The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished the 2020 season under the NFL's brightest spotlight and they are set to be the center of attention again in 2021.
The NFL released its full, 272-game regular-season schedule for 2021 on Wednesday, and the highlights for Tampa Bay include five nationally-televised evening games, matching last year for the most the franchise has ever played in a single season. The defending Super Bowl champs will also play the first game of the NFL's season and will be featured in prime time in three of the first six weeks.
The Buccaneers have been scheduled for the maximum number of nationally-televised prime-time games again, just as they were last year after the arrival of Tom Brady. Brady promptly led the Buccaneers to victory in Super Bowl LV and now they will get the national spotlight for games against Dallas, New England, Philadelphia, the New York Giants and New Orleans.
The matchups with the Cowboys and Eagles are both Thursday night games, including the NFL's Kickoff Game in Week One and a visit to Philadelphia in Week Six. The Buccaneers get the coveted Sunday Night Football showcase in Week Four against the Patriots on the road and Week 15 against the Saints at home, with their one Monday Night Football appearance coming at home against the Giants in Week 11 at Raymond James Stadium.
The full schedule can be found below. Season Passes are available now. There are an extremely limited number of seats, so please click here to request more information, and a Buccaneers representative will call you promptly.
The NFL's new enhanced schedule now covers 17 games per team over 18 weeks, concluding on January 9, the latest regular-season games ever scheduled. The Buccaneers get their bye essentially at the middle of that schedule, in Week Nine, with eight games before and nine after. The added game is a fifth interconference matchup, with the Buccaneers traveling to Indianapolis in Week 12.
The first month of the Bucs' season concludes with one of the most anticipated NFL games in years, when Tampa Bay travels to New England in Week Four. That will give Brady his first opportunity to square off against his former team, for whom he played 20 seasons and won six championships before coming to Tampa.
Below is the Buccaneers' 2021 game schedule, including the three-game preseason slate, followed by more notes (all times Eastern):
|Sat.||Aug. 14||Cincinnati||7:30 PM||WFLA-TV|
|Sat.||Aug. 21||Tennessee||7:30 PM||WFLA-TV|
|Sat.||Aug. 28||at Houston||8:00 PM||WFLA-TV|
|Thurs.||Sept. 9||Dallas||8:20 PM||NBC|
|Sun.||Sept. 19||Atlanta||4:05 PM||FOX|
|Sun.||Sept. 26||at L.A. Rams||4:25 PM||FOX|
|Sun.||Oct. 3||at New England||8:20 PM||NBC|
|Sun.||Oct. 10||Miami||1:00 PM||CBS|
|Thurs.||Oct. 14||at Philadelphia||8:20 PM||FOX/NFLN/AMZ|
|Sun.||Oct. 24||Chicago||4:25 PM||CBS|
|Sun.||Oct. 31||at New Orleans||4:25 PM||Fox|
|Sun.||Nov. 14||at Washington||1:00 PM||FOX|
|Mon.||Nov. 22||N.Y. Giants||8:15 PM||ESPN|
|Sun.||Nov. 28||at Indianapolis||1:00 PM||FOX|
|Sun.||Dec. 5||at Atlanta||1:00 PM||FOX|
|Sun.||Dec. 12||Buffalo||4:25 PM||CBS|
|Sun.||Dec. 19||New Orleans||8:20 PM||NBC|
|Sun.||Dec. 26||at Carolina||1:00 PM||FOX|
|Sun.||Jan. 2||at N.Y.||1:00 PM||FOX|
|Sun.||Jan. 9||Carolina||1:00 PM||FOX|
- All times Eastern and subject to change.
- NFL Network and Amazon simulcast subject to change.
- Sunday night games in Weeks 5-17 subject to change.
A select number of games may also be "cross-flexed" between CBS and FOX.
Here are some additional notes regarding the Buccaneers' 2021 schedule:
Four of the Buccaneers six games against NFC South opponents fall within the last six weeks of the season, setting up a potentially dramatic battle for the division title. The Bucs do get a home game against Atlanta in Week Two but don't play the Saints until Week Eight and the Panthers until Week 16. For the second year in a row, the Buccaneers play one of their division opponents twice in the last three weeks, first on the road and then at home to wrap up the regular season. It was Atlanta last year; this time it's Carolina.
- This is the fourth time, and the second season in a row, that the Buccaneers are scheduled for a pair of Sunday Night Football games, though last year the team did not actually end up playing twice on Sunday night. The Week Seven game at Las Vegas was eventually switched to the late afternoon over concerns that it might have to be postponed due to COVID-19 issues for the Raiders. The Bucs also played two Sunday night games in 1999 and 2002.
- The Buccaneers and Tom Brady take on the Bills in Week 14, marking Brady's first game against the long-time division opponent since he joined the Buccaneers. Brady owns a career 32-3 record against the Bills as a starter, the most wins by any quarterback against any single opponent in NFL history.
- That Bucs-Bills contest will also feature a tantalizing quarterback matchup of Brady and Buffalo's Josh Allen, who blossomed into an MVP candidate while leading Buffalo to a 13-3 regular season and the AFC Championship Game last year. Allen is one of potentially up to eight quarterbacks under the age of 25 who may have to face off against the seven-time champion this season. Others include the Jets' Zach Wilson, the Bears' Justin Fields, the Patriots' Mac Jones, the Eagles' Jalen Hurts, the Dolphins' Tua Tagovailoa, the Giants' Daniel Jones and the Panthers' Sam Darnold. Wilson and fields were the second and 11th players selected, respectively, in this year's NFL Draft.
- Tampa Bay did not draw the latest possible bye week, as it did in 2020, but it will still be the second-latest bye (Week Nine) the team has enjoyed since 2008, when it was in Week 10. The 2017 Buccaneers were originally scheduled to have Week 11 off but Hurricane Irma forced the NFL to push the Tampa Bay-Miami Game from Week One to that original bye.
- This is the third time the Buccaneers will open a season against the Cowboys. In 2001, Tampa Bay won a Week One contest in Dallas, 10-6. In 2009, the Cowboys came to Tampa and won, 34-21, on opening weekend.
- The Buccaneers could get a couple rare cold-weather games in 2021. Tampa Bay has only played in two games over the past decade in which the temperature at kickoff was 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, including their Week Eight Monday Night Football win at the New York Giants last year. This year, the Bucs will play in open-air stadiums on the road against the Panthers on December 26 and the Jets on January 2. Last year, the kickoff temperature for the Jets' final home game – against Cleveland on December 27 – was 37 degrees.
- The Bucs' 2021 schedule does not include any runs of more than two consecutive games at home or on the road. They will not have a home game for nearly a month in the middle of the season, however, between a Week Seven game against Chicago and a Week 11 game against the Giants. In between are road games at New Orleans and Washington sandwiched around the bye week. The schedule is not heavily loaded on either end with home or road games, either. The Bucs play four each before the bye and then four home and five on the road after.
- Tampa Bay's 2021 schedule includes seven games against teams that qualified for the postseason last year, but only one in the first six weeks. The Bucs face four 2020 playoff teams in a span of five games beginning in Week Seven. Those playoff matchups are: at L.A. Rams (Week Three), vs. Chicago (Week Seven), at New Orleans (Week Eight), at Washington (Week 10), at Indianapolis (Week 12) vs. Buffalo (Week 14) and vs. the Saints again (Week 15).
- The Buccaneers will get a chance to break two of their three longest current regular-season losing streaks against any opponent in 2021. The Bucs have lost five in a row against New Orleans (avenged a great deal by last year's Divisional Round win in the Superdome) and four in a row to New England. The Bucs have also lost four in a row to Baltimore but won't play the Ravens during the 2021 regular season.
- Tampa Bay's offense will face three of the top four and four of the top eight teams in last year's defensive rankings in 2021. That starts with a visit to the Rams in Week Three, where Brady and company will face Aaron Donald and the defense that allowed the fewest points and yards in the NFL last season. Week 10 brings a matchup with Washington and the league's second-ranked defense in 2020. The schedule also includes two games against the Saints' fourth-ranked defense and one against the Colts' eighth-ranked crew.
- Conversely, only two of the NFL's top 10 offenses from 2020 are on Tampa Bay's 2021 schedule: second-ranked Buffalo in Week 14 and 10th-ranked Indianapolis in Week 12.