injury, the average price of a Eagles home game ticket was $183.34. After the injury that number dropped 7.8% to $168.93.
4. Minnesota Vikings - RB Adrian Peterson
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson hasn't had the season many fans had hoped for after signing a contract making him the highest paid rusher in football. The 2-7 Vikings were struggling with Peterson, so when the star back went down with a high ankle sprain in Week 11 against the Oakland Raiders things got even worse. Peterson was carted off the field early during the second quarter and never returned. The Vikings went on to lose to the Raiders by a score of 27-21. At the time of Peterson's injury, the average price of a Vikings home game ticket was $98.64. After the injury that number dropped 13.8% to $84.79.
3. Houston Texans - QB Matt Schaub
Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub had taken his team to a 7-3 record before breaking his foot on a QB sneak in a Week 10 matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Texans went on to win big by a score of 37-9 and have yet to drop a game without Schaub. Still, demand has dropped significantly for Texans home games. At the time of Schaub's injury, the average price of a Texans home game ticket was $151.98. After the injury that number dropped 20.9% to $130.99.
2. Chicago Bears - QB Jay Cutler
Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler had led his team to a 7-5 record before breaking his thumb in the fourth quarter of Week 11's matchup with the San Diego Chargers. After throwing an interception, Cutler was attempting to make the tackle on Chargers defensive back Antoine Cason but was pushed hard into the turf for the effort. The Bears held on to beat the Chargers by a score or 31-20, but ticket prices quickly began to drop. At the time of Cutler's injury, the average price of a Bears home game ticket was $249.43. After the injury that number dropped 24.5% to $188.22.
1. Buffalo Bills - RB Fred Jackson
Buffalo Bills half back Fred Jackson was leading the NFL in rushing until he went down in the third quarter of Week 11's meeting with the Miami Dolphins. Jackson finished the day with just 17 rushing yards, one more than quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Bills went on to lose to Miami by a score of 35-8. At the time of Jackson's injury, the average price of a Bills home game ticket was $81.60. After the injury that number dropped 29.7% to $57.30. We're not talking huge differences in price, but the percentage change is pretty impressive. It's surprising to see demand shifts for playoff-bound teams like the Bears and Texans, but one would think Bills fans would do their best to maintain attendance numbers at Ralph Wilson Stadium with blackouts looming for their remaining home games.