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AFC North chosen for HBO’s in-season ‘Hard Knocks’ series; Steelers, Ravens, Bengals, Browns take center stage

USA Today

The NFL and HBO announced on Monday that the AFC North will be the subject of the revamped in-season series of “Hard Knocks.” The series first started to dive into an in-season edition in 2021 when they covered the Indianapolis Colts. Over the last two years, the Arizona Cardinals (2022) and the Miami Dolphins (2023) were the subjects of the in-season series. This is the first time that the program will chronicle an entire division. 

The AFC North is a logical choice for NFL Films and HBO. Not only do they boast four highly popular teams in the Steeles, Bengals, Browns, and Ravens, but each one of those clubs is coming off an above .500 season with three of them (Baltimore, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh) all reaching the postseason. 

“Last season the AFC North became the first division ever to have all four teams finish with a winning record, making it the perfect place to launch this new approach to ‘Hard Knocks,'” Keith Cossrow, NFL Films vice president and head of content, said in a statement. “We thank the Bengals, Browns, Ravens, and Steelers for the opportunity to showcase some of the greatest rivalries in football and present the intensity of a playoff chase from all four corners of this incredibly competitive division.”

On top of having highly competitive teams, each of these franchises boasts superstar players and high-profile coaches. Pittsburgh has head coach Mike Tomlin and a budding QB battle between Russell Wilson and Justin Fields, while the Ravens (the No. 1 seed a year ago) are led by head coach John Harbaugh and defending league MVP Lamar Jackson. In Cincinnati, Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase should headline their team, while the Browns have defending Coach of the Year Kevin Stefanski, quarterback Deshaun Watson, and defending Defensive Player of the Year Myles Garrett

The Ravens were the first-ever team featured on the series when they debuted its flagship training camp edition in 2001. The Bengals have been featured twice (2009 and 2013), while the Browns have been on once (2018). This is the first time the Steelers will be under the “Hard Knocks” spotlight. 

On top of this in-season series, “Hard Knocks” previously announced that the New York Giants are the subject of another spin-off where they are being featured in a five-part offseason docuseries. “Hard Knocks: Offseason with the New York Giants” debuts on July 2 and will run through July 30. Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears will be the focal point of their flagship training camp docuseries this summer, debuting on Aug. 6.   

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Author: Tyler Sullivan
June 17, 2024 | 2:10 pm

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