Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowksi are Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Yes, that is a factual statement in the year 2020 that at times still doesn’t seem real. And it has been the biggest news thus far in the NFL offseason.
There is more that comes with it than just an X’s and O’s standpoint when talking about Brady and Gronkowski’s arrival in Tampa Bay. Brady has won six Super Bowls in his career, which is the most all time by a starting quarterback in NFL history. He’s been dubbed by many as the greatest of all time due to that accomplishment. Gronkowksi is a three-time Super Bowl champion and became one of the greatest players at his position.
TE Rob Gronkowski and QB Tom Brady – Photo by: Getty Images
Brady and Gronkowski are present day legends and future Hall Of Famers. Their legacy in the NFL has crossed over into being pop culture celebrities to the point that even those who pay no attention to football know who they are. As a result, the Bucs will garner a lot more national attention because of their celebrity status this year.
After my initial reactions to Brady coming to the Bucs and how he’ll impact the team as a player and leader, I then had another thought – how many prime time games will the Bucs have this season?
Then just a month later, the Bucs traded for Gronkowski, and the answer to that question may have changed.
The Bucs haven’t really been seen under the bright lights of a national TV audience much over the past couple of years. They’ve played in four prime time games over the last three seasons with three of them coming on Thursday Night Football. Brady alone played in five prime time games during the 2019 season.
Exactly how many prime time games will they play? The schedule won’t be announced until later this week, but we already know who Tampa Bay will be playing against. So before we answer that question, let’s take a look at the Bucs’ 2020 opponents, shall we?
Bucs Home Games
Right off the bat there are four games that come to mind and they all have to do with the quarterback match-up. Outside of the division, Brady and Tampa Bay will face Kansas City and Patrick Mahomes and Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers, which are some ideal nationally televised games. Then inside the NFC South division, Brady and the Bucs have two other superstar match-ups with Drew Brees and the Saints, and Matt Ryan and the Falcons.
Falcons QB Matt Ryan and Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: Getty Images
You have to imagine that at least one match-up with Brady vs. Brees will happen on Sunday Night Football or Monday Night Football, plus a minimum of either Mahomes or Rodgers should find its way into prime time, too.
There are a couple dark horses as well for the possibility of a prime time game. The Raiders could be in play with the Gruden factor, as Pewter Report’s own Scott Reynolds wrote about in January. Brady also has history with the Giants after playing them twice in the Super Bowl, and has played in MetLife Stadium each season against the Jets.
There could also be an interesting dynamic about Brady playing both of the Los Angeles teams since he defeated the Rams in the Super Bowl two seasons ago, and the Chargers were the last team standing in the Brady sweepstakes aside from the Bucs.
There are two more elements that can be added for further context before predicting the number of nationally televised night games for Tampa Bay. One is the Brady factor, which was previously mentioned, and the other, surprisingly enough, is the Cleveland Browns.
If you recall, the Browns were the team with the most hype last offseason after making a series of moves that included trading for Odell Beckham, Jr. Everyone was talking about them and the NFL gave Cleveland four prime time games in 2019. However, the Browns faltered with a 6-10 record and didn’t live up to expectations.
Could the NFL learn from this and not put all of their eggs into one team’s basket this time around? The Bucs are the talk of the town this year, but I don’t think the NFL would pass up the opportunity for ratings, especially given the career status of Brady, Gronkowski and company.
Because of the NFL schedule flex, the Packers and Steelers ended up playing the most prime time games with six. It’s something to keep in mind, but can’t be determined until later on in the year as the wins and losses begin to mount for each team.
Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: Getty Images
There’s another twist in this whole thing that could happen in a scenario where some of those star studded quarterback match-ups happen on Fox’s “America’s Game Of The Week.” This is the 4:15 game on Fox with broadcasters Joe Buck and Troy Aikman in the booth. And even though those games have a national audience that gives the feel of more prominence than a regular Sunday afternoon game, it technically isn’t prime time.
If I’m putting money on it, I’d say the Bucs get on prime time five times with games against the Saints, Packers, Chiefs, Falcons and a miscellaneous team, such as the Chargers for the fifth spot, with an additional game on America’s Game Of The Week.
To get a pulse on what others thought, I went to Twitter again and put up a poll that had over 700 votes. And after the final count, the predictions have also gone for four games with a whopping 47 percent.
Since everyone’s in the voting mood today with the #Bucs media bracket, I’ll bring up this question again and put it to a poll like some have suggested.
How many primetime games will the Bucs play this year?