Jerry Tapp

HBO's "Hard Knocks" Can Make Or Break Your Season

Created on Aug. 31, 2013 5:21 AM EST

If you are a Cincinnati Bengals fan, the following two items will be of special interest to you ... especially if you think your team has a shot at finally winning a playoff game and advancing deep into the NFL playoffs.

2013 Games Versus 2012 Playoff Teams

Each of the 32 NFL teams will play between five and seven games this season against teams that made the playoffs last year. In fact, 11 teams will play seven games against '12 playoff teams, nine will play six games against last year's playoff teams, and 12 teams will face off against playoff teams from last year five times.

Here's a look at how many teams from last year's playoffs each team will play this year (included in parenthesis are the number of home games and away games versus these playoff teams).

Seven games this year versus 2012 playoff teams: Baltimore (five home, two away); Cleveland (two home, five away); Houston (four home, three away); Jacksonville (three home, four away); Pittsburgh (two home, five away); Arizona (five home, two away); Chicago (four home, three away); Detroit (four home, three away); Green Bay (three home, four away); St. Louis (two home, five away); San Francisco (five home, two away).

Six games this year versus 2012 playoff teams: Cincinnati (five home, one away); Indianapolis (three home, three away); Miami (four home, two away); San Diego (four home, two away); Tennessee (two home, four away); Carolina (three home, three away); Minnesota (two home, four away); New York Giants (five home, one away); Seattle (two home, four away).

Five games this year versus 2012 playoff teams: Buffalo (four home, one away); Denver (two home, three away); Kansas City (three home, two away); New England (one home, four away); New York Jets (one home, four away); Oakland (two home, three away); Atlanta (three home, two away); Dallas (four home, one away); New Orleans (two home, three away); Philadelphia (one home, four away); Tampa Bay (two home, three away); Washington (one home, four away).

So does the above list favor (or not favor) any teams? Here's a few observations:

* Five teams will play five games at home against 2012 playoff teams: Baltimore, Cincinnati, Arizona, New York Giants and San Francisco. Of those five, the Bengals and Giants will only have to play one 2012 playoff team on the road.

* Of the 12 teams that play only five games against last year's playoff teams, Buffalo and Dallas play four of those five games at home.

* Four teams play only one game at home against a playoff team from last year: New England, New York Jets, Philadelphia and Washington. All four of them will play four games on the road against playoff teams from last year.

* Of the 11 teams that will play seven games against 2012 playoff teams this year, three teams (Cleveland, Pittsburgh and St. Louis) will play five of those seven on the road.

Hard Knocks

If you are a football fan and have HBO, you have probably been watching this year's version of "Hard Knocks," starring the Cincinnati Bengals. This is the Bengals' second time on the popular HBO show (they first appeared in 2009).

So here's the question ... is having your team appear on this show good for the team (in terms of record, playoff appearance, etc.)?

This is the eighth season of the show. Here's a quick rundown of which teams appeared on the show that started in 2001:

Baltimore (2001)

Dallas (2002)

Kansas City (2007)

Dallas (2008)

Cincinnati (2009)

New York Jets (2010)

Miami (2012)

Cincinnati (2013)

We looked at the record of those teams appearing on "Hard Knocks" in the seasons prior to, during and after they were the focus of the show. Here are some of those stats.

The season before they appeared on Hard Knocks: The eight teams were a combined 68-59-1 (a .535 winning percentage) in the season prior to Hard Knocks. Five of the eight teams made the playoffs. Five of the eight had winning records.

The season they appeared on Hard Knocks: The previous seven teams prior to this year's Bengals appearance were a combined 56-56 (a .500 winning percentage) in the season they appeared. Only three of the seven made the playoffs. Of the seven teams, three had a worse record the year they appeared on "Hard Knocks" than the previous year, one had the same record, and three had a better record. The last three teams to appear on Hard Knocks — Cincinnati (2009), New York Jets (2010) and Miami (2012) — had a better record during their "Hard Knocks" season than the previous year.

The season after they appeared on Hard Knocks: The six teams that have already played a season after their "Hard Knocks" appearance were a combined 42-54 the next season (a .438 winning percentage). Only two of the six made the playoffs the year after they appeared.

Hang on Bengals' fans.This could get interesting.

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