Hard Knocks 2022: Top reason to bet against the Detroit Lions

First, NFLbets says this: Belief in curses, solipsistic tendencies (i.e. “Team X always burns me when I bet them”) or any sort of superstitious nonsense is anathema to the successful NFL bettor.

Having said that, the producers of HBO’s “reality tv” series Hard Knocks may be on to a mystical secret which appears to the untrained eye as a curse but is instead a clever little formula with a high success rate for determining which NFL team or teams are doomed for the upcoming season.

Case in point: Sorry, folks, it’s the Detroit Lions.

NFLbets’ll inform why momentarily, but first take a look at the sheer excitement demonstrated by the network for this year’s edition of the series:

Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Detroit Lions will chronicle head coach Dan Campbell entering his second season leading the team and an intriguing mix of young emerging stars, established veterans, free agent additions and highly regarded rookie hopefuls throughout training camp and the preseason…

Can you say “generic”…?

Last season, HKTC featured the Dallas Cowboys, who, despite rumors to the contrary, did not actually volunteer to take part in the show. Rather, Dallas met the producers’ three standard criteria for the show, which exclude any teams

• with first-year head coaches;
• who made the playoffs in the last two seasons; and
• which have already been on the show within the past 10 years.

Exceptions are occasionally made: In 2010, the New York Jets were featured, due to the New York market itself and/or Rex Ryan’s desire to get on tv. And in 2020, “thanks” to Covid, HBO not only chose to focus on the preseasons of two teams, but included the Rams who’d both recently made the playoffs and appeared on the show.

As to how Hard Knocks (Training Camp edition) teams fared during the season in which they were featured, here’s the list since Liev Schreiber took over as narrator:

• 2007 Kansas City Chiefs: 4-12
• 2008 Dallas Cowboys: 9-7
• 2009 Cincinnati Bengals: 10-6, lost in wild-card game
• 2010 New York Jets: 11-5, lost in conference championship
• 2012 Miami Dolphins: 7-9
• 2013 Cincinnati Bengals: 11-5, lost at home in wild card game
• 2014 Atlanta Falcons: 6-10
• 2015 Houston Texans: 9-7, lost 30-0 at home in wild card game
• 2016 Los Angeles Rams: 4-12
• 2017 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 5-11
• 2018 Cleveland Browns: 7-8-1
• 2019 Oakland Raiders: 7-9
• 2020 “Los Angeles” Chargers: 7-9
• 2020 Los Angeles Rams: 10-6, lost in divisional round
• 2021 Dallas Cowboys: 12-5, lost in wildcard round

The 2022 Cowboys therefore became the first team to meet the standard Hard Knocks criteria and make the playoffs since ’09. Note, too, that no such team has *ever* won a playoff game.

Again, NFLbets doesn’t mean to suggest a curse is at work in the HBO offices, but have instead serendipitously stumbled upon a filter for teams unlikely to advance to the postseason in a given year. Hell, the first two reasons alone are enough to indicate in the short-term NFL that thinks are amiss with the franchise: The prospective Hard Knocks team has probably had two seasons’ worth of losing records and is probably still carrying the same head coach – this may not be the case with the second-year Campbell, but Campbell hardly looked like a wunderkind in season 1.

Incidentally, the other finalists for consideration to be showcased in the 2021 season of Hard Knocks were the Arizona Cardinals (finished 11-6, lost in wildcard round); Carolina Panthers (5-12); Denver Broncos (7-10); and New York Giants (4-13).

So, yeah. The Lions are fetching odds of -550 or so to miss the playoffs, and their over/under wins total is 6½ games. As the average Hard Knocks team goes right about .500, a 7-10 or 8-9 finish doesn’t seem impossible, but we wouldn’t necessarily advise so.

However, Jared Goff and his Cats get into the postseason, you’ll be betting the house against what looks like a curse, but is really all about that lack of “playoff experience”…

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