With the division title in the bag in Chicago, the Bucs could look forward to their 2000 schedule
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have to wait another week to learn who they will be welcoming to town in the second round of the playoffs, but they already know who they'll be playing next fall. The National Football League determines each team's opponents for the upcoming season based on the standings from the previous season. Thus, Tampa Bay's 11-5 record and first-place standing in the NFC Central can be used to figure out the team's opponents for 2000.
Eight of the Bucs' sixteen opponents are locked in by the rest of the NFC Central, of course. Tampa Bay will have its usual home-and-home series against Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay and Minnesota. By virtue of their standing in the Central, the Bucs will also have home games against the first-place team in the NFC West and the second-place team in the NFC East. That same formula produces away games at the first-place team in the East and the third-place team in the West. Finally, the Bucs' four AFC opponents for 2000 were preordained as Buffalo and the New York Jets at home and Miami and New England on the road.
Thus, the Bucs' home and away schedules are as follows:
Buffalo Chicago Detroit Dallas Green Bay Minnesota New York Jets St. Louis
Atlanta Chicago Detroit Green Bay Miami Minnesota New England Washington
The NFL will now collaborate with its network partners over the next few months to determine when each of these games will be played. The league's full schedule with dates and times is usually announced in March or April.
Whenever it is played, the Bucs' schedule will renew some rivalries that have been on ice for awhile. Tampa Bay hasn't played Buffalo since 1991, for instance, and the two teams have met just six times before, with the Bucs winning four of those. Strangely, next year's contest will be the seventh time that Buffalo has visited Tampa, while the Bucs have never played in the Bills' Rich Stadium.
Tampa Bay has also not played the Rams since they moved from Los Angeles to St. Louis in 1995. The last Bucs-Rams matchup was in 1994, when the the Bucs broke a six-game losing streak to the Rams with a 24-14 victory in Tampa. Dallas, however, will be the team's most unfamiliar partner in 2000. The Bucs and Cowboys haven't squared off since 1990, when Dallas swept a rare two-game out-of-conference series with a 14-10 home win and a 17-13 road win. The Cowboys, in fact, are one of just two remaining teams that the Bucs have yet to beat, not including the expansion Baltimore Ravens, who have never played Tampa Bay. Dallas is 6-0 all-time against the Buccaneers, plus 2-0 in the postseason.