2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Schedule: Full Listing of Dates, Times and TV InfoMay 7, 2020
So, uhh, things are gonna be pretty different in Tampa this year.
With one historic free-agent signing, the Buccaneers went from an also-ran that rarely found themselves on national television to one of 2020's premier attractions. Then they went and doubled down with the biggest trade the organization has made since Jon Gruden came to town.
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski's arrival means attention, fanfare and, most importantly, expectations. While objective observers may look at the quarterback as a 42-year-old who showed severe signs of decline last season, that narrative doesn't fly with fans who locked in season tickets and threw down on a Brady No. 12 jersey.
Anything less than a playoff berth will be considered a major disappointment. With the 2020 schedule being released Thursday, let's take a look at the Buccaneers' chances this season.
The Buccaneers have a middle-of-the-road schedule, ranking in a tie for 16th based on their opponents' 2019 records. The NFC South has the AFC West and NFC North as its common opponents, which ranks as a middle-of-the-road pairing.
Playing the defending champs is rough, but the remainder of the AFC West is either weak (Raiders, Broncos) or perpetually disappointing (Chargers). The Chargers can only get called a sleeping giant so many times before they're just in permanent hibernation.
The NFC North has three potential playoff teams (Packers, Bears, Vikings) and another (Lions) that might quickly fall off the rails.
The home-road draw did the Bucs a ton of favors here. Green Bay, Kansas City, Minnesota and the Chargers—their four best common opponents—all come to Florida. The Bucs visit their four weakest: the Raiders, Bears, Lions, Broncos. It's possible, if not likely, the Bucs are favored in six of these matchups.
Among non-common opponents, the Buccaneers host the Rams and go on the road against the New York Giants. We can pretty conservatively say Tampa will be favored in at least seven of its non-division games.
Let's continue the hypothetical here and say the Bucs win the seven or so games in which they're favored. That means they'll likely have to go .500 against their division—something that's easier said than done.
The Falcons finished strong last season, winning four straight games after a 3-9 start. The Saints are Super Bowl contenders. The Panthers could be headed toward a rebuild—their roster is the weakest in the division—but Teddy Bridgewater looked solid in five starts with New Orleans last season. This isn't a team that can afford to waste Christian McCaffrey's youth, so it'll look to be competitive.
The Bucs are more of a collection of headline makers than they are more "talented" than 2020. There is little evidence 2020 Brady is any better than 2019 Jameis Winston. Gronkowski was an injury-riddled shell of himself when he was last on the field—a year off doing WWE and appearance gigs doesn't undo the years of damage he did to his body.
Tampa's 2020 reality is more likely to approximate its 2019 performance than lead to title contention.