We’ve already seen some leaks floating around the interwebs ahead of the NFL releasing the schedules for all 32 NFL teams Thursday evening. So take it all with a grain of salt as they start popping up more and more.
Now, like previous years, you’ll have some folks releasing the schedule by individual weeks as they get them in. And when they do, will the Bucs have any primetime games?
It’s easy to say no. Following a 5-11 season, who can blame the NFL for placing them on a national stage? Truth be told, we know they will have at least one Thursday night game. But so will the Browns.
Base on their record, we can kind of predict what the Bucs will be scheduled for. Their previous years can also shed some light on how they may be scheduled because of similar records.
In 2016, Tampa Bay had three primetime games following a 6-10 record the year before (Sunday, Monday, and Thursday). In 2014, following a 4-12 record, they had one primetime game — on Thursday night. In 2013, after a 4-12 campaign the year prior, the Buccaneers had a Monday night and a Thursday night game.
So continuing on that recent pattern, we can say the Bucs will have at least two games in primetime. However, with the way they played closing out 2017 and the offseason they’ve had, I’ll say they will have four games on the national stage.
With that said, the Bucs will host two games at Raymond James Stadium on primetime — a Thursday night game against the New Orleans Saints and a Sunday night game against the Philadelphia Eagles. On the road, they’ll play the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football and Carolina on Sunday night.
They’ll have some late afternoon games, too. The obvious one will be against the San Francisco 49ers and I can see the other being against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
As for the season opener, they can host the Cleveland Browns or the league can send them to New York to face the Giants.
The primetime predictions may be a bit too optimistic for some, but on paper the Bucs have an interesting team. If the league schedule makers feel the same way, we can see something similar to the predictions noted here.