The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play a nationally-televised preseason game at home against the Detroit Lions on Friday, August 24. That contest – which falls in the third week of the preseason and thus will feature significant playing time for both teams' starters – will be broadcast by CBS, with kickoff at Raymond James Stadium scheduled for 8:00 p.m. ET.
A potential showcase for Jameis Winston, Matthew Stafford and two of the league's six most prolific passing attacks of 2017, the Bucs-Lions matchup is a highlight of the NFL's 2018 preseason schedule, which was released on Wednesday. It's also a bit of an oddity: Tampa Bay and Detroit have never before squared off in the preseason.
The Buccaneers have definitely had preseason dates with the Dolphins before – 30 of them, in fact – and they will make it 31 by starting this year's warm-up slate in Miami. For the third August in a row, Tampa Bay will spend its first two weeks on the road, heading to Nashville in Week Two to take on the Tennessee Titans.
The Buccaneers' preseason concludes in Week Four with a visit from the Jacksonville Jaguars. The exact dates and times of the Buccaneers' three non-national games will be announced at a later date. The possible range of dates for each game can be found below.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2018 Preseason Opponents
Week One:Aug. 9-13, at Miami Week Two:Aug. 16-20, at Tennessee Week Three:Friday, Aug. 24, vs. Detroit, 8:00 p.m. ET (CBS)Week Four:Aug. 30-31:* *vs. Jacksonville
As for the Buccaneers' 2018 regular-season slate, and the NFL schedule as a whole, it is expected to drop soon. The NFL schedule release is always a matter of great interest to team staffs, as it allows them to dive deeper into travel logistics and also gives them a Week one opponent to begin targeting. This year, it's going to be of immediate interest to Tampa Bay fans, too. New this year, the Buccaneers will begin selling single-game tickets for all home games as soon as the schedule is announced.
The Buccaneers have played the Dolphins nearly twice as often as their next most frequent preseason opponent, which is unsurprising given their proximity and the relatively rarity of regular-season meetings between the two. Tampa Bay's next most frequent preseason partners are the Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins (16 games each), though the Bucs and Falcons stopped scheduling August get-togethers when they became NFC South division mates in 2002.
Miami leads the all-time preseason series with Tampa Bay, 17-13, though the Buccaneers have won four of the last five. The two teams last met in the preseason in 2015, with the Bucs taking a 22-17 decision in Miami to close out that year's warm-up slate. The last time the two teams played at Raymond James Stadium, Miami won, 20-14, in Week Two of the 2014 preseason.
This will be just the third preseason trip to Nashville for the Buccaneers, and their first since 2009, when they lost their opener, 27-20, to the Titans. Overall, Tampa Bay has played the Tennessee franchise in the preseason nine times, including six matchups when they were based in Houston and known as the Oilers. The Buccaneers are 6-3 all-time against Tennessee/Houston in August games, including a 3-2 mark on the road.
As noted, the Buccaneers and Lions have never shared a preseason field before. That's largely because they played in the same division (the former NFC Central) for 25 years, although Tampa Bay does have a preseason past with the three other teams in that group. The Bucs have faced Green Bay twice and Chicago and Minnesota once each in summer games. That leaves just five teams the Buccaneers have never been pitted against in the preseason: Carolina, Dallas, the Los Angeles Chargers, the New York Giants and San Francisco.
The Buccaneers have had regular preseason dates with the NFL's other Florida team, too. Tampa Bay and Jacksonville have met 12 times in the summer, all in the last 16 years. The Bucs have won at Jacksonville each of the past two years, both in the second week of the preseason after also joining the Jaguars for a week of joint practices at their training facility. Jacksonville, however, still holds the overall edge in the preseason series, 7-5, and they have won three of the four of those games played at Raymond James Stadium.