In a stark contrast to this years league-toughest schedule the Bucs fell into where only 3 teams had losing records last year, next years tally features only three teams with WINNING records, and depending on how Cincinnati and Pittsburgh play next year, could turn into only two. As it happens, its the NFC South's turn to play the weak NFC West, and for the two open slots each year, the Bucs pulled in the two equally standing last place teams from the NFC East and North.
This gets the Bucs a home game against the Detroit Lions, and an away game at Washington, where the Bucs almost got their first win this season.
Since the re-alignment took place in 2002, each team in a division plays each team in their own division twice in a home and away arrangement, then rotating schedules vs. the other divisions in both conferences.
In 2010, the Bucs will play the teams in the NFC West, and the AFC North; where only the Cincinnati Bengals are assured a winning record. Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens are 8-7 and could go .500. The Arizona Cardinals are guaranteed to have a winning record, and the Bucs will play their first game in University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale,AZ.
The Bucs play Home and Away games vs fellow NFC South teams, where the Saints are guaranteed a winning record, and Atlanta's fate is in our own hands. The Bucs play the following in division schedule;
Away @ Atlanta, @ New Orleans, @ Carolina
Home vs. Atlanta, vs. New Orleans, vs. Carolina.
Then the entire NFC South division opponents play the NFC West and North
Home Vs Seattle, Vs San Francisco, Vs Pittsburgh, Vs Cleveland
Away @ St.Louis Rams, @ Arizona, @ Baltimore, @ Cinncinati
Then the two at large games that depend on place you finish in your division...
Away @ Washington, Home Vs Detroit
The Dates and Times are not announced until later in the spring. As for the last time we played these other non-division games; Seattle and Washington played us this year, we had an early lead in Washington and just barely lost, and we beat Seattle just two weeks ago.
We beat Detroit in Detroit in 2008 after falling behind 17-0, and we beat the St. Louis Rams in week 3 of the 2007 season when Cadillac fumbled the ball a few times and Jon Gruden let Earnest Graham run the ball, and he ran all over the Rams. The Bucs beat Arizona also in 2007 when at the end of the game a D-lineman pushed the ball through the QB and Joey Galloway was the safety guy saying "Whoa what is this thing coming at me???".
Bucs were shut out by Baltimore game one of the 2006 season, and beat Cincinnati also in 2006 when Gradkowski hit Clayton on a last second pass that had to be reviewed and overturned! Then their kicker missed wide on a 62-yard FG attempt. The Bucs beat the Browns in week 15 of the 2006 season, when QB Tim Rattay got the start after that amazing comeback attempt over the Bears the previous week. The last time the Bucs played the Steelers was the embarrassing loss in Pittsburgh when Jon Gruden went for a FG with seconds left to avoid a shutout instead of going for a TD.
DRAFT ALERT: Right now, the Bucs are guaranteed to have at least the 6th pick, and could still get the third pick in the draft.