Patriots are AFC East's best in the business

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
NFC South helmsman Pat Yasinskas uncovered an elaborate franchise analysis from bizjournals.com.

The parent company for Sports Business Journal, Sports Business Daily and Street and Smith's Sports Group ranked the 122 big-four sports clubs to determine which are the best and worst at achieving the ultimate combination of winning and making money during the 2008 calendar year.

Half of a team's score was determined by its level of success on the field, court or ice. Bizjournals' formula considered each franchise's win-loss record, average margin of victory (or defeat), and playoff results.

The other half was determined by a team's relative success in business. The formula analyzed average home attendance, the percentage of available seats sold for home games, and the increase (or decline) in a franchise's value from 2007 to 2008. The latter was based on annual estimates published by Forbes magazine.

The Boston Celtics finished first. The Detroit Lions finished dead last.

AFC East teams fared decently. Three finished above the median. You'd probably be surprised which one came in last.

The New England Patriots were 14th overall and second in the NFL behind the New York Giants. Even though the Patriots failed to make the playoffs with an 11-5 record, they sold out every game. Bizjournals estimated their franchise value increased by 10 percent.

The New York Jets came in 22nd overall and sixth in the NFL. Teams in between the Patriots and Jets were the Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens. That made the Jets the highest-ranking non-playoff team on the list. Bizjournals noted the Jets played before almost 98 percent capacity crowds and estimated the franchise increased in value by 21 percent. All of those Brett Favre jerseys probably helped a ton.

One would assume the small-market Buffalo Bills would rank last among AFC East teams, but they didn't. They ranked 66th overall and 21st in the NFL. Bizjournals put Ralph Wilson Stadium attendance at 96.5 percent and estimated the franchise value went up eight percent. It's uncertain how bizjournals factored the Bills' $78 million deal to move eight games to Toronto through 2012.

Perhaps reflective of why Wayne Huizenga unloaded 95 percent of his beloved Miami Dolphins to Stephen Ross, the club came in 78th overall, but 27th in the NFL despite winning the division championship. Bizjournals estimated the franchise increased in value by 11 percent, but Dolphin Stadium was filled only to 86.7 percent capacity.