Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Breaking down Bucs' 2017 schedule

RECOMMENDED READING


TAMPA — The Bucs' 2017 schedule includes two high-profile games in prime time against last season's Super Bowl teams, with Tom Brady and the defending champion Patriots coming to Tampa on a Thursday in Week 5 and the Bucs hosting the Falcons in a huge Monday night showdown the week before Christmas.

The Bucs open their second season under coach Dirk Koetter on Sept. 10 at Miami. In all, Tampa Bay's schedule, announced Thursday, is unusually skewed, with home games bunched early and late in the year. Three of the first five games are at home, as are three of the last four, creating a tough stretch in the middle of the season with just two home games over 66 days.

The NFC South has sent its champion to the Super Bowl in each of the past two seasons, and if the Bucs are to challenge for the division title this year, they'll need a strong finish. They have three division games to finish the season: against Atlanta on Dec. 18, a Christmas Eve game at Carolina and a season finale at Raymond James Stadium on New Year's Eve against New Orleans.

The Bucs have no division games until Week 9, with all six in the final nine games.

The biggest challenges? Jameis Winston will face a pair of quarterbacks with multiple Super Bowl wins in five days: The Giants and Eli Manning come to Tampa on Oct. 1, and the Patriots and Brady follow on Oct. 5, with a national audience on CBS. What immediately follows is a run of three road games in four weeks, going to Arizona and Buffalo, then home against the Panthers and back on the road to New Orleans for a lap around the country in 22 days.

The Bucs will face seven playoff teams from 2016, four of them in four straight weeks starting in late November: at the Falcons, at the Packers, versus Lions and versus Falcons.

The schedule has some favors for the Bucs. They get their bye week far later than in recent years, in Week 11, giving them an extra week to prepare for a crucial game at Atlanta. They have three extra days to prepare before their longest road trip of the year, to Arizona, where they lost 40-7 last season.

A week after they play at Atlanta, the Bucs will likely face chilly weather as they go to Green Bay to face Aaron Rodgers and the Packers on Dec. 3. How cold might that be? Green Bay had a home game on Dec. 4 last season, and it was 32 degrees at kickoff. The Bucs are 1-10 in Green Bay when the temperature is 48 degrees or lower.

The other potential cold-weather game is at Buffalo, where the Bucs have played just once in their 41 years. But the weather should be a milder on Oct. 22.

Want a reunion? Former Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon, who left as a free agent this offseason, gets a homecoming fast. His new team, the Bears, are Tampa Bay's first home game, in Week 2.

The schedule doesn't have the larger national platform many had thought the Bucs might have. They have just one Monday night game and no Sunday night games (some games later in the season can be flexed to prime time), and in all, 12 of their 16 games have 1 p.m. kickoffs, which draw smaller audiences that later-afternoon games.

Contact Greg Auman at gauman@tampabay.com and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

Comments
Bucs-Falcons: Has this former Buc become a pass-rushing force?

Bucs-Falcons: Has this former Buc become a pass-rushing force?

TAMPA — The Bucs face the defending NFC champions twice in their final six games. As they prepare to go to Atlanta on Sunday, former Tampa Bay first-round pick Adrian Clayborn is enjoying quite a two-week run.Clayborn, 29, had six sacks Nov. 12 in a ...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
Bucs journal: Defense struggling to get off the field on third and long

Bucs journal: Defense struggling to get off the field on third and long

TAMPA — Third and long, normally an ideal situation for an NFL defense, continues to be a problem as the Bucs try to get opposing offenses off the field.In the second half of Sunday’s game, the Dolphins converted six third downs when they needed 8 ya...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
Clayborn shining for Falcons as Bucs come to town

Clayborn shining for Falcons as Bucs come to town

The Bucs face the Falcons twice in their final six games, and as they prepare to go to Atlanta on Sunday, former Tampa Bay first-round pick Adrian Clayborn has had a nice two-week run.Clayborn had a huge game nine days ago with six sacks in a win aga...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Cannon Fodder podcast: Setting up Bucs vs. Atlanta

Cannon Fodder podcast: Setting up Bucs vs. Atlanta

Times Bucs writer Greg Auman says it’s another week without Jameis Winston as the Bucs prepare to go to Atlanta, and there’s more on the Bucs’ run-game issues and how the defense has struggled on third and long, a situation most defenses love to be i...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Rick and Tom podcast: Debunking the Jameis Winston conspiracy theories

Rick and Tom podcast: Debunking the Jameis Winston conspiracy theories

In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones debunk the Jameis Winston conspiracy theories as he will miss a third consecutive game this weekend in Atlanta.The guys explain that Winston’s absence is purely medical and has nothing to do with the...
Published: 11/21/17
Bucs journal: Dirk Koetter says Doug Martin’s not at fault for struggling running game

Bucs journal: Dirk Koetter says Doug Martin’s not at fault for struggling running game

TAMPA — RB Doug Martin had just 38 yards on 19 carries in Sunday’s win against the Dolphins, but coach Dirk Koetter said his team’s struggles running the ball shouldn’t go squarely on his running back."In my opinion, he is not the reason we’re not mo...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17
Debunking some theories about why the Bucs are keeping Jameis Winston on the shelf

Debunking some theories about why the Bucs are keeping Jameis Winston on the shelf

TAMPA — The Bucs are sticking with Ryan Two and Oh Fitzpatrick at quarterback for Sunday’s game in Atlanta. But this isn’t a case of just riding the guy who has the cool head and hot hand. Doctors would not clear starter Jameis Wi...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17
Fennelly: Hope glimmering through the gloom of Bucs’ season

Fennelly: Hope glimmering through the gloom of Bucs’ season

ST. PETERSBURG — It isn’t easy avoiding The Jameis Winston mess.But it’s worth a try. If only to see some thin shafts of light.It’s worth considering that the 2017 Bucs, their death certificate already signed, have shown signs of life. Okay, near lif...
Published: 11/20/17
WR Bernard Reedy, cut by Bucs, signing to Patriots’ practice squad

WR Bernard Reedy, cut by Bucs, signing to Patriots’ practice squad

Former Lakewood star Bernard Reedy, waived by the Bucs on Friday, cleared waivers on Monday and will be signing on Tuesday to join the New England Patriots' practice squad.Reedy, 25, handled all the Bucs' punt and kickoff returns in the first nine ga...
Published: 11/20/17
Bucs QB Jameis Winston not medically cleared to throw; Ryan Fitzpatrick to start again

Bucs QB Jameis Winston not medically cleared to throw; Ryan Fitzpatrick to start again

Doctors would not clear Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston to begin throwing after an evaluation of his shoulder injury Monday and he could miss one or two more weeks.The Bucs have gone 2-0 under backup Ryan Fitzpatrick since Winston was shut down to gi...
Published: 11/20/17