We knew the Bucs would have a difficult schedule this season given their opponents. But now that the dates and times have been set, Tampa Bay has some really tough stretches. It starts right off the bat with a four-game gauntlet.
Two straight road games at Dallas and at New Orleans will be challenging, before coming home to face two of the top teams in the NFL. Matchups against Green Bay and Kansas City at home wrap up a difficult first quarter of the season. The schedule softens a bit with games against Atlanta, at Pittsburgh and at Carolina before resuming with back-to back difficult opponents in Baltimore and the L.A. Rams at home.
The bye week in Week 11 offers a bit of a reprieve after the Bucs’ game against the Seahawks in Munich, Germany. But not for long as they alternate games away and at home for the remainder of the season.
Still, if healthy, the Bucs are a more complete team then a majority of their opponents in 2022. There is a path where they could end up with one of the best records in football and a first-round bye. With that being said, here are my thoughts on the Bucs’ 2022 schedule.
The good news for the Bucs is that their toughest opponents are slated to play at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay has played extremely well at home over the last two seasons. The Bucs went 7-1 at home last year in the regular season, which set a new franchise record.
After a tough four-game stretch to start the season the Bucs schedule gets a bit easier. The combined winning percentage of opponents after Week Four is just .412. They also get their only soft spot of their schedule. With games against the Falcons at home, and the Panthers and Steelers on the road, the Bucs needs to stack wins here, and have a good chance to.
Two late West Coast trips to San Francisco and Arizona, including one on Christmas night round out the end of the schedule. Most players dislike cross-country trips and to be thrown out of their routine. Those two games accomplish both. Can’t think the team is thrilled about playing in the desert on Christmas night.
I understand why the league chose the Cowboys as the opponent to open the season with. It should be a Week 1 ratings bonanza. Although Tampa Bay kicked off the start of the 2021 season on Thursday Night Football against Dallas, the NFL pulled in 26 million viewers across all platforms. While their Sunday Night Football matchup likely won’t pull those numbers, “America’s Team” versus Tom Brady and the Bucs is a major draw.
Whew, that start! The Bucs season begins with a bang against three playoff teams and a heated division rival in New Orleans – on the road – no less. Brady has said in the past those first four games are the feeling out period for teams. Well, the Bucs better find their groove quickly or they could find themselves in an early hole.
Rotating from home and away every other contest down the home stretch is also less than ideal. Players don’t like to get out of their routine, and traveling every other week for the last seven weeks isn’t going to excite the men in pewter and red.