Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Let the Games Begin

The NFL's regular-season schedule is still awaiting release, but the preseason slate is set, with the Buccaneers and Patriots featured on the NFL Network during the second week of games

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The Patriots will come to Raymond James Stadium again this summer, and NFL Network will broadcast the game

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2008 preseason will be a series of rematches, one of which will be televised to a national audience.

Tampa Bay's August schedule, which was released Thursday afternoon, features the same four teams as in 2007 – Miami, New England, Jacksonville and Houston. The Buccaneers' Week Two home game against the Patriots will be played on Sunday, August 17 and carried by the NFL Network.

That is the only one of the four preseason games that is attached to a specific date at this point. The Bucs will play their first live contest of 2008 at Miami in the first week of the preseason, then come home for games against the Patriots and Jaguars in Weeks Two and Three. The tune-up games conclude with a trip to Houston, marking the seventh straight season that the Bucs and Texans will finish their preseasons together.

Actually, Houston, Jacksonville and Miami have all become staples on the Bucs' August slates, in part because preseason schedules put an emphasis on easy travel. Those three teams have all been preseason opponents for Tampa Bay every summer since 2002. Last year, the Bucs defeated the Patriots, Dolphins and Texans during the preseason but lost to the Jaguars.

Two of the four teams on the Bucs' 2008 preseason schedule were playoff teams a year ago, including New England, obviously. The Patriots won their first 18 games before falling to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII. The Jaguars won a Wild Card berth with an 11-5 record and eventually lost to the Patriots in the Divisional Round. Houston did not reach the playoffs but, at 8-8, posted the first non-losing season in the franchise's six-year existence.

The precise dates for the four games will likely be announced when the NFL releases the full-season schedule within the next two weeks. The first full weekend of preseason games will fall between Thursday, August 7 and Monday, August 11. The Buccaneers' most common pattern of preseason games in recent years has been to play the opener on Friday, then follow with two Sunday games before finishing on the Thursday of the final weekend. All of the preseason games in the last week will be played on Thursday or Friday.

Here is a look at the team's approximate 2008 preseason slate:

Tampa Bay's 2008 Preseason Opponents

**Weekend Dates****Opponent****Network**
Week 1Aug. 7-11at MiamiWFLA-TV
Week 2Aug. 17New EnglandNFL Network
Week 3Aug. 21-25JacksonvilleWFLA-TV
Week 4Aug. 28-29at HoustonWFLA-TV

The Week One contest will mark the 23rd time that the Buccaneers and Dolphins have met in the preseason. Miami is by far the most common summer opponent for Tampa Bay, as the Florida neighbors will be meeting for the ninth straight year and the 15th time in the last 15 summers (they played twice during the 1996 preseason). Overall, Miami holds a 14-8 edge in the preseason series, though the Bucs have won four of the last six. Curiously, despite the unpredictable nature of the preseason, all of those games have been very close. In fact, each of the last six meetings has been decided by a touchdown or less, and five of the six have been decided by a field goal or less. Last year, the Bucs won, 31-28.

The Bucs and Patriots have not been infrequent summer foes, either, as this will be the eighth preseason meeting between the two teams. Tampa Bay played a three-year preseason series against New England from 2001-03 and won them all by an average margin of 19 points. Tampa Bay was also victorious in last year's meeting, 13-10, and overall owns a 6-1 record in the all-time series.

In contrast, the Jaguars have gained the upper hand in their preseason series with the Buccaneers after winning the last four matchups. The Jaguars took a 31-19 decision in Jacksonville last year and now have a 4-2 edge in the all-time results.

The Bucs are 5-1 in their ongoing preseason series with the Texans, having lost to Houston only in 2006. Last year, the Bucs concluded their preseason at home with a 31-24 victory over the Texans.

Unlike last year, when they also met Houston and Jacksonville during the regular season, the Bucs are not scheduled to meet any of their 2008 preseason opponents later in the fall.

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