A Cleveland Browns fan cheers Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
HBO will be getting cozy with the Cleveland Browns this summer. That’s right: The 0-16 Browns are your 2018 “Hard Knocks” team.
After Cleveland selected Baker Mayfield and Denzel Ward with two of the top four picks in the 2018 NFL draft — plus adding players such as Tyrod Taylor, Jarvis Landry and Carlos Hyde — there’s reason to be hopeful inside the “Dawg Pound.” (It’s hard for it to get any worse after winning four total games the past three seasons.)
But there’s one reason for Browns fans to be weary (other than, you know, the fact that they’re Browns fans): The teams that have participated on the show have experienced some mixed results.
Let’s take a look at some highlights:
The Browns have the lowest projected Vegas win total (5.5) of any of the 12 previous teams to appear on “Hard Knocks”. In 2002, the Cowboys had a win total of 6 and finished 5-11, going under their projected win total.
In the 12 seasons of “Hard Knocks,” teams have gone under their projected win totals seven times (the 2012 Dolphins pushed), including in three of the past four years. The past two years, the Buccaneers and Rams both went under by a whopping 3.5 games each.
Against The Spread
Similar to the win total results, “Hard Knocks” teams have gone under .500 against the spread in seven of 11 seasons when appearing on the HBO series (not including an 8-8 ATS push from the 2002 Cowboys). All 12 teams on Hard Knocks have a combined ATS record of 89-97-6, with the Buccaneers and Rams posting the two worst ATS records to date among the “Hard Knocks” crew over the past two seasons.
Is Hard Knocks a distraction during the preseason as players are forced to play alongside HBO’s cameras? It appears so.
The previous 12 teams on Hard Knocks went a combined 18-29 ATS in the preseason. Ten of the 12 teams finished with an ATS record of .500 or worse. None of the 12 teams went undefeated ATS in the preseason.
Surprisingly enough, four of the 12 teams to headline “Hard Knocks” have actually made the playoffs that same season, with the last being the Texans in 2015. The two most recent teams (Texans and Bengals) to make the playoffs after appearing on “Hard Knocks” lost their playoff games.