When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers broke a long playoff drought in 1997, they started their rise with a rousing victory over the visiting San Francisco 49ers. If new Head Coach Bruce Arians succeeds in leading the Buccaneers back to the postseason in 2019, the journey could start in the very same way.
The NFL released its full, 256-game regular-season schedule for 2019 on Wednesday, and the highlights for the Buccaneers include a home opener against San Francisco on September 8, an early-season game with a national audience, a visit to London's Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in Week Six, a run of NFC South matchups in the middle of the season and a finish dominated by home dates. The full schedule can be found below.
Tampa Bay's first month of play will also include a Week Two game with a national audience and the team's first trip to Los Angeles in more than a quarter-century. After the home opener, the Buccaneers will travel to Charlotte for a September 12 Thursday night matchup with the Carolina Panthers on NFL Network. Week Three features a visit from the New York Giants on Sunday, September 22, and the month concludes with a road game against the Los Angeles Rams on September 29.
The Buccaneers-49ers game on September 8 is scheduled to begin at 4:25 p.m. ET, and the Buccaneers will not play a home game with a 1:00 p.m. kickoff until Week 10, when the Arizona Cardinals visit on November 10, which means they will escape the worst of the Florida heat in the season's first half. They are also unlikely to face any particularly cold games in 2019, as their only three road games in the season's second half will be played in Jacksonville in Week 13 and in a pair of domed stadiums at Atlanta in Week 12 and Detroit in Week 15.
The Buccaneers will play a Week One game at home for the first time since 2015. Tampa Bay's first game of the 2017 season was at Raymond James Stadium, but it fell in Week Two after the team's scheduled opener in Miami was postponed by Hurricane Irma.
The Buccaneers also have a favorable end to the season with home games against Houston and Atlanta in Weeks 16 and 17. The Houston game will be played on either Saturday, December 21 or Sunday, December 22; that part of the schedule will not be finalized until after Week Eight. The Bucs play three of their last four games at Raymond James Stadium, with Indianapolis also visiting in Week 13.
As was announced earlier on Wednesday, the middle of the Bucs' 2019 season is highlighted by a game against the Panthers in London on Sunday, October 13. The game, which will count as a home date for Tampa Bay, marks the team's third regular-season game in London but its first at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, a multi-purpose facility that features a synthetic turf specifically for NFL games under a retractable soccer pitch.
The Buccaneers' intra-division fortunes will be decided earlier than usual, with all but one of their six games against NFC South foes played before December. That second matchup against Carolina in London is one of four contests the Bucs will play against division opponents in a span of seven midseason games.
Single-game tickets for the Buccaneers' 2019 season went on sale on Wednesday night immediately up on the release of the schedule. Click here for more information on purchasing Buccaneers tickets.
Below is the Buccaneers' 2019 game schedule, including the previously-announced preseason slate, followed by more notes (all times Eastern):
· All times Eastern and subject to change.
· NFL Network broadcast subject to change.
· All Sunday afternoon games in Weeks 5-17 are subject to time changes as part of NFL's flex scheduling format. Flex scheduling will not be applied to games airing on Thursday, Saturday or Monday nights. From Weeks 5-10 games can only be moved in a total of two of those weeks.
· A select number of games may also be "cross-flexed" between CBS and FOX.
Here are some additional notes regarding the Buccaneers' 2019 schedule:
- In his first season at the Buccaneers' helm, Bruce Arians gets a chance to go up against two of his notable former employers, and he gets to play host to both. Arians was the Arizona Cardinals' head coach from 2013-17, during which he racked up the most victories for a head coach in franchise history. The Cardinals will visit Raymond James Stadium in Week 10. Arians was also the interim head coach for the Indianapolis Colts in 2012, when he led them on a 9-3 run and to a playoff berth. He was named the NFL's Coach of the Year for his efforts, and he got the job in Arizona the very next year. Arians was also the Colts' quarterbacks coach in 1998 and he was instrumental in the development of future Hall-of-Famer Peyton Manning.
- The 49ers will play at Raymond James Stadium for the second time in the three seasons since San Francisco named former Buccaneer great John Lynch their general manager. The Buccaneers beat the 49ers, 27-9, in Tampa last year. on November 25.
- The Buccaneers will play a road game against the Rams for the first time since that franchise moved back to Los Angeles in 2016. The Rams were based in St. Louis from 1995-2015 and the two teams had several memorable contests in Missouri, including the 1999 NFC Championship Game. The last time the Buccaneers played the Rams in Los Angeles was 1987. The last time Tampa Bay played a game in L.A., however, was 1993, when they lost a 27-20 decision to the then-Los Angeles Raiders on Dec. 19. The Buccaneers will be looking to record their first-ever victory in the City of Angels.
- Technically, the Buccaneers don't have any stretches of home or away games longer than two in a row. However, because the team's home game against Carolina will be played in London in Week Six and the bye week will follow, Tampa Bay will go six weeks without holding a game at Raymond James Stadium. Following a September 22 home game against the Giants, the Bucs will next play in their home stadium on November 10, against the Cardinals. Previously, the Buccaneers longest such stretch was four weeks, not counting 1982, when a players' strike shut the whole league down for nine weeks. The 2001 team opened with a road game at Dallas, had a bye in Week Three and then played at Minnesota in Week Four. Because the NFL postponed all of its Week Two games following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, that meant Tampa Bay's first game at its home stadium was in Week Five.
- That six-week stretch includes road trips to Los Angeles, New Orleans, Nashville and Seattle and, along with the swing through London, will see the Buccaneers travel more than 20,000 air miles.
- Tampa Bay's game against Carolina in Week Two will mark the earliest in a season they have ever appeared in a Thursday night game, and the second earliest they have ever played a nationally-televised prime-time game. Tampa Bay played in Atlanta on a Thursday night in Week Three of the 2014 season, which was previously their earliest appearance in that series. The 2003 Buccaneers opened their Super Bowl title-defense season with a Week One Monday Night Football victory in Philadelphia, 17-0.
View photos of the Bucs' 2019 opponents.
- The Buccaneers' potentially-significant run of late-season home games is not a common occurrence. The Bucs will get three home games in the last four weeks for the second time in the last three years but only the third time in the last 25 years. Prior to 2017, when they also had three of their last four at home, the last such occurrence was in 2001.
- Houston and Indianapolis will be visiting Raymond James Stadium in the regular season for the first time since 2011, which is the result of the rotating-division scheduling format the league has employed since its 2002 expansion and realignment. Houston has only played at Raymond James Stadium twice, with a loss in 2003 and a win in 2011. The Colts are 2-5 all-time in road games against the Buccaneers, with the last win coming in 2003 thanks to a memorable Monday Night Football comeback engineered by Peyton Manning.
- Similarly, Tampa Bay will be going back to Jacksonville and Tennessee in the regular season for the first time in eight years. Those are two of the five remaining teams against which the Buccaneers have yet to notch a road victory (also Buffalo, Houston and the New York Jets).
- Buccaneer fans will have to tune in earlier than usual for the team's Week Six game against Carolina, which has a local kickoff time of 9:30 a.m. It will be the first time a regular-season Buccaneer game has kicked off prior to noon in Tampa; the team's two previous games in London, in 2009 and 2011, kicked off at 2:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. in Florida, respectively.
- In Week Three the Buccaneers and Giants will face off for the third consecutive season and it will be a rubber match after the Bucs won at home in 2017 and the Giants countered with a win at the Meadowlands in 2018. That 2017 matchup also fell on the third weekend of the season.
- For the second straight season, the Buccaneers' regular-season finale will be a home game against the Atlanta Falcons. All 32 teams play games against division opponents in Week 17 in an effort to increase the chances that more games have meaningful consequences. However, this will be the first season since 2006 that the Buccaneers do not have at least two December games against NFC South foes.