Schedules can play a big part in how a season goes for any NFL team. An early bye week can crush a team that needs rest while a late bye week can give you a midseason break to rest up for the playoffs. Playing against the abysmal NFC West is a nice way to pad your win total while playing the AFC East (or NFC South for those not in it) can lead to more of an uphill battle. And of course, home and away splits do matter.
I quickly glanced at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers schedule, and while I've looked at it about three dozen times in the last two weeks I didn't notice a few things. The first is the Bucs open with five of their first seven games at home, with the only roadies being the Vikings and 49ers (West Coast alert). That sets up with a chance at a nice early run if we can get by Megatron (no 2010 flashbacks please) and go 1-1 with the Saints and Falcons. Of course, that many games at Raymond James Stadium early on means the road trips are in full force at the end of the year. The Bucs with six of their last 9 games on the road, including three of their last four. Now, the road games are Saints and Falcons (dome), Jaguars (same weather as here), Packers (early November, should avoid nasty weather), Titans (should be fine), and Carolina (could be cold, but certainly worse places to be). A hot start of 5-2 could mean a tough finish is ahead with a young team going on the road.
Of course, a hot start is what we need to help weather (no pun intended) those late road games. All in all, it's too early to say if the schedule is for us or against us, just another variable to keep in mind as the season gears up in less than a week.