It’s here! The 2019 season is officially upon us and with the release of the regular season schedule – it actually feels like it. The NFL announced the schedules for all 32 teams Wednesday night. Here are a couple interesting notes on the Bucs’ matchups that you can look forward to.
-The Bucs are scheduled to open their season at home for the first time since 2015 against the San Francisco 49ers. This will be the second consecutive year General John Lynch and company will visit Tampa Bay but this time there will presumably be a healthy Jimmy Garappolo at quarterback as well as one Kwon Alexander in tow, if he’s healthy by then. The Bucs’ 2015 fourth-round pick, Alexander had four promising seasons for the Bucs, the last of which was cut short due to an ACL tear he suffered in Week Seven. He was signed by San Francisco in free agency at a price the Buccaneers couldn’t afford to match. He’ll waste no time in getting right back to Raymond James Stadium, though, making his 49er debut in a place and in front of fans of which he’s all too familiar.
-Tampa Bay is currently scheduled to appear in a primetime slot at least once this season. After their home opener in Week One, they’ll have a short week to prepare to take on the division-rival Panthers in Carolina on Thursday Night Football in Week Two on September 12. It’s the first division opponent the Bucs will face. This may be best-case scenario outside of opening the season on a Thursday night as far as preparation goes. The Bucs will have the entire preseason to prepare for both the 49ers at home and then get in a little bit of work on the Panthers in advance. It’s already a familiar foe and the Bucs will enjoy a couple extra days off before their Week Three home game against the New York Giants. There is a possibility for a primetime game to be added when the Bucs take on the Houston Texans at home in Week 16. That game date and time have yet to be determined and will be finalized after Week Eight and according to NFL flex scheduling. That is to say, if the Bucs and/or Texans are doing well midway through the season, there’s more of a chance we could see a primetime game at Raymond James Stadium this season.
-The Bucs are going Hollywood to play the Los Angeles Rams for the first time since the team moved back to La La land. The matchup is schedule to take place in Week Four. They last played the LA Rams on the road in 1994, winning that contest 24-14. The last time the two teams played period was in 2016 in the Rams’ first year back in California. It capped off a five-year period where the Bucs played the Rams every season. Overall, the Rams lead the all-time series 16-8. It marks the first of two road trips the Bucs will take to the pacific time zone and the first of two consecutive road trips (three if you count the International Series in London, which technically counts as a home game).
-You already know that the Bucs are going to London to face off against the Carolina Panthers for a ‘home’ game as part of the NFL’s International Series on October 13. That was announced earlier today. The International Series participation comes contingent with hosting a Super Bowl, which Tampa Bay will do in 2021. The game in London will kick off at 9:30 a.m. ET and tickets for those wanting to make the trip will go on sale at a later date. It will take place inside Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which completed construction and opened just a couple weeks ago. It was built with a retractable grass ‘pitch’ for NFL games as well as a dedicated entrance dressing rooms and specialist medical and media facilities. The Bucs-Panthers matchup will be the second NFL game ever played inside the billion-British-pound stadium. Though it’s a home game, it will be the Bucs’ third consecutive trip and smack dab in the middle of a 48-day period in which the Buccaneers will not play inside Raymond James Stadium. During that time period they’ll travel more than 20,000 air miles between two trips to the west coast, their trip overseas and a trip each to Nashville and New Orleans. The Bucs don’t return home until November 10 to take on the Arizona Cardinals.
-As has become customary when teams play abroad, the Bucs will get their Bye Week during Week Seven following that October 13 home game in England. It’s two weeks later than the Bucs’ bye last season, which came relatively early in Week Five.
-The second of the Bucs’ west coast trips comes against the Seattle Seahawks for the first time since 2013 on November 3. The Week Nine contest will kick off at 4:05 p.m. ET, meaning 1:05 p.m. local time and will be the second of two trips out west this season, both within 35 days to be exact with a trip overseas thrown into that time span just for fun. Tampa to Seattle is a distance of roughly 3,163 miles, making it the farthest-possible domestic road trip for the Bucs. It also comes with that aforementioned three-hour time difference. Tampa Bay last played Seattle in 2016 at home when the Bucs won 14-5, completely shutting down the league’s now-highest paid player in Russell Wilson and his offense.
-When the Bucs return from their extended road trip, they’ll be greeted by Head Coach Bruce Arians’ former team, the Arizona Cardinals, at home on November 10. Arians was last in charge in the desert in 2017 prior to his brief one-year retirement that led him to take the Bucs’ job this past offseason. Though it’s been over a year, there remains some notable faces that will reunite with BA on the Raymond James Stadium field. Those players include veteran wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who will be in his 16th season in the league, all with Arizona. Arians will also see cornerback Patrick Peterson, who will be in his ninth year in the league, all of which have been Pro Bowl seasons. Current Buccaneers like Deone Bucannon, Andre Ellington, Blaine Gabbert and Kevin Minter will also be reunited with former teammates having played in Arizona themselves and provided they are healthy and on the Bucs’ final roster.
-Speaking of former teams for Bruce Arians, the Buccaneers play the Indianapolis Colts at home during Week 14. Arians was the quarterbacks coach in Indianapolis from 1998 (Peyton Manning’s first year in the league) to 2000. He was then named Offensive Coordinator of the Colts in 2012 before taking over as interim Head Coach for Chuck Pagano, following his cancer diagnosis. Arians led Indy to the playoffs that year and earned his first of two AP Coach of the Year awards. It was the first time an interim head coach had won the award. He’ll face off against his former quarterback in Andrew Luck at 1 p.m. on December 8.
-The Bucs will close out the regular season at home against the division-rival Atlanta Falcons for the second consecutive year. This time, they’ll have a two-day cushion on the New Year’s holiday with the game taking place at 1 p.m. on December 29. It will also be a chance to avenge the loss last season when the Bucs fell in a very close 34-32 decision.
-You’ll notice the Bucs playing four AFC teams this season. Each season, according to the NFL scheduling algorithm, each team plays a different division. This year it’s the AFC South for the Bucs, getting Indy and the Houston Texans at home and playing the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans on the road.
-One last tidbit: Bucs fans will get a break from the heat with no 1 p.m. home games until November 10, when it should have theoretically cooled a bit. Early season home games at Raymond James Stadium are 4 p.m. or later.
View photos of the Bucs' 2019 opponents.