On Saturday, the in-season Hard Knocks team the Miami Dolphins were knocked out of the playoffs by the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Dolphins were one of the biggest stories of the 2023 season, with an elite, dynamic offense dominating opponents. Miami is not only stacked offensively, but Mike McDaniel became a star this year in the NFL for his play calling, humor, and fashion.

The downfall of the Dolphins? They beat only one team with a winning record this year. And as a team built on speed, they weren’t built to win in frigid Kansas City in January, in the playoffs.

Some argue there’s a curse for teams who appear on Hard Knocks too, though.

Is there a Hard Knocks curse?

Miami played well while being part of the documentary series this season, starting 5-1. But, they fell off down the stretch, getting blown out by the Ravens and losing AFC East title game to the Bills. And they were one-and-done in the playoffs.

Rewind to preseason and the New York Jets were the featured team on Hard Knocks.

The Jets made sense as the featured team for many reasons.

First and foremost, they met the criteria to be on the show. Eligible teams are ones who don’t have a first-year head coach, haven’t been to the playoffs the last two seasons, and haven’t been on Hard Knocks the previous 10 years.

After meeting eligibility, New York was a good fit for the personalities, too. Aaron Rodgers has become a hot topic of his own thanks to conspiracy theory peddling on the Pat McAfee Show. But, even before he declared himself “immunized” in 2020 and went down a weird rabbit hole detached from reality, Rodgers was a must-see QB on the field.

There’s also that dominant defense, with stars like Sauce Gardner and Quinnen Williams, and Robert Saleh is definitely an interesting head coach.

But Rodgers was injured four plays into the season. And the Jets missed the playoffs yet again. Curse? Maybe.

Note on Hard Knocks “curse”: 7-of-19 teams who have appeared on Hard Knocks have made the playoffs that same season. However, none have won a Super Bowl.

Coaches, like players, connect with the audience through the show

Speaking of Saleh and Hard Knocks; coaches being able to show the world who they really are is a big deal for them. Saleh comes off as a bit of a hard ass compared to Dolphins head man McDaniel, but the Jets coach knows how to connect with his players in his own way.

He commands the locker room and his players step up for him. At least, they did in the preseason.

During the Dolphins in-season run on the show, McDaniel showed his incredible intelligence. Not only did he out-coach basically everyone this year, the dude went to Yale. He’s not just a football genius, though, there was a lot of footage of him connecting with offensive players, specifically Tua Tagovailoa.

Fans get so little sense of who their head coach is. They seem them on the sidelines, and some listen to coaches in press conferences. But even those press availabilities rarely reveal what they’re truly thinking, coaches keep things close to the chest.

And this year, Sean Payton has come under fire by Broncos Country after only his first season in the job.

Many in the national and local media called him a “bully” when the news came out of how he handled Russell Wilson and the quarterback’s contract. Oh, and the way he berated Wilson on the sideline of the Lions game.

Other critics believe the Broncos are worse off now with Payton than they would’ve been with another head coach. That Payton doesn’t adopt his offense to his players well enough and the game has passed him by.

Undoubtedly, Payton needs to revamp his public image. Hard Knocks could help with that.

Denver Broncos next up on Hard Knocks?

The Broncos are one of the most iconic franchises in the NFL. And yet, they’ve never been on the documentary series.

It’s not just the franchise’s history which makes Denver appealing, but the current personalities. There’s Payton, clearly, and seeing some interactions with general manager George Paton would be interesting as well.

And in the fallout of the Wilson benching news, Payton himself said he’d like the opportunity to show who he really is, saying:

“I think it’s part of the deal, and I understand it,” Payton said of criticism he faced for benching Wilson. “I get it. It’s the only thing that makes me once and a while want to do Hard Knocks. There’s a perception. That would be the only reason to get an inside look as to this whole ‘old school’ approach. Shoot, you don’t do this this long if you’re not adjusting, funny, creative — all those things. I think I am all those things.”

The league may also want to feature the Broncos due to their new ownership group which features the Waltons and Greg Penner running the show.

And there are certainly great personalities on the team, like Patrick Surtain, Justin Simmons, Garett Bolles, and more. Plus, watching how Payton handles a new quarterback, or how he works with Jarrett Stidham, will be must-see TV.

On top of all that, there aren’t many other teams who are eligible besides Denver. Chicago is, and so are the New Orleans Saints. The Commanders and Panthers would have been eligible, but both teams are moving onto new head coaches.

The team chosen to be featured on Hard Knocks is usually announced between the NFL Draft and late June, so stay tuned as this may be the Broncos’ year.