This NFL season has been a veritable roller-coaster of close calls, and flat out disappointments that have surprised fans and the media alike. As the regular 2010-11 season is winding down, we thought it fitting to take a look at those teams that were poised for greatness, and truly letdown their fans through the weeks.
The Bengals entered the season at their peak, playoff material for the past two seasons and signing Terrell Owens to join Chad Ochocinco for a solid offense. Despite a 10-6 standing last season, the Bengals were never really as good as their record depicted, the offense averaging 19 points per game, the lowest of all 2009 playoff teams, and a defense that allowed 18 points per game. This season, the team has played strong, but overall has underperformed in every way. Terrell Owens has proved he can show up to the job, far outperforming his last season with the Bills, but analysts lay the real blame on Carson Palmer who has averaged 250 yards a game with a decent 20 TDs and a whopping 15 interceptions, A 2-10 record almost guarantees a shake up during the off season.
With a terrible record, comes dismal ticket sales, with the Bengals dropping to #28 in our NFL Ticket Prices & Rankings. The average ticket price for the entire season is at $68, with their final home games against the Cleveland Browns and San Diego Chargers averaging around $95 each.
There's no question that Dallas has landed on tough times, and could easily be the biggest letdown of the season. It's not easy when the NFL's most touted brand suffers so many atrocities; Tony Romo driven to the ground in Week 7 by New York Giant Michael Boley, suffering a broken clavicle and relieving him from play for the rest of the season. Only a few weeks later, Jerry Jones delivered a swift boot to Wade Phillips, sending the couch packing, and leaving offensive coordinator Jason Garrett in charge. After straight losses, the Cowboys wowed the league with an elegant takedown of the Giants in New York, followed by a win over the Detroit Lions, a loss to the New Orleans Saints, and another win against the Indianapolis Colts. This mini comeback might have been well received, if only Cowboys fans weren't already so letdown.
Cowboys average ticket prices have dropped significantly through the season, but as Dallas fans are some of the most devoted in the league, the team has held steady at #11 in our rankings at $160.
In 2009, the Vikings might not have made it to the Super Bowl, but they showed an impressive strength throughout the season, ending it only points away from defeating the Saints. Critics might have scoffed at Brett Favre's return, but fans were excited. When the season began, the aged quarterback seemed on top of his game, hitting his 500th touchdown and 70,000 yards, against the Jets in October. Rumors of Randy Moss leaving the Patriots came true, and soon #84 was back home again, But Moss wasn't able to drive the team, in four games, only winning one and departing soon after. A loss to divisional rivals the Chicago Bears, as well as an explosive 31-3 blowout from the Packers sent the team spiraling into a terrible place. Soon after Brad Childress was let go, making waves throughout the NFL and Minnesota fan community. The team faces the Giants this week and a rematch with the Bears again next week at home, but with Favre injured, a shot at the playoffs looks somewhat bleak for the Vikings.
Vikings fans kicked off the season optimistic, with ticket prices rising well over $150 on average. Unfortunately, the team stands on shaky ground after a multitude of rough losses, fueled by the quick departure of Moss, Childress and Favre's reluctance to retire. The Vikings have since dropped close to rock bottom in our standings, ranked at #26 with an average ticket price across the season of $69.
How can these once successful NFL franchises come back in the 2011-12 season? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @SeatGeek.