The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hope their 2016 season ends with a trip to Houston. They know it will begin with a flight to Philadelphia.
On Thursday, the NFL announced the scheduled preseason opponents for each team, and the weeks in which the games would take place this summer. The specific dates and times of most of the contests will be finalized at a later date, though the slate of nationally-televised games, a list that once again includes the Buccaneers, has already been scheduled.
The Buccaneers begin their warmup slate with two road games, heading to Philadelphia to play the Eagles in Week One and then making a short trip upstate to play the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week Two.
The second half of the team's preseason will be played at a newly-renovated Raymond James Stadium, against the Cleveland Browns in Week Three and the Washington Redskins in the finale. The Buccaneers-Browns game will be broadcast nationally by CBS on Friday, August 26, beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET. The other three contests will once again be carried locally by WFLA News Channel 8.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2016 Preseason Opponents:
Week One, Aug. 11-15: at Philadelphia (WFLA-TV)
Week Two, Aug. 20: at Jacksonville (WFLA-TV)
Week Three, Aug. 26: vs. Cleveland, 8:00 p.m. ET (CBS)
Week Four, Sept. 1-2:vs. Washington (WFLA-TV)
The opening-week trip will mark just the second time the Buccaneers and Eagles have played each other in the preseason, and the first time Tampa Bay has gone to Philly for an August game. The only other meeting was 34 years ago, when the Bucs beat the Eagles, 35-7, at Tampa Stadium to open the 1982 preseason.
The other three teams have been more common preseason foes for Tampa Bay, and in fact Jacksonville and Washington were both on the Bucs' preseason schedule last year. The Buccaneers are 3-7 all-time in the preseason against the Jaguars and 5-9 against the Redskins. Tampa Bay has a 4-4 record against Cleveland in preseason play and the two teams will meet for the second year in a row.
Notable by its absence is the team the Bucs have played more often than any other in the preseason, thanks to its proximity. This season marks the first time since 1999 that the Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins won't do battle in the preseason, breaking a string of 16 straight years with such a contest.
The nationally-televised game against the Browns could feature a particularly interesting matchup of quarterbacks, especially since the third preseason game is generally the one that features the most playing time for starters. Tampa Bay, obviously, will get a long look at second-year man Jameis Winston as he prepares to build on his fantastic rookie season. The Browns may have the recently-signed Robert Griffin III under center, or the man Winston replaced in Tampa, Josh McCown. Cleveland could also use the second-overall pick in the upcoming draft on a quarterback.
The opening game in Philadelphia will feature a head-coaching debut on both sidelines, as the Buccaneers Dirk Koetter and the Eagles Doug Pederson square off. Tampa Bay played a preseason game in Jacksonville two years ago but the most recent meeting between the two teams was an exciting 38-31 Bucs' victory at Raymond James Stadium last October. Tampa Bay and Washington also engaged in a shootout last October, with the Redskins scoring a 31-30 comeback win.