Patriots the most cost-effective NFL team

The New England Patriots have proved formidable on the field and frugal off it. Tom Brady(notes) and company finished the 2010 NFL regular season with a league-best 14-2 record. They also rank as the league’s most cost-effective team.

With a payroll of approximately $92.7 million, third-lowest in the NFL, New England paid just $6.6 million in payroll per win. That’s 58 percent more efficient than the league median cost per win.

The second-best performance for the money this season was turned in by the red-hot Atlanta Falcons, who won nine of their last 10 games to take the top seeding in the NFC for the playoffs. With a payroll of $96.4 million, seventh-lowest in the league, the Falcons shelled out $7.4 million in payroll per win.

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In Pictures: The NFL’s most cost-efficient teams

Conversely, the Carolina Panthers were by far the least cost-efficient team of 2010. Completing a dismal 2-14 season with an away loss to the Falcons on Sunday, it cost Carolina $56.1 million for each of their two wins. That’s over 250 percent less efficient than the league median cost per win.

Second-worst in the league: the hapless Bills, who paid out $113.3 million in salary, a hair above the league average, but won only four games.

The average cost per win league-wide was $17.1 million, while the median cost per win was $15.6 million.

Kansas City had the lowest team payroll in 2010 at approximately $83.6 million, yet they won the AFC West with a record of 10-6 and secured one home playoff game with the AFC’s No. 4 seed. The Chiefs rank as the fourth most cost-efficient team of the season.

Within the same division, Oakland had the highest team payroll at approximately $152.4 million. Winning their final game on Sunday pushed the Raiders to an 8-8 season, or roughly $19 million in payroll per victory, 11th-worst league-wide.

Not surprisingly, the NFC West champion Seattle Seahawks with a 7-9 record are the least cost-effective team among 2010-11 playoff participants at $14.7 million in payroll per win. The least cost-effective team with at least 10 wins is the New Orleans Saints, who paid nearly $12 million for each of their 11 wins.

The most cost-effective team to not make the playoffs is the 10-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who ranked as the seventh most efficient team at a cost of $10.4 million per win.

The top five:

1. New England Patriots: Slideshow
2. Atlanta Falcons: Slideshow
3. Baltimore Ravens: Slideshow
4. Kansas City Chiefs: Slideshow
5. Indianapolis Colts: Slideshow
See the least cost-efficient teams

In Pictures: The NFL’s most cost-efficient teams


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Updated Tuesday, Jan 4, 2011