The Buccaneers have more hype around them than any other team so far in the NFL offseason. Will they get the wins to back it up on their 2020 schedule?
Tampa Bay has brought the Patriots’ winning Super Bowl combination of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski together away from New England. They finished 7-9 last season for third place in the NFC South in Bruce Arians’ first year, but they were on the cusp of NFC wild-card contention. There’s an expectation that they can be much better and efficient with Brady.
The Bucs improved two games from their 5-11 mark in 2018 because of their improvement on defense. They were No. 1 against the run in the first year of Todd Bowles’ scheme thanks in big part to the addition of Ndamukong Suh. They also added Shaqull Barrett, who led the league with 19.5 sacks, to boost their pass rush in front of a secondary that’s still getting better.
The Saints have won the NFC South for three consecutive seasons and remain formidable foes. But all the momentum is with the Bucs to end that run with Brady and contend for much bigger things in the playoffs.
Here is a complete breakdown of the Buccaneers’ 2020 schedule, including dates, start times and analysis for all 16 games.
Buccaneers schedule 2020
- Home: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota Vikings
- Away: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Las Vegas Raiders, New York Giants
(The Buccaneers’ schedule will be released Thursday at 8 p.m. ET along with the entire 2020 NFL schedule.)
(For Canadian viewers, each game can be streamed on DAZN.)
As the Buccaneers throw it back to their most successful uniform look that culminated with a Super Bowl after the 2002 season, they also reconnect with their former NFC Central days with the NFC North on the schedule. Beyond their six games in the NFC South, their other outside division is the AFC West.
Brady will duel with Drew Brees and the Saints twice. He also will double up on Super Bowl rematches with Matt Ryan and the Falcons. As a bonus, he gets another head-to-head shot at the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers and Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, both at home.
Because of Brady, everything on the Bucs’ marquee is much higher and brighter than it normally would be. Tampa Bay has quickly turned into a premier prime-time draw for the NFL after being buried in non-national screening windows. There’s plenty of can’t-miss passing action to circle on the schedule.
Buccaneers strength of schedule & prediction
Based on their opponents’ combined 2019 records and winning percentage (128-127-1, .502), the Bucs are tied with the Colts for No. 16 hardest or easiest. When projecting how much better or how much worse their 2020 opponents will be, it’s a little more favorable.
The Panthers, Chargers and Rams make four games easier than expected. The Bucs are better equipped with Brady to beat teams such as the Broncos, Bears and Vikings.
Toughest tests: The Bucs already have it brutal with the Saints twice. But the Packers and Vikings, two more strong returning NFC playoff teams, also come to Tampa. Outside of the conference, the Chiefs also present a big challenge at home.
With last year’s model without Brady, those games would have been not just daunting, but unwinnable. Now with Brady backed by a loaded passing game and defense, the Bucs have a fighting chance to win every game on their slate.
Biggest breaks: The Buccaneers have plenty of these. In order, the Lions, Giants, Chargers and Bears are good chances to dominate in interdvision play. The Broncos and Raiders looked harder because of their improvements, but Brady’s arrival balanced that out. The Bucs also should have an edge over the Rams at home.
Inside the division, it’s almost a must to sweep both the Falcons and Panthers to have a real shot at dethroning the Saints.
Bottom line: The Buccaneers have become a much more dangerous team for every opponent on their schedule. Brady and Gronkowski wouldn’t be in Tampa Bay if it wasn’t the best place to keep up their division-winning history from New England.
After bringing in Brady to replace Jameis Winston as the passer to go-to guys Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and adding Gronk to a tight end booty that incudes O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate, the Bucs upgraded their weaknesses at running back, right tackle, No. 3 wide receiver and safety in the draft. It’s now hard to find any real holes for Arians, Bowles and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich.
The hype is real. The results can be spectacular. The Bucs should be consider mighty co-division favorites with the Saints, also making them threats to win the entire NFC.
Record prediction: 13-3