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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Go Bears and Eagles! | A Bye Week Viewing Guide for Bucs Fans

While Buccaneer players enjoying a weekend of rest, Tampa Bay fans can still find plenty of teams to root for during an entertaining Week Five slate…Suggestions for which teams Bucs fans should root for this weekend

viewing guide

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in the midst of their bye week, and while teams generally prefer their byes to be later in the season, when more wear and tear on the roster has accumulated, the timing isn't too bad this year. There are enough injury concerns on the depth chart right now to make an extra week to heal up before a big first-place showdown with the Detroit Lions in Week Six seem pretty darn handy.

Counterpoint: Bye weeks are always ill-timed because they mean no football for your favorite team that weekend. What are we Bucs fans supposed to root for this week? A clean MRI for Mike Evans? A fully-healed calf for Calijah Kancey? Dave Canales emerging from film study with some new wrinkles for the offense? The Lions saying something to fire Baker Mayfield or Devin White up for Week Six?

Okay, yes, definitely root for all of those things. But there is still plenty of NFL action this weekend, and you can watch as much of it as you want. And every NFL viewing experience is better when you have a rooting interest. So who should we, as Bucs fans who want the best for our team even when it's not itself in action, be rooting for in Week Five?

Allow me to help with that. Here are my suggestions for which teams to root for during the Bucs' bye week, with the games presented in chronological order. This is your 2023 Bye Week Viewing Guide.

Chicago Bears (0-4) at Washington Commanders (2-2), Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET

Not exactly the most compelling matchup to start the week but if you tune into this one on Thursday night it should be a pretty easy decision as to which team to back. The Buccaneers are obviously gunning for the third straight division title, but you do have to keep the possibility of a Wild Card race in the back of your mind. Which of these two NFC teams is most likely to be involved in that race in December? Yeah, it ain't the Bears. The Commanders didn't command a lot of support from the analysts to start the season either, but they came out of the gate with wins over Arizona and Denver and last week took the Eagles to overtime. Meanwhile, the Bears' season already seems to be circling the drain. I'm no Bears sympathizer, but given everything they've had to deal with over the past couple weeks, don't they deserve at least one nice thing to happen?

Verdict: Go Bears and the gods of mercy!

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2) at Buffalo Bills (3-1), Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Tennessee Titans (2-2) at Indianapolis Colts (2-2), Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Baltimore Ravens (3-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2), Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

I generally lump together games that are in the same time slot and feature all-AFC matchups, and that's what we have here to get your Sunday afternoon started. Now, there are certainly some interesting contests here, especially Jacksonville at Buffalo, but the outcomes of these games aren't likely to affect the Bucs' playoff hopes. Four of these teams are on Tampa Bay's schedule between Weeks Seven and 16, so at the least you can keep an eye on these games to see how the Jaguars, Bills, Titans and Colts shape up. The one team I would root for is the Bills…the Bucs have to head up to Buffalo in just a few weeks and I'd rather they continue to win before then so they don't have any added motivation in Week Eight. Beyond that, just enjoy a wide variety of entertaining quarterbacks in this game.

Verdict: Go Bills and the AFC QB arms race!

Houston Texans (2-2) at Atlanta Falcons (2-2), Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

It's the rare occasion when you'll find me wishing for something to go well for the Falcons, and this is not one of them. As usual, it's pretty easy to make the call when it's an AFC-NFC matchup, especially when the NFC half of that is in the Bucs' division. Atlanta has lost its last two by a combined score of 43-13 and have seen their run-heavy offense stall out a bit (though not the run game itself). Not only would I hope that the suddenly frisky Texans send Atlanta to a third straight loss, but I'd be hoping against the Falcons offense getting back in a groove since it's only a couple weeks until they will be in Tampa for a critical division game.

Verdict: Go Texans!

Carolina Panthers (0-4) at Detroit Lions (3-1), Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

This one isn't quite as easy as it looks on first blush. In general, we want the teams in our division to lose whenever possible, right? Yes, but I'm wondering if a Detroit loss might end up as a better play in the long run. There's a long, long way to go this season and I'm not trying to oversell the Bucs' own 3-1 start, but this exercise is based on the assumption that the Buccaneers are going to remain thick in the division-title and NFC-playoff races. If that's the case, the Lions look like a team that could be a direct competitor to the Buccaneers in both a wild card chase and potential seedings among division winners. They also have two games left against 0-4 Chicago, two against 1-3 Minnesota and home dates with the scuffling Raiders and Broncos. We might need to look for losses wherever we can find them on Detroit's schedule. As for the Panthers, I certainly won't be upset if they drop to 0-5, but they're already three back in the NFC South race so we can probably get away with rooting for them one time. We just won't make a habit of it.

Verdict: Go…Wait, am I really saying this?...Yeah, Go Panthers.

New York Giants (1-3) at Miami Dolphins (3-1), Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

I kind of feel bad for Daniel Jones and the Giants. I'm not sure, but I think the Seattle defense just sacked him again. The Giants have so many injury issues on their offensive line that they may have a hard time getting their offense back on track (they did hang 31 on the better-than-expected Cardinals in Week Two). But we don't have to overthink it. Not only is this an NFC-AFC matchup but it's against a Dolphins team that might have the most entertaining offense in the league. I'm not tuning into this one to see a slugfest. I want to see the fastest team on the planet put up another 70.

Verdict: Go Miami and the Greatest Show on Surf!*

(Great nickname, by the way. I am NOT the one who made it up.)

New Orleans Saints (2-2) at New England Patriots (1-3), Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

The Patriots lost to the Cowboys last week, 38-3. It was the most lopsided loss in Bill Belichick's 24-season tenure as New England's head coach. I wouldn't want to be the next team that has to play the Patriots after that one. However, I would like the Saints to be the next team to play them. Yes, the Bucs took over sole possession of first place in the South by beating New Orleans last week, but it's only a one game lead and, as I've already mentioned, there's a long, long way to go. We obviously want a Saints loss here. (I'm going to copy that sentence to my clipboard so I can paste it in every time I do one of these Viewing Guides. Save me a little time.)

Verdict: Go angry Patriots!

Cincinnati Bengals (1-3) at Arizona Cardinals (1-3), Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET

These two teams have the same record but one of them is much happier about it than the other. The Bengals had (and, of course, still have) Super Bowl aspirations but Joe Burrow's calf injury seems to be a restrictor plate on what an otherwise powerful offense can do. Favored by most to win the NFC North, they are in last and two games back of Baltimore. Meanwhile, every move the Cardinals have made this year have seemed to signal a full tear down and rebuild, but they stunned the Cowboys in Week Three and lost two other games by a combined seven points. No team is necessarily happy with a 1-3 record but the Cardinals vibes seem very good. However: AFC vs. NFC. We need a serious vibe swap here.

Verdict: Go Bengals!

Philadelphia Eagles (4-0) at Los Angeles Rams (2-2), Sunday, 4:05 p.m.

Do you want to bring one of the NFC's two undefeated teams down a notch or do you want to push down another team that could be a surprise contender in the conference? I would vote for the latter. The fewer teams involved in the December NFC race the better, and I think it's very likely the Eagles are already going to be there. A Philly win also helps the Bucs' strength-of-schedule figure, if a tiebreaker happens to come down to that.

Verdict: Go Eagles!

New York Jets (1-3) at Denver Broncos (1-3), Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET

Woof. Since upsetting the Bills in Week One even after Aaron Rodgers was hurt on the third play of the season, the Jets have fallen on hard times. They're feisty game against the Chiefs last Sunday night could be a bit of a lift, particularly if Zack Wilson can prove his performance in that game was no fluke, but this is not a team hunting moral victories right now. Similarly, the Broncos did rally from 21 points down to beat the Bears in Week Four, but that means they were down by 21 points to a Bears team that has otherwise had little go right in 2023. This is a lot of unnecessary analysis for an all-AFC game. Personally, I'll be rooting for the Jets because I think they're the more interesting team right now.

Verdict: Go J-E-T…wait, this isn't worthy of a whole chant. Just go Jets.

Kansas City Chiefs (3-1) at Minnesota Vikings (1-3), Sunday, 4:25 pm. ET

A Minnesota win would theoretically give a tiny bump to the Bucs' final strength-of-victory and strength-of-schedule tiebreaker numbers, but that's nearly enough for me to root for the Vikings. A 1-4 start for a potential Wild Card competitor…yeah, Kirk, I would like that.

Verdict: Go Chiefs!

Dallas Cowboys (3-1) at San Francisco 49ers (4-0), Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET

This may be the best game on the schedule this week. It's definitely the hardest one for me to pick in terms of rooting interest. San Francisco's offense looks unstoppable but other than that weird hiccup in the desert the Cowboys' defense looks impenetrable, so this one should be fun no matter which way it goes. As for which way we want it to go, we're deciding between two teams that are almost certain to be competing with the Bucs for division seedings and Wild Card spots, if Tampa Bay remains in the race into December. (Again, that's the premise this exercise is presuming.) It's hard to tell right now which team losing would better suit the Bucs in the end. So I'm going to root for a 49ers loss as proof of concept that they can lose with Brock Purdy at the helm. It hasn't happened yet, at least not in the regular season. They've won all nine games he's started, beginning with a throttling of the Bucs in Week 14 last season. If you count the playoffs, the record with Purdy is 11-1, but it's 11-0 if you don't count games in which Purdy was knocked out almost immediately with an injury. A date with the 49ers looms on the Bucs' calendar in Week 11 and it would be nice if they developed some holes in the armor between now and then.

Verdict: I've been a Dallas hater since my childhood in St. Louis, but it has to be said: Go 'Boys!

Green Bay Packers (2-2) at Las Vegas Raiders (1-3), Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET

It's the Rich Bisaccia Bowl! Bisaccia memorably took over as the Raiders' interim coach in 2021 after the resignation of Jon Gruden and led the team to a 7-5 finish and a playoff berth. He was then passed over in the search for a new permanent head coach in favor of Josh McDaniels, and subsequently went to Green Bay to be the Packers' special teams coordinator. I'm thinking Bisaccia would very much enjoy a Packers win in Vegas on Monday night, and from that standpoint so would I. (Bisaccia got his NFL career started in Tampa in 2002 and has since enjoyed a very successful career in the special teams arena.) But I have to pick with my head and not my heart here, and a Packers loss is undeniably better for the Bucs than a Raiders loss. Green Bay is also on the Bucs' schedule downstream, so we'd rather see them trend down from here instead of up.

Verdict: Go Raiders! Just win baby!

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