The NFL is the most popular sport in America, and many of its teams are among the most valuable in all of sports. Every year, Forbes releases its list of the league’s most valuable franchises, and every year the same team ranks as the most valuable NFL team.
In compiling the list, the team values Forbes uses are enterprise value — equity plus net debt — and includes the team’s stadium economics, but not its real estate value. With that in mind, here are the five most valuable NFL teams in 2019, according to Forbes. Spoiler alert: the No. 1 team probably won’t surprise you.
San Francisco 49ers, $3.5 billion
The 49ers’ $3.5 billion value is a 15% increase from 2018. The team is owned by Denise DeBartolo York and John York, and it has an operating income of $93 million.
The 49ers’ value is on the rise, and so is their play on the field. After five straight seasons without a winning record, the 49ers are 10-2 after Week 13 and appear to have the inside track to getting the top seed in the playoffs in the NFC. The team is largely being carried by the defense, which has allowed the second-fewest points in the league this season.
Los Angeles Rams, $3.8 billion
The Rams’ value has increased 19%, as the Stan Kroenke-owned club continues to move closer to completing its new stadium, SoFi Stadium, which is slated to open in time to host the Rams’ — and Chargers’ — home games next season.
The team’s operating income sits at $30 million, but that may rise next season as the team sees increased income that usually comes with the opening of a new stadium. After losing to the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII, the Rams have regressed some this season and are 7-5 and in third place in the NFC West through Week 12.
New York Giants, $3.9 billion
Being the more popular of the two teams in the country’s biggest market helps the Giants secure a spot in the top five on Forbes’ list. Owned by John Mara and Steven Tisch, the Giants have an operating income of $142 million, which has helped the team’s value increase by 18%.
On the field, though, things aren’t as good for the Giants. Benching QB Eli Manning in favor of rookie Daniel Jones hasn’t helped the Giants as much as they had hoped it would. They are just 2-10 after Week 13’s action and facing a third-straight season without a playoff appearance.
New England Patriots, $4.1 billion
The most successful team of the last two decades finds itself at No. 2 on the list. Coming off their sixth Super Bowl title since 2001, the Patriots’ value has gone up 8% for owner Robert Kraft, and the team’s operating income is $240 million.
The Patriots look to be on track to potentially repeat as champs come February, as they are leading the AFC with a 10-2 record in their first 12 games, despite QB Tom Brady showing his age and not playing as well as we have come to expect from him, perhaps even failing to match the numbers he put up last season.
Dallas Cowboys, $5.5 billion
Of course the Cowboys are No. 1 on Forbes’ list. There’s a reason they’re nicknamed “America’s Team.” What may be surprising is the large gap between Jerry Jones’ squad and the second-place Patriots.
The Cowboys’ value has increased 10%, and their operating income is $420 million. They’re fighting to maintain first place in the NFC East with a 6-6 record as they look to make the postseason for the third time in the last four seasons.
They’ve kept their spot atop this ranking for 13 straight years, even though they haven’t won a championship during that time; they haven’t won it all since Super Bowl XXX.