The Buccaneers are "Eastbound and Down" in 2021. Every season, in accordance with the NFL scheduling rotation, each team takes on an entire division from both the NFC and AFC, in addition to their own division and other games decided by the prior year's rankings. Tampa Bay will be playing the entirety of the NFC East and the AFC East in 2021 – which will keep them on the eastern seaboard for much of this season. That's good news in terms of distance traveled and though this will be the first time the Bucs will meet AFC East teams since 2017, two very high-profile Buccaneers are very familiar with that particular corner of the NFL.
Those two are very, very familiar with the first AFC East team on the schedule: the New England Patriots. Quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski spent the entirety of their careers with the Patriots prior to arriving in Tampa. Fans won't have to wait long for the homecoming of sorts. The Bucs visit New England in Week Four, with the October 3 matchup slated for Sunday Night Football on NBC. Tampa Bay is 2-7 all-time against the Patriots and are 1-3 at their place. New England remains the very last team in the league Brady needs to beat. Over the course of his 21-year career, he's won over all the others. Changing the tides of Tampa Bay's track record in Week Four would get him the complete set of 32.
It would also technically add to his record for most wins in a single stadium. He has 115 inside Gillette Stadium as it stands, which is 20 more than John Elway had at Mile High.
View pictures of the Buccaneers' 2021 Home and Away Opponents!
As for the rest of the teams in the AFC East, Brady has done better against his former division than anyone with a total of 86 wins, marking the most by a quarterback over any single division since the 1970 merger. Yes, that's more than Marino's dominance over the same division and more than Elway had over the AFC West.
The very next week after the Brady/Gronkowski/Patriots showdown, the Bucs will return home but take on their next AFC East opponent as the Miami Dolphins come to town. The Bucs are 6-5 over their in-state rivals, while Brady is 32-12, which is amazingly his worst record against an AFC East foe. It's still a 72.7-win percentage. Gronkowski is 10-3 against them himself. We'll see if that all keeps up on October 10 at 1 p.m. from Raymond James Stadium.
The Bucs will have to wait until well after their bye for their next AFC East opponent when they take on the Buffalo Bills in Week 14 on December 12. The Bills reached the AFC Championship last season, making the playoffs for the third time in four seasons. Like the Dolphins, Tampa Bay also owns a winning record against the Bills, winning seven of a total 11 contests against them all time. As for Brady, well, there's a reason everyone jokes that Tom Brady owns Buffalo. He's 32-3 against them all-time. And just when the Bills thought he was out (of their division), he and the Bucs are pulling them back in for another bout as the Bills head to Tampa.
The Bucs will conclude their tour of the far east, so to speak, in Week 17 against the New York Jets. It's the only game with a potential for cold temperatures on the Bucs schedule, playing in MetLife Stadium on January 2 at 1 p.m. The Bucs are actually 2-10 against the Jets all time, but the last game the two teams played against each other was a win at Raymond James Stadium in 2017 that ended 15-10. There wasn't a touchdown scored in the game until the fourth quarter. But Brady, however, hasn't had much trouble with the Jets over the course of his career. He's 29-7 against them. Gronkowski is 12-3.
So, while the Buccaneers as a franchise don't have as much experience against the AFC's east division, there are a couple of guys who can take the lead on this one for 2021.