THIS IS IT!
July marks the last full month of 2019 in which we won’t have some form of witnessing the Buccaneers on the football field, be it training camp, pre-season, or the regular season, there will be some form of Buccaneer football at least once a week even if it’s on the practice field.
Heading into the training camp period, it gives us the perfect opportunity to look over the upcoming schedule to not only start predicting what games we think the Buccaneers will win, but also what games we’ll be making the trek to attend or what games we’ll simply catch on the television. We start dissecting which games we think will be worth spending the money on, an we’ll start guessing which games will be better watched with a bottomless pitcher of Bud Light.
Before we’ve even had the chance to really study the schedule, CBS Sports has already put their spin on the upcoming season and decided that the Buccaneers will have the 6th easiest schedule in the NFL, the 3rd easiest schedule in the NFC, and the easiest schedule in the NFC South. According to CBS Sports, they used their own formula based on what they calculated using their own chosen criteria including strength of schedule, home and away games, how tough they personally view the opponent, and certainly other criteria that they’ve chosen not to share.
What they failed to calculate into their formula, or at least what they failed to disclose as being part of that formula, are things such as coaching changes, stretches of travel, and certain intangibles such as so called revenge games or long term rivalries. There’s no methodology one would use without including these things, in which they could possibly expect to have an accurate picture of what to expect in regards to a team’s upcoming schedule. When we take a full look at the Buccaneer’s 2019 schedule, we start to see that it’s not as easy of a schedule as CBS would want their readers to believe.
The season starts out about as easy as a team could hope, as they open against the San Francisco 49ers, followed by a chance to get a divisional game out of the way extremely early, and finish up the first three games against the New York Giants who are obviously not the same team they were just a few short seasons ago. It’s easy to see why one would call the first three games an easy stretch, although a divisional game is never easy, and certainly not when it’s against Cam Newton, a Christian McCaffrey that appears to have almost doubled in size, and a recent departure from the Buccaneers in Gerald McCoy. While the Panthers game could do either way, it’s quite possible that we see the Bucs jump out to a 3 -0 or 2-1 start to the season.
That early start however, will be VERY short lived, as they then start the longest road stretch in the NFL as the Bucs will play 5 straight games away from Raymond James Stadium including two trips to the West Coast, and a trip to London. During that stretch, they will face off with the Los Angeles Rams, the New Orleans Saints, the Panthers again, another trip out West to Seattle, and one of the toughest defenses in the Tennessee Titans. Every team eventually makes a trip to London, so that’s not out of the ordinary, and certainly not something the Buccaneers aren’t used to, but to travel over 20,000 miles in just a little over a month is completely unheard of.
That 5 game stretch alone, should be enough to put the Bucs into the category as one of the toughest schedules, but just in case it doesn’t, the schedule makers weren’t done just yet. Upon returning home, they’ll enjoy a one game break as they face Bruce Arians’ old team, the Arizona Cardinals, which should provide an easy win, but again, it will be short lived as they then have back to back divisional games followed by two more of the top defensive teams in Jacksonville and Indianapolis.
After finishing up their second stretch of some extremely tough games, the Bucs finish up the regular season against Detroit, Houston, and ending it with another divisional game against the Atlanta Falcons. The only upside to the final 4 games of the season, are that three of them will be played at Raymond James Stadium, a place that will feel like a long lost friend after the craziness of the season.
The season will include almost 50 straight days away from Raymond James Stadium, more than 20,000 miles traveled in a little over a month, six divisional games against Drew Brees, Cam Newton, and Matt Ryan, 4 games against the AFC South which last season all proved to be top 10 defensive teams, the crazy time change that comes with playing in London, former Buccaneer players in Kwon Alexander, Gerald McCoy, and Adam Humphries, the former team of the new head coach, and all without one of the key defensive pieces in JPP.
CBS Sports Radio (the radio version of the same people that claimed the schedule is extremely easy) commented when the schedules were released and declared “The NFL schedule screwed the Bucs so badly it’s crazy”, and the NFL schedule makers themselves admitted they screwed up with Mike North, the NFL’s senior director of broadcast planning and scheduling admitting that he would have loved another shot at putting their schedule together, and that it wasn’t fair to Buccaneer fans saying
“If we had to do-over, if we had a redo, I’d love to take another shot at that Tampa Bay schedule,” North said on SiriusXM NFL Radio’s Late Hits. “I’m not sure that’s really fair to their fans. I’m hopeful that we didn’t do something to the Buccaneers that they feel like was really unfair.” and “I know we’re not allowed to root for anybody, but I’m kind of rooting for the Buccaneers through October.”
If the NFL admits they screwed up the Buccaneer’s schedule so badly that they want a chance to redo it, and CBS Sports Radio admits the Bucs got screwed so bad that it’s crazy, and millions of Buccaneer’s fans around the world are in agreement that the schedule is just this side of being Charlie Sheen crazy, can it really be declared as one of the easiest schedules, or is CBS Sports simply running short on material and chose the Buccaneers as the target of their latest misguided methodology?