In the NFL, there's a big difference between good teams and attention-heavy teams.
For example, in 2012, there were a lot of playoff teams, such as the Cincinnati Bengals, that received less attention than the 6-10 New York Jets. The Jets, who were recently featured on NFL Network's behind-the-scenes TV series Hard Knocks, weren't a good team in 2012, but due to the quarterback situation and the abundance of media in the Big Apple, the Jets received a lot of attention and were followed closely by a lot of people.
There are a lot of other teams that receive a lot of attention, whether it's because of a certain player or just because the team is good. Those teams are the teams that the show Hard Knocks craves, because Tom Brady's New England Patriots are definitely going to attract more viewers than the Tennessee Titans.
Which teams could be on Hard Knocks? Here are four teams that should be featured on the television series this offseason.
Two words: Colin Kaepernick.
Oh, and Patrick Willis. And NaVorro Bowman, Justin Smith, Aldon Smith, Jim Harbaugh, Frank Gore, Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree. The 49ers are full of interesting, talented players, and those players have combined to make the 49ers a dominant team. San Francisco won two thrilling playoff games and rallied valiantly in Super Bowl 47, but they fell short at the end.
The 49ers made improvements over the offseason, as they added depth at wide receiver, safety and on the defensive line. The new additions have lots of pundits tabbing the 49ers as Super Bowl favorites, which would definitely lead to a lot of viewers on Hard Knocks. The 49ers' new stadium won't be ready for the 2013 season, but it will be another interesting storyline for the show to follow.
San Francisco is a major media market, and the Bay Area's sports teams have gone on a tear lately. The San Francisco Giants, Oakland A's, Golden State Warriors and San Jose Sharks have experienced recent playoff runs, which has directed attention to the Bay Area. And, because of that, the 49ers have been the center of attention.
There's no reason why anyone should avoid watching a Hard Knocks series about the five-time Super Bowl champions. Kaepernick and the 49ers are hungry and poised to make another Super Bowl run, as the team is loaded with depth and talent. Kaepernick alone would be enough for me to tune in to a segment about the 49ers, and the fact that the 49ers are Super Bowl contenders is just a bonus.
San Francisco will receive lots of attention and will contend in 2013, meaning that a Hard Knocks segment on the 49ers would be a great way to attract viewers. People would love to see a behind-the-scenes look at the coach who added seven wins to San Francisco's record in one year, and casual fans would love to watch Kaepernick and the team prepare.
Unlike the 49ers, the Philadelphia Eagles were not a good team in 2012.
The Eagles lost 12 games in 2012, as their talented players didn't mesh well. Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Michael Vick were some of the Philadelphia players who failed to meet expectations in 2012, and two of them are now gone. The Eagles fired Andy Reid and hired Chip Kelly, and they drafted Lane Johnson to help the offensive line and Matt Barkley for quarterback help.
There will be an interesting quarterback controversy in Philadelphia, one that lots of Hard Knocks viewers would enjoy. Eagles fans are passionate, and a decent media market in Philadelphia with passionate fans would definitely bring in a lot of viewers. Casual fans may not be 100 percent into the segment, but the fact that there are a lot of position battles and that the Eagles received lots of attention in 2011 and 2012 should draw more than enough viewers.
Barkley, who completed 41 percent of his passes that traveled 20 yards or more in 2012, is a legitimate candidate for the starting quarterback job. He is familiar with Chip Kelly, and he is going to have attention-grabbing players around him on offense. In 2012, Michael Vick and Nick Foles were sacked a combined 48 times, but Lane Johnson, Philadelphia's first-round pick, could help change that.
LeSean McCoy is a top-tier running back, and DeSean Jackson is an electrifying option at wide receiver. The two have received a fair share of attention in their career, and it's safe to say that the Eagles will be hyped.
There will be lots of positions up for grabs, and team chemistry needs to be established. A series of in-depth Hard Knocks segments will give fans an idea of how the team chemistry is and how the position battles are turning out, which would definitely lure viewers to the show.
Even though Ray Lewis isn't on the Ravens, it's going to be very interesting to follow the defending Super Bowl champions.
The Ravens did win the Super Bowl, but that's not the only reason why people would tune into a Hard Knocks series about the Ravens. Baltimore added Elvis Dumervil and filled some holes through the draft, in addition to locking up Joe Flacco. Baltimore has a lot of playmakers, and the team came together to get the job done in 2012.
Watching how the defending champions prepare for the defense of their title would definitely lure viewers to the show. John Harbaugh established great chemistry within the organization, as the Ravens were like a band of brothers. The team went through a tough stretch in 2012, but Harbaugh kept them focused.
The end result was perfect for the Ravens, thanks to superior play and coaching.
Watching how the new additions fare will definitely be something to keep an eye on. Baltimore lost Anquan Boldin, Paul Kruger, Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Dannelle Ellerbe and Cary Williams, and there will be interesting position battles. The Baltimore-Washington D.C. area is a major media market, and anything involving the Ravens (and Redskins, for that matter) would garner tons of interest.
Harbaugh is a great coach, and similar to Jim Harbaugh, lots of people would tune in to watch how Baltimore's coach goes about his business. The fact that the Ravens won the Super Bowl would be enough to bring in a serviceable number of viewers, and separate storylines would make a series on the Ravens extremely interesting.
There likely wouldn't be as many viewers for a series about the Rams, but the show would still be very interesting.
St. Louis is still a fairly large media market, and the St. Louis Cardinals have a large fanbase. The Rams aren't one of the most notable teams in the NFL, but plenty of Rams fans and NFL fans would tune into a Hard Knocks series about the team. St. Louis did well in 2012 and is poised for a big 2013 campaign.
The Rams went 7-8-1 last year, and they are poised to make a playoff run this year. Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, two playmaking wide receivers with star potential, were drafted by the Rams. Sam Bradford threw 21 touchdowns and was intercepted 13 times in 2012, and bigger things are expected from him and passing offense with the addition of Austin and Bailey.
Jeff Fisher rebuilt a 2-14 team in just one year, and he has the Rams poised to do more. Watching Fisher behind the scenes and watching how Bradford develops chemistry with his new toys would interest a lot of fans, because the Rams will do well in 2013. Fisher has done a great job in St. Louis, and watching how he prepares his team would drive a healthy traffic to the show.
While casual fans would much rather see Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or other stars, the Rams deserve to be on the show. It's unlikely because there are other teams that would garner more interest, but a series on the Rams would be extremely interesting.
St. Louis is a complete team with a great pass-rush and a wealth of talent on offense, and Hard Knocks could do a great job at chronicling how the Rams will put their talent together.