Hard Knocks is in the process of deciding on a team to feature this August, and based on stipulations set forth by the NFL – no rookie coaches or playoff teams – it appears these are the eight candidates for the show:
New York Giants
St. Louis Rams
Of course any other team could volunteer, but that seems unlikely.
I think it’s safe to assume the Rams won’t be the team. There’s already enough interest around Michael Sam, and the team already got the rookie to postpone his documentary series.
The Raiders? There’s zero juice there. Al Davis is gone. The team doesn’t have a star or really anyone of national interest. They wouldn’t try to build a reality show around one of the worst teams in the league and Matt Schaub, would they? Jacksonville, the least popular team in the NFL based on any metric you’d like to examine, can’t be considered, can it? They’re a year away from being interesting. The Steelers seem to be fading fast and could end up being 4th in their division this season. The New York Giants will always be attractive because they play in the largest market in the country, but Eli Manning is boring, and Tom Coughlin is, too.
I think the Cardinals – with guys like Honey Badger, Larry Fitzgerald, Darnell Dockett and even a major project like QB Logan Thomas – are a fascinating team. I’ve already called them a deep Super Bowl sleeper, and it all hinges on QB Carson Palmer. They’re like the Bengals of the NFC, which is, incidentally, where Palmer used to play.
Buffalo is moderately interesting, since the Bills have pushed all their chips in the middle in an attempt to make a run at the playoffs. With new ownership coming in, that entire front office could be wiped out next offseason. It’d be much tougher to do that with a successful team.
The Bears seem on the cusp of something; they missed the playoffs on the final day of the season when Aaron Rodgers did this. Offense sells tickets, and does it generate eyeballs, too? Brandon Marshall is a fascinating character, and other guys like Jay Cutler, Martellus Bennett and newbie Jared Allen round out an interesting group. The Bears have history, are a top TV market, and their coach used to be in the CFL.
My guesses: 1) Cardinals, 2) Bears, 3) Bills.