The 2017 NFL regular season officially is over, and we know what you’re thinking: Which teams are eligible for “Hard Knocks” next summer?
The HBO documentary gives us a behind-the-scenes look at a different NFL team each preseason, but there’s one issue: Most clubs don’t want to participate and give cameras that much access.
So, HBO and the league worked out a deal in 2013: If a team has A) a first-year head coach, B) made the playoffs in either of the last two seasons or C) appeared on Hard Knocks in the past 10 years, it doesn’t have to appear on the show. If a team doesn’t meet any of those three criteria, HBO could force it to star in “Hard Knocks.”
Who falls into that category in 2018? As of Tuesday, six teams are eligible for “Hard Knocks:” The San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Chargers, Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins.
The Browns would be an entertaining subject, as charismatic head coach Hue Jackson faces a tall task in bouncing back from a historically bad 0-16 season. There’s a clear top choice here, though: Jimmy Garoppolo and the Niners.
San Fran’s situation appeared hopeless until Garoppolo arrived in late October and went a perfect 5-0 in five starts down the stretch, appearing to live up to the hype as the team’s next great franchise quarterback. Watching Jimmy G continue his development on a young team with a green head coach in Kyle Shanahan would be fascinating, especially for fans who rarely saw Garoppolo’s candid moments in tight-lipped New England.
Thumbnail photo via Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports Images