The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will get a visit from the New York Giants and a trip to Detroit next fall as a result of the final 2018 standings.
The NFL's scheduling formula, based on rotating division matchups, means that teams can know years in advance who will they be playing the next season, even before the league releases its full schedule in the spring. The Buccaneers, for instance, know that they will play all the teams in the NFC West and the AFC South in 2019, and they know where they will play them based on where the game was held the last time through each rotation. That's eight of the 16 games, and another six are obviously occupied by home-and-away series against the Buccaneers' opponents in their own division.
That leaves two games that are determined by the previous year's standings. Each year, the Buccaneers have four games against the NFC division that the NFC South is paired with, plus one game each against an opponent in the two other divisions in the conference. Those two games are determined by matching the division standings; the team in first in the South plays the team in first in the other two divisions, and so on.
The Buccaneers finished fourth in the NFC South after falling to 5-11 with Sunday's season-ending loss to Atlanta. That means they get a home game against the Giants, who finished fourth in the NFC East, and a road game against the Lions, who finished fourth in the NFC North. That produces the following opponent list for 2019:
New York Giants
New Orleans Saints
San Francisco 49ers
Los Angeles Rams
New Orleans Saints
Photos of the Bucs 2019 Opponents
View photos of the Buccaneers' 2019 opponents.
The Bucs will face three 2018 playoff opponents in their home schedule next year: Houston, Indianapolis and New Orleans. Similarly, three of their eight road games will be against incumbent postseason participants: Los Angeles, New Orleans and Seattle.
Houston and Indianapolis will play in Tampa for the first time since 2011, which is how the eight-year, home-and-away rotation works with the AFC divisions. The Cardinals haven't visited Raymond James Stadium since 2013 as the last two matchups, in 2016 and 2017, were both in Arizona. The Giants will be coming to Tampa for the third time since 2015.
Of course, one of those games could also be played in either London or Mexico City. The NFL announced in early December that the Buccaneers were one of five teams that would play host to a home game abroad as part of the NFL International Series.
The Buccaneers will play a game in Los Angeles for the first time in more than a quarter-century. Their last visit to L.A. was in 1993, when they faced the then-Los Angeles Raiders at the L.A. Coliseum. The last time the Buccaneers played the Rams in Los Angeles was in 1987. The Rams subsequently moved to St. Louis in 1995 and then back to California 20 years later.