NFL Nation: NFL Films

We first told you back in March that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were getting strong consideration to be the team featured in this summer’s edition of HBO’s “Hard Knocks."

Well, it looks like that’s getting closer to being a reality. No deal has been agreed to yet, but Scott Reynolds reports that the show has been offered to the Buccaneers and it’s up to the Bucs to decide if they want to take all the good and the bad that comes with opening all your doors, windows and closets to NFL Films for more than a month.

As I pointed out in this post back in March, there are all sorts of good and bad things that can come with something like this. It could help boost the profile a young team that appears to be rising but still is having trouble selling tickets. It also could put coaches and players into spots that could portray them in a negative light.

In this story, Rick Stroud has more on the pros and cons of appearing on “Hard Knocks." He caught up with Herm Edwards, who was coaching Kansas City when the Chiefs were featured on the show. Edwards does a nice job explaining the good and the bad sides.

Of course, the labor situation could make this all a moot point. If there is no training camp, there won’t be a new edition of “Hard Knocks." But that’s out of Tampa Bay’s control.

The Bucs have to make a big decision as an organization on this one. There’s little doubt the exposure would be beneficial. But the other thing they have to be willing to accept is the fact that, if they sign off on this, things will be out of their control.

The camera crews will be free to capture everything. The Bucs, like any NFL team, have some wonderful things going on and personalities like coach Raheem Morris and quarterback Josh Freeman could really shine in this environment. But, like any other NFL team, the Bucs also have some things and players that may not come across in a positive light.

They’ve got to put it all on a scale and ultimately decide if the good outweighs the bad.
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Continuing our silly introduction of rock-inspired music selections, I've got Robert Tepper's "No Easy Way Out" running through my head Sunday morning. (Surely you saw Rocky IV).

For Chicago, there is no easy way out on the final Sunday of the regular season. To win the NFC North, the Bears need to beat a tough team in Houston and hope Minnesota loses at home to what likely will be a watered-down New York Giants team. If not, the Bears know they can clinch a wild-card spot only if they win Sunday, combined with losses by Tampa Bay and Dallas.

The Vikings, on the other hand, do have an easy way out. They could still win the division if they lose to the Giants, as long as the Bears lose to Houston. And wouldn't that be some way to end another year of bizarre occurrences in the Black and Blue.

I'll be at the Metrodome in a few hours and will keep my best to keep you up to date on the happenings in Houston as well. Figures to be a wild day, and thanks in advance for spending part of it with us.

For now, let's take a spin around the division:

  • Today we'll find out if the Vikings are winners, writes Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune. "The Vikings' failure to beat the Giants today not only would be a disappointment for a franchise whose simplest path to the playoffs would be a victory, it also could saddle Brad Childress' team with the reputation of not being able to get over the hump."
  • Tom Powers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press has no problem if the Vikings back in to the playoffs: "Through the back door, through the front door, down the chimney or up through the sewer pipe, does anyone really care how the Vikings get into the playoffs?"
  • Bears coach Lovie Smith is better in this type of situation than Childress, writes David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune.
  • Smith's trust in defensive coordinator Bob Babich will be tested in Houston, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times.
  • Nick Hut of the Northwest Herald wonders how Bears left tackle John St. Clair will fare against Texans defensive end Mario Williams.
  • Green Bay receiver Greg Jennings surpassed Donald Driver as the Packers' top receiving threat this season, writes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  • Packers running back Ryan Grant has surpassed the 1,000-yard mark but doesn't consider it an accomplishment, writes Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal. "No. No. No. No," Grant said.
  • Interesting angle: Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press asks Steve Sabol of NFL Films how he will come up with a highlight video of the Lions' 2008 season.
  • Retired executive Ron Wolf will not join the Lions this winter, writes Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com.

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