HBO’s “Hard Knocks” has gifted us with so many compelling moments over the years that even 2020 alumnus Sean McVay wouldn’t be able to remember all of them.
If you ask 20 different people what their favorite scene is, it’s likely you’ll get 20 different answers. Maybe it’s Cleveland Browns offensive line coach Bob Wylie’s rant about how stretching is overrated, or Jared Goff not knowing where the sun rises and sets, or any scene with Trevon Diggs’ son.
The cinéma vérité docuseries has done more than just boost individual personalities, though. For several seasons now, every team that’s been featured has covered their Week 1 spread, finished the year with a better record than the previous season, and gone at least .500 against the spread for the year.
The team who will be hoping to get that boost this season? The Detroit Lions.
It’s the hard knock life
Only four teams over the past 13 years of “Hard Knocks” have gone under their season win total, and only two finished with a worse record than they had the preceding year.
That latter one won’t be too tough for the Lions to achieve, seeing how they only won three games in Dan Campbell’s first year as head coach. Surpassing their season win total of 6.5 on BetMGM will be the real battle.
It’s a battle Campbell’s men are well-equipped to fight. The Lions ran into a considerable amount of bad luck in 2021. No NFL team had more games missed by injured starters than Detroit (134). Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow and edge rusher Romeo Okwara each missed 13 games, left tackle Taylor Decker was out for eight, tight end T.J. Hockenson was unavailable for the final five, and cornerback Jeff Okudah was lost for the season to a torn Achilles in Week 1.
Dan Campbell’s Detroit Lions will be featured in this year’s “Hard Knocks” on HBO. (Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
No one would have blamed Campbell if his Lions had been blown off the field every week, but that’s not what happened. Nearly half of their losses were by a single score. Detroit finished 11-6 against the spread, which was third-best in the league.
All those injured players will be back in the lineup in 2022, alongside second overall pick Aidan Hutchinson and Jameson Williams, whom the Lions traded up to select at No. 12 in last month’s draft.
Detroit will also enjoy the NFL’s fifth-easiest schedule. Combine that with the fact that Campbell fights as hard for his team as they do for him (the Lions led the league in going for it on fourth downs), and Detroit’s 2022 is looking bright enough that fans may want to don some Cartier Buffs.
The Lions are a 3.5-point home underdog to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1. The last six “Hard Knocks” teams have all covered their spreads in the NFL’s opening week.
Stats provided by Pro Football Reference, teamrankings.com, Sharp Football, and sportsoddshistory.com.