After the annual NFL Schedule reveal, the Buccaneers received their schedule for the 2021-22 season, where they will play in five primetime matchups and have a bye week in week nine.
With the dates, times, and matchups all set, AllBucs has decided to dive deeper into the schedule, exploring some of the most notable matchups in the new look 17 game slate.
What is the toughest stretch of games Tampa will face?
Tampa will have a couple of stretches of tough games, starting with a road trip to Los Angeles in week three, following with a trip to Foxborough as Tom Brady will face his former team. After two away games, Tampa will return home to face a young, energized Miami Dolphins team in week six.
In December, the Buccaneers will face the Buffalo Bills and the New Orleans Saints in back-to-back weeks before taking a trip to Charlotte to face NFC South foe Carolina.
What is the most important regular-season game?
It is always tough to nail down one specific game to look at, but week three against the Rams will be a matchup that will tell a lot about both teams. Last year, the Rams squeaked out a close win in Tampa on Monday Night Football, topping the Bucs 27-24. The matchup boasts two of the league's top offenses and best defenses, as the Rams have upgraded at the quarterback position going from Jared Goff to Matthew Stafford.
If not Bucs-Rams in week three, I would also highlight the second Bucs-Saints matchup on December 19th. The heated NFC South Rivalry saw New Orleans take both regular-season matchups in 2020, although Tampa Bay got the upper hand in the NFC Divisional round.
In the second matchup of 2020, the Buccaneers were embarrassed in front of the entire country, losing 38-3 in one of the worst losses in franchise history. Typically the second matchup of inter-division foes is closer, as both teams have already had one matchup to adjust to their opponent.
What is the most intriguing regular-season game?
Although the popular pick is Patriots vs Bucs in week four, I'm going to have to say the Bills-Bucs in week 14.
To see Josh Allen and Tom Brady face-off will be a sight, especially late in the season. I'm all for watching two of the best quarterbacks in the league battle it out, and Allen is a budding star with plenty of weapons in Stefon Diggs, Emmanuel Sanders, Dawson Knox, and Cole Beasley. Facing a high-powered offense late in the season will prepare Tampa for the playoffs, and will show where two of the top teams in the league stand.
We do not want to tip our cap too early as AllBucs plans to release game-by-game predictions, but I expect a similar season like 2020, finishing with five or so losses. Although the record may not change much, I do expect the Buccaneers to compete for the NFC South title more than they did in 2020. Although Tampa Bay won the Super Bowl, the Bucs had to sneak into the playoffs through a Wild Card spot after the New Orleans Saints took the NFC South division.
With a Super Bowl roster returning, the Buccaneers will have their work cut out for them as the target on their backs grew even larger this offseason.