Health = wealth in the NFL

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Feb 16, 2008



No coach or player worth his salt in the NFL will blame injuries for anything that happens on the football field.
 
But injuries (and suspensions) are bound to take their toll on any team, especially with a finite amount of money to spend and a finite number of talented players available.
 
We went back through the 2007 season looking to see who was hit hardest by injuries in terms of missed games by key players. Sometimes a starter missed an entire 16 games, sometimes it was just a game or two, but the numbers varied wildly from a low of 13 key games lost to 69 games lost.
 
We included players as "key" that were either unquestioned starters or unique role players on their teams when they were injured. And an injured player who was replacing an injured player didn't count (no double-dipping at one spot.).
 
And we did use our judgment on some calls when two players were equals at one position (i.e. Matt Leinart injured with 1B Kurt Warner). We'll call that objective subjectivity, in that we're trying to simply determine who lost the most front-line guys. Feel free to comment or complain about our criteria.
 
However, the results were interesting, if only because they generally confirmed the impact of injury -- healthy teams were generally better than expected, unhealthy ones worse that expected.
 
Consider that the top 10 teams in terms of most key games lost include many of the league's most disappointing teams. (It's worth noting that terrible teams are more likely to put a veteran on the shelf late in the season, making this a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts, but the list still stands out).
1. Denver (7-9) 69 games lost
2. Indianapolis (13-3) 64 games lost
3. Miami (1-15) 60 games lost
4. Atlanta (4-12) 58 games lost
5. Baltimore (5-11) 57 games lost
6. Buffalo (7-9) 55 games lost
7. Cincinnati (7-9) 54 games lost
8. St. Louis (3-13) 54 games lost
9. Detroit (7-9) 53 games lost
10t. Chicago (7-9) 52 games lost
10t. Washington (9-7) 52 games lost
It's quite a tribute to Peyton Manning, Tony Dungy and the Colts that they'd be the team hit second-hardest by injury and still finish 13-3. All of this toughness didn't help them much in the postseason, but their regular season ranks as one of the most remarkable of the past decade.
 
Denver, Miami, Baltimore and St. Louis all finished 4-6 more games behind where they were projected, and clearly injuries played a part.
 
The list of least injured teams is also telling, with the top two teams on the list clearly ranking as 2007's biggest surprises: Cleveland and Green Bay.
 
The top 10:
1. Green Bay (13-3) 13 games lost
2. Cleveland (10-6) 14 games lost
3. Minnesota (8-8) 16 games lost
4. Oakland (4-12) 17 games lost
5. New York Giants (10-6) 18 games lost
6. Kansas City (4-12) 20 games lost
7. San Diego (11-5) 21 games lost
8. Tennessee (10-6) 23 games lost
9. New York Jets (3-13) 29 games lost
10. Carolina (7-9) 30 games lost
Green Bay was as healthy as a team can get – almost half of those 13 games lost came thanks to rest for banged-up starters in Week 17. It was a perfect storm for the Packers this year – maturing youngsters, veteran leaders, a favorable schedule and some incredible health. Of course, they ran into Eli Manning and the Giants, who spoiled more winters than the most powerful of blizzards.
 
The Browns were in the same boat, riding a last-place schedule, diminished AFC North field and fortune in the training room to a great 10-win season. The Giants, Chargers and Titans made the playoffs with health on their side as well, although it caught up with San Diego in an awful hurry in the postseason.
 
Minnesota, the No. 3 team on the list, also significantly exceeded expectations even though they missed out on the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoffs. 
 
Maybe the most surprising name on the list is the Jets – how did a team that stayed mostly healthy and returned almost all of their starters from a 10-6 playoff team finish 4-12? 
 
Oakland and Kansas City certainly have no excuse for their lame finish either, finishing No. 4 and No. 6 on the least injured list.
 
A team-by-team breakdown.
 
ATLANTA
QB Michael Vick 16 games
T Wayne Gandy 11 games
DT Rod Coleman 12 games
T Todd Weiner 8 games
WR Joe Horn 4 games
S Chris Crocker 2 games
DT Jonathan Babineaux 3 games
TE Alge Crumpler 2 games
 
TOTAL: 58 games
 
ARIZONA
WR Anquan Boldin 4 games
TE Leonard Pope 3 games
LB Karlos Dansby 2 games
CB Eric Green 5 games
S Adrian Wilson 7 games
DE Bertrand Berry 7 games
LB Chike Okeafor 16 games
TOTAL: 44 games
 
BALTIMORE
QB Steve McNair 9 games
RB Willis McGahee 1 games
TE Todd Heap 10 games
LB Ray Lewis 2 games
CB Samari Rolle 10 games
CB Chris McAllister 8 games
DE Trevor Pryce 11 games
T Jonathan Ogden 5 games
C Mike Flynn 1 game
TOTAL: 57 games
 
BUFFALO
RB Marshawn Lynch 3 games
CB Jason Webster 15 games
S Ko Simpson 15 games
LB Paul Pozluzny 13 games
S Donte Whitner 1 game
CB Terrence McGee 1 game
DE Ryan Denney 4 games
DE Chris Kelsay 2 games
T Jason Peters 1 game
TOTAL: 55 games
 
CAROLINA
QB Jake Delhomme 13 games
WR Steve Smith 1 game
LB Dan Morgan 13 games
DE Julius Peppers 2 games
S Chris Harris 1 game
TOTAL: 30 games
 
CHICAGO
T John Tait 1 game
RB Cedric Benson 5 games
TE Greg Olsen 2 games
S Mike Brown 15 games
CB Nathan Vasher 12 games
LB Lance Briggs 2 games
DT Dusty Dvoracek 15 games
G Ruben Brown 7 games
TOTAL: 52 games
 
CINCINNATI
T Levi Jones 1 game
T Willie Anderson 9 games
C Eric Ghiacuc 4 games
RB Chris Perry/Kenny Irons/Chris Henry 16 games
RB Rudi Johnson 5 games
LB Ahmad Brooks 14 games
S Dexter Jackson 2 games
S Madieu Williams 3 games
TOTAL: 54 games
 
CLEVELAND
RB Jamal Lewis 1 game
LB D'Qwell Jackson 2 games
DT Ted Washington 11 games
TOTAL: 14 games
 
DALLAS
WR Terrell Owens 1 game
WR Terry Glenn 16 games
S Roy Williams 1 game
CB Terance Newman 3 games
CB Anthony Henry 3 games
NT Jason Ferguson 15 games
TOTAL: 39 games
 
DENVER
DE Ebenezer Ekuban 16 games
G Ben Hamilton 16 games
C Tom Nalen 11 games
RB Travis Henry 4 games
WR Brandon Stokley 3 games
WR Javon Walker 8 games
TE Daniel Graham 1 game
S Nick Ferguson 4 games
CB Champ Bailey 1 game
LB Ian Gold 2 games
S John Lynch 3 games
TOTAL: 69 games
 
DETROIT
RB Kevin Jones 3 games
WR Roy Williams 4 games
TE Dan Campbell 14 games
WR Calvin Johnson 1 game
DE Dewayne White 2 games
DE Kalimba Edwards 8 games
LB Boss Bailey 1 game
S Daniel Bullocks 16 games
T Damien Woody 3 games
TOTAL: 53 games
 
GREEN BAY
WR Greg Jennings 3 games
WR Donald Driver 1 game
TE Donald Lee 1 game
DE Aaron Kampman 1 game
CB Charles Woodson 2 games
S Nick Collins 3 games
DT Justin Harrell 2 games
TOTAL: 13 games
 
HOUSTON
QB Matt Schaub 5 games
RB Ahman Green 10 games
WR Andre Johnson 7 games
S Glenn Earl 16 games
CB Dunta Robinson 7 games
DE Anthony Weaver 1 game
C Mike Flanagan 3 games
TOTAL: 49 games

INDY
RB Joseph Addai 1 game
TE Dallas Clark 1 game
TE Ben Utecht 2 games
WR Marvin Harrison 11 games
LB Freddy Keiaho 5 games
DE Robert Mathis 3 games
DT Raheem Brock 5 games
DT Anthony McFarland 16 games
DE Dwight Freeney 7 games
S Bob Sanders 1 game
S Antoine Bethea 3 games
T Tony Ugoh 5 games
T Ryan Diem 6 games
LB Rob Morris 14 games
TOTAL: 64 games
 
JACKSONVILLE
RB Fred Taylor 1 game
RB Maurice Jones-Drew 1 game
QB David Garrard 4 games
LB Mike Peterson 6 games
LB Daryl Smith 1 game
CB Brian Williams 2 games
CB Rashean Mathis 2 games
DT Marcus Stroud 7 games
DT John Henderson 1 game
DE Reggie Hayward 4 games
T Tony Pashos 1 game
G Vince Manuwai 1 game
G Chris Naeole 8 games
C Brad Meester 5 games
TOTAL: 44 games
 
KANSAS CITY
RB Larry Johnson 8 games
WR Eddie Kennison 8 games
DE Jared Allen 2 games
DT Afonso Boone 1 game
T Damien McIntosh 1 game
TOTAL: 20 games
 
MIAMI
QB Trent Green 11 games
RB Ronnie Brown 9 games
WR Marty Booker 1 game
LB Channing Crowder 5 games
LB Zach Thomas 11 games
S Yeremiah Bell 15 games
DT Keith Traylor 1 game
DE Matt Roth 3 games
DE Vonnie Holliday 4 games
TOTAL: 60 games
 
MINNESOTA
RB Adrian Peterson 2 games
RB Chester Taylor 2 games
QB Tarvaris Jackson 4 games
CB Antoine Winfield 6 games
S Dwight Smith 2 games
TOTAL: 16 games
 
NEW ENGLAND
RB Lawrence Maroney 3 games
TE Ben Watson 4 games
S Rodney Harrison 4 games
DE Richard Seymour 7 games
LB Rosevelt Colvin 5 games
S James Sanders 1 game
G Stephen Neal 8 games
T Nick Kaczur 1 game
TOTAL: 33 games
 
NEW ORLEANS
RB Reggie Bush 4 games
RB Deuce McAllister 13 games
TE Eric Johnson 2 games
LB Shawn Fujita 1 game
S Josh Bullocks 2 games
LB Scott Shanle 2 games
CB Mike McKenzie 1 game
CB Jason David 3 games
DE Charles Grant 2 games
DT Brian Young 7 games
T Jamaal Brown 1 game
C Jeff Faine 2 games
TOTAL: 40 games
 
NEW YORK GIANTS
RB Brandon Jacobs 5 games
TE Jeremy Shockey 2 games
S Gibril Wilson 3 games
LB Matthias Kiwanuka 5 games
S James Butler 3 games
TOTAL: 18 games
 
NEW YORK JETS
LB Jonathan Vilma 9 games
CB Justin Miller 14 games
WR Laveranues Coles 4 games
WR Jerrico Cotchery 1 game
TE Chris Baker 1 game
TOTAL: 29 games
 
OAKLAND
LB Robert Thomas 2 games
S Stuart Schweigert 1 game
DE Derrick Burgess 2 games
CB Nmamdi Asomugha 1 game
DT Tommy Kelly 9 games
C Jeremy Newberry 2 games
TOTAL: 17 games
 
PHILADELPHIA
QB Donovan McNabb 2 games
RB Brian Westbrook 1 game
TE L.J. Smith 6 games
LB Takeo Spikes 2 games
S Sean Considine 8 games
CB Lito Sheppard 5 games
S Brian Dawkins 6 games
DT Brodrick Bunkley 1 game
T William Thomas 1 game
G Shawn Andrews 1 game
TOTAL: 33 games
 
PITTSBURGH
QB Ben Roethlisberger 1 game
RB Willie Parker 1 game
WR Hines Ward 3 games
WR Santonio Holmes 3 games
S Troy Polamalu 5 games
DT Casey Hampton 1 game
DE Aaron Smith 5 games
S Ryan Clark 10 games
T Marvel Smith 4 games
TOTAL: 33 games
 
SAN DIEGO
FB Lorenzo Neal 3 games
LB Matt Wilhelm 2 games
LB Shawne Merriman 1 game
LB Shaun Phillips 1 game
DT Jamal Williams 3 games
DE Luis Castillo 6 games
S Eric Weddle 1 game
C Nick Hardwick 4 games
TOTAL: 21 games
 
SAN FRANCISCO
QB Alex Smith 9 games
RB Frank Gore 1 game
TE Vernon Davis 2 games
WR Darrell Jackson 1 game
CB Walt Harris 1 game
LB Derek Smith 1 game
G Justin Smiley 8 games
T Jonas Jennings 11 games
LB Manny Lawson 14 games
TOTAL: 48 games
 
SEATTLE
DT Marcus Tubbs 16 games
FB Mack Strong 11 games
RB Shaun Alexander 3 games
WR Deion Branch 5 games
LB Leroy Hill 2 games
DT Rocky Bernard 2 games
T Walter Jones 1 game
TOTAL: 40 games
 
ST. LOUIS
QB Marc Bulger 4 games
RB Steven Jackson 4 games
WR Isaac Bruce 2 games
S Corey Chavous 2 games
CB Tye Hill 8 games
DE Leonard Little 9 games
CB Fakhir Brown 4 games
C Brett Romberg 7 games
T Orlando Pace 14 games
TOTAL: 54 games
 
TAMPA BAY
QB Jeff Garcia 3 games
RB Cadillac Williams 12 games
WR Ike Hilliard 1 game
WR Joey Galloway 1 game
TE Alex Smith 2 games
LB Barrett Ruud 1 game
S Jermaine Phillips 1 game
T Luke Petitgout 12 games
TOTAL: 33 games
 
TENNESSEE
QB Vince Young 1 game
WR Brandon Jones 7 games
CB Nick Harper 2 games
LB Ryan Fowler 2 games
S Chris Hope 5 games
DT Albert Haynesworth 3 games
G Benji Olson 3 games
TOTAL: 23 games
 
WASHINGTON
QB Jason Campbell 3 games
WR Santana Moss 2 games
WR Antwaan Randle-El 1 game
LB Rocky McIntosh 2 games
LB Marcus Washington 4 games
S Sean Taylor 7 games
DE Phillip Daniels 1 game
CB Fred Smoot 3 games
T Jon Jansen 15 games
G Randy Thomas 13 games
C Casey Rabach 1 game
TOTAL: 52 games

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