We’re just a couple of days away from seeing the 2021 NFL schedule for all thirty-two teams, and it should all start with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home in Week 1.
If traditions hold firm, then the Bucs will play Thursday night of the opening week, and the opponent will be a good one.
Monday morning Scott Smith, senior writer and editor of Buccaneers.com, dropped a column identifying three potential match-ups for Tom Brady and the defending champs to open with. In his writing, he identified the New Orleans Saints, Buffalo Bills, and Chicago Bears.
“I’m strongly assuming the Bucs’ Week One opponent will be a 2020 playoff team,” Smith wrote. “A rematch would be ideal, but there’s only one likely candidate, as Green Bay and Kansas City are not on Tampa Bay’s 2021 schedule and the Bucs will play Washington on the road. There are three 2020 playoff teams on the Bucs’ 2021 docket: Buffalo, New Orleans and Chicago. So you can see where I’m going with this.”
Barring an unprecedented move by the NFL to force the New England Patriots into a road game versus the Bucs when they’re scheduled to host them, these three match-ups seem to be the most likely.
In fact, on our Monday episode of the Locked On Bucs Podcast James Yarcho and I discussed this very topic, only we predicted all seventeen games and not just the first.
While Yarcho went with the New Orleans Saints I chose the Buffalo Bills, largely for the reasons Smith laid out in his own column. Great minds, they say.
Could the Chicago Bears be a darkhorse here? I suppose. Justin Fields opening his career against Tom Brady certainly adds a little extra seasoning to it, but honestly, there isn’t much there in a Bears and Buccaneers match-up.
The Saints coming in as defending NFC South champions, however, and with former Tampa Bay number one pick Jameis Winston presumably as their starting quarterback, brings a lot of heat. How much will the national audience care about this in Winston’s second year away from the Bucs? That’s the big question.
An opening week match-up between the Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers though brings a little bit of everything. There’s the AFC East champion team facing their nemesis in Brady once again. Josh Allen and his team getting one game away from playing this Bucs team in Super Bowl LV. Oh, and the fact a lot of Bills people have probably been thinking, ‘We could’ve put up more than nine points...’ since early February.
And then there’s this tweet, sent Monday afternoon by Jordan Moore of Spectrum Bay News 9...
Hearing the Patriots will play the Bucs on Thanksgiving and the Bucs will open the 2021 NFL season against the Bills. Going to electric— Jordan Moore (@iJordanMoore) May 10, 2021
So who will the Tampa Bay Buccaneers face to open 2021? It seems like a three-horse race, but really might be down to two.
How should the Buccaneers open 2021?
This poll is closed
vs. New Orleans Saints
vs. Buffalo Bills
vs. Chicago Bears