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Odds to Be Featured on “Hard Knocks” 2020: Steelers Heavily Favored, Cardinals Listed at +225

Jake Mitchell

by Jake Mitchell in NFL Football

Jan 3, 2020 · 3:13 PM PST

Steelers defense posing for a group photo after a return touchdown
The Steelers (-120) are the favorites to be featured on HBO's Hard Knocks in 2020. Photo by @fittypat21 (Instagram).,
  • The Pittsburgh Steelers (-120) are the favorites to be chosen for the 2020 season of HBO’s “Hard Knocks”
  • They lead a field that includes the Cardinals (+225), Jaguars (+450), Broncos (+600), and Lions (+700)
  • If chosen, this would be Pittsburgh’s first appearance on “Hard Knocks”

In a rare opportunity, the Pittsburgh Steelers are eligible to be chosen as the featured team on 2020’s season of HBO’s “Hard Knocks”. They are the odds-on favorite to be selected, leading a field of teams that includes the Arizona Cardinals (+225), Jacksonville Jaguars (+450), Denver Broncos (+600), and Detroit Lions (+700).

Odds to Be Chosen as “Hard Knocks” Team in 2020

Team Odds
Pittsburgh Steelers -120
Arizona Cardinals +225
Jacksonville Jaguars +450
Denver Broncos +600
Detroit Lions +700

Odds taken Jan 3.

The books got it right last year, when they predicted that Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders would be HBO’s selection for the show. The Steelers are the favorite this year, and all signs point to the books nailing it once again.

History Points to the Steelers

The last five seasons have seen “Hard Knocks” feature the Raiders (2019), Browns (’18), Buccaneers (’17), Rams (’16), and Texans (’15). Two of those teams, the Rams and Texans, come from two of the nation’s biggest markets in Houston and Los Angeles. Two others, the Raiders and Browns, have some of the league’s most passionate fan bases. That makes it four of the last five years in which the market and fan base was a significant factor.

Few fan bases are as passionate as the Steelers’ fan base. Television is all about ratings, and recent history points to the biggest and most-passionate fan bases. HBO has the final say on who’s featured, which only bolsters Pittsburgh’s case.

A Rare Opportunity for “Hard Knocks”

Not only is Pittsburgh the biggest brand among the contenders, but this is a rare chance to feature the Steelers on the show. For a team to be eligible for “Hard Knocks”, they must have not made the playoffs in the previous two seasons, they must have retained their head coach beyond his first year, and they must not have been on “Hard Knocks” in the previous ten seasons.

The Steelers have made the playoffs in 12 of the last 19 seasons. They’ve only missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons on one other occasion in that period. This is a great franchise, and they don’t often stay away from the postseason for long. They may not be eligible again in the near future.

Of course, should they miss the postseason again, that doesn’t guarantee that the Steelers will be eligible next season. Missing the playoffs could result in Pittsburgh moving on from head coach Mike Tomlin, and having a first-year head coach would disqualify the Steelers from the field.

This is likely the last chance that HBO will have to get the Steelers on the show, and it’s likely they’ll jump on that chance.

Is Pittsburgh the Best Bet?

At -120 odds, the Steelers don’t provide great value, but they’re the favorite for a reason. They are the biggest brand in the field of eligible teams, and this is a rare chance for HBO to grab them.

Arizona at +225 is an interesting underdog pick, given the intrigue of Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury entering their second season. However, at the end of the day, Pittsburgh is the pick.

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