Monday, March 14, 2016

Hard Knocks Odds 2016

One of the only saving graces from the Eagles dumpster fire of a season was the possibility that they could've been forced into participating in HBO's Hard Knocks training camp documentary series.

As a brief refresher - the NFL has previously decreed that individual teams may be 'volun-told' to participate as long as they haven't made the playoffs in the last two years, do not have a new coach, and haven't been on the show in the last ten years.

The Eagles were right in prime candidacy until they fired Chip Kelly. A new coach means they're off the potential selections. Too bad.

But that doesn't mean we can't predict who this years' team will be. Last year around this time, I successfully predicted the league would pick the Houston Texans.

This year, I'm going to try and predict it correctly again (caveat that a team might actually volunteer itself and blow up my prediction, as the Falcons did in 2014).

Here are the potential teams that meet the criteria as a selection:

- New Orleans Saints
- Oakland Raiders
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Chicago Bears
- San Diego Chargers
- Los Angeles Rams

I took this list off another article about Hard Knocks casting - so I'm just assuming it's right. If it is, the NFL certainly has its work cut out for it.

Right off the bat - I think we can eliminate three teams.

The Rams, Chargers, and Raiders all might be cross-offs because they've all been conducting huge campaigns to move their teams. The Rams will be in LA, the Chargers will probably be in LA after another year in San Diego, and the Raiders are still up in the air.

All those changes, combined with the fact that these teams have pissed off a lot of local communities, means the NFL might just avoid the mess altogether.

So we're already down to just three teams. The Saints, the Jaguars, and the Bears.

Now, of those three, the Saints have the highest player celebrity in quarterback Drew Brees. That's usually a good indicator. But I'm very hesitant to pick them, as their owner has been in a pretty nasty dispute with his family over control of his estate. All the hallmarks of a rich family feud - declining mental faculties, allegations of gold digging - yikes.

Even if that suit is resolved - does the NFL want to go near the executive offices where that tension might be simmering? I'd guess no.

So that leaves us with the Jaguars and the Bears.

I had the Jaguars as a fairly likely team last year, only on the basis of their owner's willingness to help out the league. The Jaguars always seem to play in London. But they've never really been an exciting team or one with any kind of national following.

The Bears, while they have a storied history, haven't exactly been thrilling anyone either. They also just let a big name offensive superstar, Matt Forte, walk in free agency. Jay Cutler remains at quarterback - but he definitely doesn't have the same charisma as JJ Watt brought last summer.

But I can't predict neither team will get put on the I'm forced to make a call between two less than thrilling options (not too different than the election I suppose).

I'm going to pick the Bears - mark it down. They have a good history, a big market, and no real dark clouds hanging over their heads. These days in the NFL, that's pretty hard to come by.

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