The NFL finally released the schedule for all 32 teams, including the Bucs on Wednesday night, two and half weeks later then normal.
For most Bucs fans it was worth the wait.
While no schedule can be considered easy, this was at least no 2019 total disaster by the league where it had the Buccaneers traveling from coast to coast and in between a trip across the Atlantic Ocean with a stop in London. After a home game against the New York Giants on Sept. 22, Tampa Bay didn’t play another game at Raymond James Stadium until Nov. 10. That was a span of six weeks between home games.
Bucs QB Tom Brady and HC Bruce Arians – Photo by: USA Today
Man, what did the Glazers ever do to you to make you hate them so much, Roger Goodell?
This year’s schedule is fairly balanced without any long stretches away from home and the majority of the NFC South divisional games are towards the end of the season.
The Bucs won’t go 17-0 most likely. No team has had a perfect season other than the 1972 Miami Dolphins, although the 2007 Tom Brady-led Patriots came within a miracle David Tyree catch away from a perfect 19-0 year.
While a perfect 20-0 season would be a monumental feat, is there any regular game the Buccaneers – as of right now – won’t be favored in?
A lot can change between now and the start of the season on September 9 when Tampa Bay hosts the Dallas Cowboys to kick off the 2021 season but I can’t see a game where the Bucs would be an underdog in?
Let’s take a quick peak at the regular season schedule and pretend we are working the sports books industry in Las Vegas.
Week 1: Cowboys
Will the Cowboys be better than they were last season? Well, it would be hard not to be. But the Bucs are way more talented and experienced. Bucs favored by 6
Week 2: Falcons
The Falcons have firepower on offense, but are a mess defensively. Plus, this is a home game with 10 days to prepare for. Bucs favored by 7
Week 3: at Rams
This one could be tough. But the Rams will be trying to get new QB Matt Stafford in sync in a new system. Bucs favored by 3
Week 4: at Patriots
Unless Bill Belichick sells his soul to the devil to get a win (which isn’t out of the realm of possibility), Tampa Bay should have no problems corralling Cam Newton – or rookie Mac Jones. Bucs favored by 3.5
Week 5: Dolphins
The Dolphins will be better in 2021, and they weren’t awful last year. But let’s see Tua Tagovailoa prove he can consistently win in the NFL and on the road. Bucs favored by 6.5
Week 6: at Eagles
The Eagles are a mess and will still be struggling to find their identity under new head coach Nick Sirianni. Bucs favored by 7
Week 7: Bears
Ah, a revenge game. Don’t think Tom Brady has forgotten about last year’s 20-19 loss at Solider Field. Bucs favored by 7.5
Week 8: at Saints
The Superdome at full capacity? Not usually a recipe for success. But the 2021 Saints aren’t the Saints of year’s past. Bucs favored by 3
Week 9: BYE
Fun fact: the Bucs have never lost to the bye. Bucs favored by 321
Week 10: at Washington
The WFT gave the Bucs all they wanted in the wild card last season, but Ryan Fitzpatrick will be 67 years old at kickoff. Bucs favored by 5.5
Week 11: vs. Giants
The Buccaneers played down to the Giants last year on Monday Night Football. It won’t happen again this season in Tampa. Bucs favored by 7.5
Week 12: at Colts
Honestly, I would be more concerned if Philip Rivers was still under center for Indianapolis than I am with Carson Wentz. Bucs favored by 3.5
Week 13: at Falcons
Maybe the Falcons will be better this late in the season. Or they could have already cashed it in. Regardless, Brady can throw up 31 points in the second half again if needed. Bucs favored by 5
Week 14: vs. Bills
Big-time opponent, big-time game and a big-time struggle. But I’ll take Brady, who has won 200 straight games – or something like that – over Buffalo. Bucs favored by 3
Week 15: vs. Saints
Remember 38-3 last year? Yes, it still stings this football team – make no mistake. The Bucs want the sweep. Bucs favored by 7
Week 16: at Panthers
Hey Matt Rhule, you do realize you could have had Justin Fields, right? By this point the second-guessing of Sam Darnold will be in full force. Bucs favored by 7.5
Week 17: at Jets
The biggest addition for the Jets this offseason might be head coach Robert Saleh. But Brady versus a rookie QB and Bruce Arians vs. a rookie head coach? You know how this ends. Bucs favored by 6
Week 18: vs. Panthers
Rhule is petitioning the NFL for a re-do in the draft. Is Deshaun Watson available yet? Bucs favored by 10
A couple significant injuries and a great team could be reduced down to struggling to even make the postseason. Look what happened to San Francisco last season – a year removed from a Super Bowl appearance. But if Tampa Bay manages to stay relatively healthy I can see the team being the favorites in all 17 regular season games. And maybe just maybe, make the surviving members of the 1972 Dolphins a little nervous as the season goes on.
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Table of Contents
• PewterReport.com’s Matt Matera made a great point on Wednesday night’s schedule release reaction podcast. While the Buccaneers will be facing a ton of talented quarterbacks in 2021, many of them will be either new to their team or rookies.
Bucs DC Todd Bowles – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Somewhere defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is salivating looking at Matt Stafford (new team), Mac Jones (rookie), Jalen Hurts (first year as full-time starter), Andy Dalton/Justin Fields (new team or rookie starter), Jameis Winston/Taysom Hill (first year as full-time starter), Ryan Fitzpatrick (new team), Carson Wentz (new team), Sam Darnold twice (new team) and Zack Wilson (rookie). That isn’t even taking into account the Falcons’ Matt Ryan learning a new system and Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa with just 10 NFL starts.
Some of these players will play above their heads while some will look like the inexperienced, lost-in-a-new scheme player, too. With Bowles in his third season as the defensive signal caller, with his full staff back, and all 11 starters returning for another season it is definitely advantage Tampa Bay.
• While the country appears to be on the road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, how the season plays out for the media who covers the team, is still up in the air. Last season none of us set foot inside One Bucs Place other than to get our temperatures checked in the lobby, to fill out a daily health assessment and get our contact tracing devices we all had to wear in order to attend training camp practices. Oh, and of course to get a daily swab up our noses.
New Bucs media work room – Photo courtesy of Greg Auman of The Athletic
But the media work room was completely off limits as the NFL mandated team meeting rooms be socially distanced and our media work room was converted into the quarterbacks meeting room. Sources with the team recently told me things are still undetermined this season and they are awaiting instructions from the league on if things will go back to normal this year. But at the moment no decisions have been made. We may end up back in a portable trailer again this year.
As far as the media work room being the QB room last year, I am pretty sure Tom Brady sat in my seat. What else could explain the season he had in his first year in Tampa Bay? Clearly the Cook mojo rubbed off on him. I do hope he didn’t plunder through the drawer in my desk however. Inside was a wig, a fake beard, a chef’s hat, a grass skirt, a coconut bra and an apron, just a few of the props I wore during my taping of What’s Cooking. If Brady did find those things he likely thinks I am some sort of psychopath or a bipolar cross-dressing school lunch lady who he avoids in 2021.
Sorry, Jon Ledyard 😂😂
This is your reminder that the Pittsburgh Steelers started the season 11-0 only to lose four of their last five five games and get embarrassed at home in the playoffs by the Cleveland Browns pic.twitter.com/ht4bPlKQoA
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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