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HBO's Hard Knocks will feature Dallas Cowboys for third time; Playoff curse? Cowboys missed postseason first 2 times

The Dallas Cowboys will get the "Hard Knocks" treatment on HBO yet again.
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It can't be argued that the most popular team in the NFL both from a television ratings and betting action perspective is the Dallas Cowboys, whether you love or hate them. In really no surprise, it was announced Friday that the Cowboys would appear this summer on HBO's excellent "Hard Knocks" show for a third time. That could be bad news for Dallas' playoff chances as it missed the postseason when it was featured on the show the previous two times. At William Hill Sportsbook, the Cowboys are -170 to make the postseason this year and +145 to miss.

In 2002 when the Cowboys were on the show the first time, they were coming off a 5-11 mark the year before and would again finish 5-11. A big story line in 2002 was that it was to be Emmitt Smith's final year in Dallas, although he would end up playing two more bad seasons with Arizona.

The 2007 Cowboys were 13-3 and won a division title, but after being featured on the 2008 show, that team finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs. Adam "Pacman" Jones was a big story of that training camp.

There used to be this theory of a "Hard Knocks" curse and missing the playoffs – last year, both Los Angeles teams were featured during the pandemic. The Rams reached the postseason and Chargers didn't. Prior to the 2020 Rams, no team had finished with a winning record the summer it was featured on "Hard Knocks" since the 2015 Houston Texans, who finished 9-7 and won the AFC South.

Because Dallas and Pittsburgh are playing in this year's Hall of Fame Game to kick off the preseason on Aug. 5, they are allowed to open training camp earlier than the other 30 teams. Dallas will hold camp in Oxnard, Calif., with the first practice July 22. The Cowboys also play in the first regular season game, the Kickoff Game on Sept. 9 at reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay, which is -6.5 on the NFL odds.

Dallas was one of five eligible teams for "Hard Knocks" this year, meaning the club could be forced to participate. The others were the Broncos, Panthers, Giants and Cardinals. Denver would have been wildly interesting had it acquired Aaron Rodgers, but that now seems unlikely.

Since 2014, teams are not required to be included as potential "Hard Knocks" participants if they 1.) have a first-year head coach, 2.) have made the playoffs in the last two seasons, or 3.) have appeared on the show in the past 10 years.

"Hard Knocks" debuts on Tuesday, Aug. 10 also on HBO Max.

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