With the 2022 NFL schedule now being released, the Bucs are able to look ahead to the many top tier matchups that they have this upcoming season. Tampa Bay has five scheduled primetime games, which is the max allowed. They also are expected to have many nationally televised games, even if they aren’t “primetime.”
With that, let's take a look at five matchups that are some of the most exciting on this year’s slate of opponents.
Number 5: Week 8, Ravens vs Buccaneers. Thursday Night Football, 8:15 PM
We start this list with a very interesting matchup of two teams that are expected to be Super Bowl contenders this fall. Lamar Jackson vs Tom Brady under the bright lights of Raymond James Stadium. Does it get any better than that?
Baltimore had a down year last season, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2017 and finished fourth in the AFC North for the first time since 2007. Their 2021 season was largely derailed by numerous amounts of injuries to key parts on their team. They are now healthy and hope to get back on track, which should make this one exciting.
One thing that will be interesting to watch is to see how Todd Bowles will gameplan to contain Lamar Jackson. This will be the first time a Bowles led Bucs defense will face off against Jackson. Tampa Bay has played Jackson once before, but that was in 2018 with a different regime.
Jackson was held to only 131 passing yards and 1 touchdown, but he hurt the Bucs with his legs, piling up 95 rushing yards on 18 carries in a 20-12 Baltimore win. Bowles has never faced Jackson in his career, so it will be curious to see what the gameplan is to stop him.
Tom Brady has had some great moments against the Ravens in the past, but they have also given him some issues as well, defeating Brady in the 2012 AFC Championship game. Let's hope Brady is able to get the last laugh against Baltimore in this one.
Number 4: Week 15, Bengals vs Buccaneers. 4:25 PM
After just talking about an AFC North QB matchup, we get to talk about another one. Burrow vs Brady for the first time ever. For what feels like the first time in forever, Cincinnati can finally be taken serious as a contender. After losing Super Bowl 56 to Los Angeles, the Bengals are looking to prove to the NFL world that their magical run in 2021 was not a fluke.
While this game is not a primetime game, it will still likely be a nationally televised game and for good reason. Both teams are primed to be in playoff spots by this point in the year, making this a big-time matchup between the young superstar in Burrow vs the GOAT.
This game has all the makings of a shootout. Both offenses should be clicking on all cylinders by this point of the season, and it will be a fun one to watch. Getting to see Burrow and Brady battle it out to win this one will be very exciting to watch.
Number 3: Week 3, Packers vs Buccaneers. 4:25 PM
Again, another game that is not a primetime game, but will likely be nationally televised. The Packers come to town to face Tampa Bay for the first time since the Bucs defeated them in the NFC Championship game in 2020 season.
This is also the first time the Packers will be in Tampa since the Bucs whooped them in week 6 of the 2020 season, 38-10. Green Bay will now be looking for revenge while the Bucs will want to start the season off with a few signature wins under their belt.
The big storyline coming out of Green Bay is how will the loss of Devante Adams affect Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the offense? Adams is arguably the best receiver in football and losing him will hurt Green Bay immensely.
Now, even though they lost a key piece on offense, their defense is primed to have a really good season and could cause a lot of trouble for opposing teams. The Bucs face many early challenges early in the season, let's hope they can ruin the Packers day in Tampa yet again.
Number 2: Week 4, Chiefs vs Buccaneers. Sunday Night Football, 8:20 PM
Speaking of early challenges in the season... finally, a rematch of Super Bowl 55. Not only are the teams the same, but the last time these two faced off under the lights in RayJay, the Bucs had confetti falling down on them celebrating a Super Bowl championship.
Like the Packers, the Chiefs dealt away one of their key offensive weapons this offseason in Tyreek Hill, who gave the Bucs all types of issues when Kansas City came to the town in the 2020 regular season. Like Green Bay again though, the Chiefs figure to have an improved defense that could make things interesting.
This could be the final Mahomes vs Brady matchup and it should be a treat. This game is rightfully a primetime game and both teams will be highly motivated to come out with a W in this one. Time will tell if Brady defeats Mahomes one more time.
Number 1: Week 9, Rams vs Buccaneers. 4:25 PM
This had to be on the list, it was just a matter of when and where. Gotta admit, it was pretty tough to decide between Kansas City or Los Angeles for this spot, but LA takes it because the storylines write themselves.
The Rams are the one team that seem to have Tom Brady and the Bucs’ number over the last two years. They have lost three straight games to the Rams and while the final scores of two of those games were close, the actual games didn’t feel that way.
Suffering a three point defeat in 2020 in Tampa, a 10 point loss in Los Angeles in 2021 oh and yeah, this is the same Rams team that ended the Bucs season on a last second field goal in the divisional round in 2021. The Rams would go on to win the Super Bowl and now the Bucs look for their revenge.
Todd Bowles has also not done well against Sean McVay, consistently being out coached in those previous matchups. Even 2019 when the Bucs defeated the Rams, LA still had a lot of success on offense. If the Bucs want their revenge, the offense may have to step up and get the job done here. I have a feeling Brady and the Bucs will be plenty motivated to finally get over that hump.
So there you have it. It was honestly tough to narrow it down to five games since there are so many high profile matchups for Tampa Bay this upcoming season. There is a good chance that the Bucs could see one or more of the teams on their regular season schedule in the postseason. The team faces a lot of challenges this season but a Ric Flair would say, “To be the man you gotta beat the man!”
Let’s see if the Bucs can reach the mountain top once again this season.