We have all heard of the Madden NFL video game curse for players. Does the same apply to teams appearing on HBO's "Hard Knocks" series? The Houston Texans are the club this year. Let's look at how previous teams have fared after being on the show.
Texans An Interesting Choice
A couple of weeks ago, there were rumors the Browns were going to be the team on "Hard Knocks." That certainly would have made an interesting choice with all the drama surrounding that franchise (a team to fade with our NFL picks). The owner has been in trouble with the feds. The general manager has been suspended four games for sending texts to the sideline during games. And then of course you have the whole Johnny Manziel circus as he attempts to salvage his NFL career out of rehab and battling Josh McCown for the starting quarterback job.
But Houston was named the choice for the 10th season of the show Wednesday and I think that's a great option. First off, you have the incomparable J.J. Watt, clearly the best defensive player alive right now and also very popular on social media. We saw a brief glimpse of Watt last year when the Texans scrimmaged the "Hard Knocks" Atlanta Falcons.
We also have 2014 No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney, a defensive end out of South Carolina, looking to come back from major knee surgery and prove he won't become a major bust. There's running back Arian Foster, one of the most unique personalities in the NFL. And, perhaps first and foremost, there's a legitimate quarterback battle between Ryan Mallett and free-agent acquisition Brian Hoyer.
It's the first time on "Hard Knocks" for Houston as it apparently beat out Washington (Robert Griffin III drama would have been good) and Buffalo (Rex Ryan on "Hard Knocks" again? Yes please!).
The Texans open the season at home against Kansas City as 1.5-point favorites on the NFL odds. Houston has a wins total of 'over/under' 8.5 off last season's 9-7 mark. Most expect the team to finish second in the AFC South to the Indianapolis Colts again. I do.
Previous 'Hard Knocks' Teams
2001 Baltimore Ravens
This was the only defending Super Bowl champion to appear on the show. The 2000 club was one of the best defensive teams in the modern era. The '01 team was pretty good, finishing 10-6 and earning a wild-card spot. The Ravens won 20-3 at Miami to open the playoffs but then lost 27-10 at Pittsburgh.
2002 Dallas Cowboys
Certainly one of the most bland teams to appear on the show as Dallas was coming off two straight 5-11 seasons and would have another in '02. That would cost Coach Dave Campo his job. The Dallas QBs that season were the forgettable Chad Hutchinson and Quincy Carter. It was Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith's final season in a Cowboys uniform.
2007 Kansas City Chiefs
As you can see the show took a break for a handful of years. The Chiefs were a 9-7 wild-card team in 2006 but slipped to 4-12 in '07 and tied for last in the AFC West under second-year coach Herm Edwards. Your K.C. quarterbacks that year were Damon Huard and Brodie Croyle. Yikes. This was also the season after Chiefs running back Larry Johnson had a monster 2006 year that essentially wore him down for good. He had just 559 yards rushing in eight games in '07.
2008 Dallas Cowboys
No owner markets his team like Jerry Jones and he'd probably be OK with Dallas on this show every year. The Cowboys were coming off a 13-3 record and division title in 2007 but went 9-7 and missed the playoffs in '08. It was Terrell Owens' final season in a Cowboys uniform.
2009 Cincinnati Bengals
Many think this was the best season of "Hard Knocks" because Bengals receiver Chad Johnson was such a breakout star on the show. Cincinnati would finish 10-6 and win the AFC North but be upset at home in the wild-card game 24-14 to the Jets.
2010 New York Jets
If the '09 show wasn't the best then this was because Ryan was so incredibly entertaining (and profane). I well remember star cornerback Darrelle Revis' holdout being a big storyline as well. The Jets went 11-5 this season and reached a second straight AFC title game, losing in Pittsburgh. New York hasn't been back to the playoffs since.
2012 Miami Dolphins
Because of the NFL's labor issue there was no show in 2011. The two biggest stories from this were rookie QB Ryan Tannehill winning the starting QB job and the team releasing Chad Johnson for an arrest. Miami finished 7-9 under rookie coach Joe Philbin.
2013 Cincinnati Bengals
Really not much memorable from that year's show. Cincinnati finished 11-5 and won the AFC North but again flamed out in the wild-card round.
2014 Atlanta Falcons
Another rather bland season, with Coach Mike Smith attempting to keep his job off a 4-12 mark in 2013. The Falcons lost an NFC South de-facto title game in Week 17 last season and finished 6-10, leading to Smith's firing.
NFL Free Pick: As you can see no team has reached the Super Bowl the season on "Hard Knocks." Houston has the defense to do so in 2015 but not the quarterback.