According to osmguy.com’s annual Cost Per Win Efficiency Standings, the Kansas City Chiefs are the most efficient losers in the NFL.
What are the Cost Per Win Efficiency Standings?
I’ll let them explain:
The 2011 NFL cost per win efficiency standings were created by dividing each team’s 2011 total salary by their number of regular season wins during 2011. While the salary cap causes the NFL cost per win efficiency standings to be more balanced than our MLB cost per win analysis, which was our top story last year, the range in payrolls and wins does lead to some interesting results. Currently, NFL payrolls range from $92,768,120 (Jacksonville Jaguars) to $123,553,646 (Minnesota Vikings). How efficient each team is with their payrolls will be an important thing to keep an eye on because starting in the 2013 season, all teams will be spending within 10% of the same amount.
So basically the rankings are determined by which team was most efficient with their money. That is to say, who won the most games for the least amount of money per win.
The best in the NFL at this exercise are the Green Bay Packers. The Packers won 15 games and spent a total of $109,198,003 which was good for $7,279,867 per win. In second place is the San Francisco 49ers. They spent $104,604,488 and won 13 games for $8,046,499 per win.
There were only three teams that spent less than the NFL average on player salary that won more than eight games in 2011 and those teams are the Packers, 49ers and Bengals.
Nine teams (Patriots, Steelers, Saints, Ravens, Lions, Texans, Falcons, Titans, Giants) spent more than the NFL average and won nine games or more. One of those teams was the eventual Super Bowl Champion New York Giants.
Where do the Chiefs come in to all this?
Of the losers, or teams that won fewer than seven games, no team was more efficient to the Chiefs. Kansas City spent $93,446,708 on player salaries and won seven games, paying only $13,349,530 per win. They were 16th in the NFL in efficiency but they were the top sub-.500 team. In short, even though the Chiefs didn’t win a lot of games, they got really good value on the wins they did get.
Six of the eight division losers won five games or less. The Bills won six games and the Chiefs seven.
While this is interesting, there are other factors that aren’t included. For instance, the AFC North had a fairly easy schedule, helping the Bengals win more games than they probably should have. Had the Bengals played the same schedule as say, the Chiefs, they may have lost a couple of more games, thus taking a hit on their efficiency.
Still, the chart does illustrate that generally (but not always), the teams that spend more than the NFL average win more. This is a potential chicken-or-the-egg argument though. For instance, the Green Bay Packers are a young team and thus have a low payroll. As they develop stars, their team is going to get more expensive if they wish to keep those players. That means if the Packers are going to be a consistent winner, they are likely to move up (or down on the chart) as far as salary goes. Teams that might be one-year wonders thanks to an easy schedule, like the Bengals or the 2010 Chiefs, could eventually find it difficult to remain efficient because they are likely to win few games unless they keep their good players, which will be potentially more expensive.
The chart in no way proves that spending equals winning. I would view it more that teams that win consistently are forced to spend more generally. But as teams like the Minnesota Vikings and St. Louis Rams teach us, spending does not necessarily guarantee winning.
The good news is that right now and last year as well, the Chiefs were efficient. That efficiency will allow them the financial flexibility to continue winning if they chose. That likely means their payroll will go up at least a bit in the 2012 season and should begin to creep toward the league average. The 49ers and Packers, while incredibly efficient, still spent over ten million more than the Chiefs.
If the team truly is cheap, however, they are likely to either fall in efficiency or remain about the same. Remember, the Chiefs are the most efficient losers so if the goal is to win as many games as possible (which it is) they are still doing a bad job.
This is why, to me, there is absolutely no excuse for the Chiefs not to re-sign Dwayne Bowe and Brandon Carr. There are a couple of reasons for this. For starters, the Chiefs have zero receivers better than Dwayne Bowe and only one CB (and it is debatable) better than Brandon Carr. Next, the team has incredible financial flexibility. They can afford to give both Carr and Bowe whatever they want. Twice. Both players are productive. The Chiefs might have to overpay a little bit for them but that is the cost of doing business in the NFL. A team keeping its own developed stars is crucial.
The only excuse the Chiefs have for letting either Bowe or Carr go is if the player absolutely refuses to play in Kansas City. In fact, only one of them should get away in that instance because the Chiefs can force one player to stay via the franchise tag. And as excuses go, “he doesn’t want to play here” is not a good one. Why doesn’t he want to play here? The team can afford to pay him whatever he wants. The team is loaded with young talent; why would the player leave?
I am mostly alright with the Chiefs’ spending so far. I’ve been saying for a while that we would get the real scoop on whether or not the Chiefs are cheap when it came time to lock up their stars. So far, I’ve been pretty impressed. Charles, DJ, Tamba and Flowers are all bought and paid for. The team is obviously finished rebuilding. The time to start playoff runs is now.
To do that, the Chiefs will need to spend a little more filling holes in free agency and they absolutely must retain Bowe and Carr.
If they don’t, it will be clear to me that money is more important than winning in Kansas City.