While it is often reiterated to the press so often that it seems like a cliche, it is the absolute truth to say that the NFL has something going on the entire year. This week, just a week before teams head to Texas to make their respective draft picks, the schedules were released for all 32 NFL teams. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers schedule, like all teams, has some really difficult patches that will truly test the mettle of the Bucs squad.
To begin the season the Bucs have quite the gauntlet: Week 1 they travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints, then in weeks 2 and 3 they’ll take on the top-level Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers. It goes without saying that the Eagles are last year’s champion, and taking them on at home early in the season will be a serious bellwether for how much of a contender this years Bucs team will be. Interestingly, the Bucs will only have on Monday night game this season — and that will be the aforementioned Week 2 contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Tampa fans have every right to feel a little irked at the lack of Monday night and nationally televised game, as while they may not have been a top team last year they do have an exciting squad to watch. Additionally, the Bucs bye week comes extremely early in the season (during Week 5) which means they’ll have a long stretch of football every Sunday to close out the year.
Of course, with injuries and trades and draft picks still to come it is impossible to determine exactly how difficult the Bucs schedule is going to be when the season starts. Still, by using last year’s records we can get a semi-accurate gauge of the road ahead. According to For The Win (a blog on USA Today) the Bucs have the 4th toughest schedule in all of football
. Only the Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints, and Green Bay Packers are projected to have a more difficult slew of opponents.
As excitement builds and we grow closer to things like the draft and training camps, Bucs fans are rightfully beginning to feel the excitement build. While the schedule release may be merely a tiny morsel in the long NFL offseason — at least it is something to hold us over!