The LA Rams have been featured on Hard Knocks in two of the last five seasons, but they won’t be subject to having to go through that again for quite some time. The NFL needs to focus on some of their other franchises and with the Hard Knocks team announcement expected any day now, there are only five clubs that would be required to say “OK” if the league tells them that it will be them.
A sixth team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, has been rumored as the most likely to be featured on Hard Knocks this year, but because they have a first-year head coach in Urban Meyer, they’d be allowed to reject the request. These five teams would not be allowed to say no: Cowboys, Panthers, Giants, Broncos, and Cardinals.
Could it be another NFC West team in the HBO spotlight this year?
Arizona seems like the second-most desirable team to cover for HBO, after Dallas, a team with all the obvious glam and glitter to potentially attract ratings to a show that hasn’t necessarily been trending in the right direction as of late. The 2020 edition featuring the Rams and Chargers was called the least-watched season in the show’s history. There were outside factors impacting those numbers, such as the pandemic and the lack of a preseason, but the NFL and HBO would surely like to bounce back with a vengeance.
By trading for Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Darnold, Denver and Carolina look like two franchises that intentionally did whatever they could to avoid being on Hard Knocks this year. If either of them are announced as the team, perhaps the NFL would be preparing us for a training camp trade of a major quarterback. No other explanation would make sense.
The Giants are in New York and the Cowboys are the Cowboys, so those two franchises have some built-in qualities that would attract a TV network. But the Cardinals might have the most intriguing team of these five. Arizona features a recent number one overall pick at quarterback, a meme’d head coach, a Hall of Fame caliber wide receiver in his prime, and they could enter the season as one of the most talented teams in history to be cited as “the fourth-best in their division”.
In addition to Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins, the Cardinals feature J.J. Watt, A.J. Green, Chandler Jones, Budda Baker, and Rodney Hudson, plus D.J. Humphries, Isaiah Simmons, Justin Pugh, Kelvin Beachum, Malcolm Butler, James Conner, first round linebacker Zaven Collins, and second round receiver Rondale Moore.
By the way, Arizona was one of five teams eligible to be on Hard Knocks in 2020, but they were not selected. Neither were any of the other four teams (Lions, Broncos, Jaguars, Steelers). The Rams and Chargers were only asked to do it because of SoFi Stadium, which turned out to be a non-factor because of closed-off stadiums in 2020. For this reason, one other sleeper team could be the Las Vegas Raiders and Allegiant Stadium. Though the Raiders were on Hard Knocks only two years ago, that didn’t stop the NFL from coming to the Rams last time.
Would the Cardinals, Cowboys, Giants, or “other” make the best Hard Knocks team?
Do you want the Cardinals on Hard Knocks?
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