The Tampa Bay Buccaneers try to adhere to a 24-hour rule, vowing to put each game behind them quickly whether they win or lose. However, after beating the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday in the first NFL regular-season game ever played in Germany, the Buccaneers can probably take a little more time to savor this one.
That's because there is no immediate open to which they must turn their attention. The 10,000-mile roundtrip to Munich and back is very conveniently followed by Tampa Bay's bye week. For the players, who prevailed in a hard-fought 21-16 decision against Seattle, that means meetings and treatment on Monday and then six consecutive days off.
The Buccaneers head into their bye with a 5-5 record, having rallied for a 16-13 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Week Nine before their trip abroad. That is good for first place in the NFC South by one game over the 4-6 Atlanta Falcons. After the break, it will be a seven-week race to the finish line, with the Bucs and Falcons meeting in Atlanta in Week 18 for a game that could be critical for both teams. Tampa Bay already logged a 21-15 win over the Falcons at home in Week Five.
The final two months of the season will also include jockeying for position in the NFC as a whole, and the Bucs got a head start on that process in Munich by dropping the Seahawks to 6-4. Tampa Bay would currently be the four seed in the conference field as the division leader with the worst record, but will be trying to improve their spot in the rankings by chasing the Eagles, Cowboys, Vikings and Giants, all of whom have seven or more wins already.
When the Bucs do return to action, it will be with another road trip, though a much shorter one than their last journey. Tampa Bay plays the fourth of its five interconference games on Sunday November 27 at Cleveland, looking for its first win over an AFC foe after earlier losses to Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Baltimore. The Browns are coming off a 39-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 10 and will have to take on AFC powerhouse Buffalo in Week 11. Cleveland has lost five of its last six to fall to 3-6 but did record a rousing 32-13 victory over archrival Cincinnati its last home outing.