The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are this year’s featured team on Hard Knocks. Teams are often concerned that HBO’s popular behind-the-scenes series will be a distraction.

Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said, “This is the NFL. There are bright lights,” when asked if the show would be detrimental to the team’s preparation. It is true, teams are used to the attention that comes with playing the most popular sport in America.

Six of the last seven squads to appear on Hard Knocks have equaled or improved their season record from the year before and four made the playoffs. 

A case can be made that the show is not a distraction but those results focus on the regular season, when the cameras are gone. There is some evidence that teams struggle in the preseason during the filming of the show.

Since 2007, teams featured on Hard Knocks have gone 13-23 against-the-spread in the preseason, -10.97 units. Those same teams in the year before participating on the series, when there weren’t distractions of the tv crews, went 17-19 ATS (-2.49 units) in the preseason. The season after Hard Knocks the teams have gone 16-17 ATS, -2.17 units.

The results for the preseason before and after the show are very similar. This is a small sample but it appears teams on Hard Knocks perform worse against-the-spread in the preseason.

If you faded each team on the show since 2007 you would be 23-13 (63.9%) ATS, +9.33 units.

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