The NFL announced on Monday that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face the Carolina Panthers in London, England in 2019. The actual day and time for the game will be announced in April when the league announces the full 2019 regular season schedule. Tampa Bay is one of five teams playing in the NFL’s International Series this year.
The Buccaneers will be the de facto home team for the divisional match up, surrendering one of their games in Tampa for the upcoming year. Sports fans can visit BetAmerica for the latest gaming odds and information.
For the Panthers, this will be their first time participating in the NFL’s International Series while the Bucs have played two other international games – both in London – against the New England Patriots in 2009 and the Chicago Bears in 2011. Tampa Bay lost both contests and will be seeking its first win overseas in an international game.
The Bucs are coming off back-to-back 5-11 seasons, and will have a new coaching staff in place for 2019 under the leadership of Bruce Arians. Big changes are expected in Tampa Bay this year with the possibility of six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and wide receiver DeSean Jackson departing due to salary cap reasons. The Bucs are cap-strapped this year and releasing or trading McCoy would free up $13 million, while cutting or trading Jackson would save the team $10 million in salary cap space.
Led by Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans and quarterback Jameis Winston, who is in his fifth-year option with the team, Arians inherits one of the league’s top offenses, including the NFL’s top-ranked passing attack from 2018. The Bucs will need to sure up their running game, which was among the worst in the league, in 2019, and hope that last year’s second-round pick, Ronald Jones II, can rebound from an awful rookie season.
New Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles will be charged with the responsibility of fixing one of the worst defenses in the league in terms of passing yards allowed and points allowed, but he has some talent to work with in Pro Bowl alternate defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who led the team with 12.5 sacks, and linebacker Lavonte David. Pierre-Paul became the first Bucs defender to record double-digit sacks in a season since Simeon Rice last did it in 2005.
The Bucs will have to improve their secondary through free agency and possibly the draft to replace 35-year old veteran Brent Grimes, who departs after a down year in Tampa Bay.
Tampa Bay split last year’s series with Carolina, 1-1, losing on the road 42-28 before winning at home, 24-17. The Panthers swept the Bucs the previous season in 2017 and lead the overall series 23-14.
The Panthers are coming off a disappointing 7-9 season that began with a 6-2 record but featured seven straight losses before a 33-14 win against New Orleans in Week 17. That was enough to have Ron Rivera keep his job, but the Panthers will need help retooling their offensive line this offseason and bolstering their defense as long-time Carolina great Julius Peppers retired this offseason.