2021 NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Schedule, Team News, Predictions & Key Games
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ schedule was released along with the rest of the NFL slate on Wednesday.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers schedule for the 2021 NFL season

The 2021 NFL season will kick off on Thursday, Sept. 9 with the Buccaneers facing the Dallas Cowboys at Raymond James Stadium. ESPN will have a Monday Night Football game on Sept. 13 featuring the Baltimore Ravens at the Las Vegas Raiders (8:15 p.m. ET), according to ESPNBlog.

The NFL will change its schedule for the first time in 44 years, expanding to 17 regular-season games. The final regular-season games will be played January 9, 2022. The playoffs begin January 15, 2022 and continue through Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13, 2022 at Los Angeles' SoFi Stadium.

Here's what's in store for the Bucs:

Schedule

Sept. 9: vs. Cowboys

Sept. 19: vs. Falcons

Sept. 26: at L.A. Rams

Oct. 3: at Patriots

Oct. 10: vs. Dolphins

Oct. 14: at Eagles

Oct. 24: vs. Bears

Oct. 31: at Saints

Nov. 7: Bye

Nov. 14: at Washington

Nov. 22: vs. Giants

Nov. 28: at Colts

Dec. 5: at Falcons

Dec. 12: vs. Bills

Dec. 19: vs. Saints

Dec. 26: at Panthers

Jan 2: at Jets

Jan. 9: vs. Panthers

Strength of schedule: 29th (.465)

Team News

2021 NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Schedule, Team News, Predictions & Key Games

Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Week 1): The blockbuster season opener will offer a very good early look at how much the Buccaneers' offense improved during an offseason together and how much better the Cowboys' defense can be after an offseason revamp, according to NFL.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots (Week 4): There is no bigger game this season. Or any other season.

Buffalo Bills at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Week 14): How much better is the Bucs' offense after a year together? Can Josh Allen handle the Bucs' defense? A gauge of each team's championship hopes.

Once again the Bucs are getting five nationally televised games this season -- the maximum number allowed by the NFL -- including the NFL Kickoff Game for the first time in franchise history. This schedule is conducive to what Tom Brady does best -- build as the season progresses. The Bucs only face one 2020 playoff team in the first six weeks of the season -- the L.A. Rams. But after that, they face six playoff teams: the Bears (Week 7), at New Orleans (Week 8), at Washington (Week 10), at Indianapolis (Week 12), vs. Buffalo (Week 14) and vs. the Saints (Week 15), with a team-friendly Week 9 bye, although it’s not the latest in the NFL like last year, which was Week 13.

The marquee game will be Brady’s return to Foxborough in Week 4 to face Bill Belichick, the man he spent 20 years with -- the most by any head coach and player duo in the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL history, according to Elias -- and won six Super Bowls with. While the timing of that game -- on the heels of a cross-country road trip at the Rams -- isn’t ideal from a scheduling standpoint, you couldn't draw up a better plot line: Brady may set the NFL's all-time passing record in New England. He enters the season 1,154 yards behind Drew Brees.

Predictions

2021 NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Schedule, Team News, Predictions & Key Games

It isn't very bold to predict that a Super Bowl champion returning all 22 starters on offense and defense -- the first in the salary-cap era -- can actually "go for two," as coach Bruce Arians put it. Every Super Bowl champion thinks it can. The Kansas City Chiefs nearly "ran it back" last year. But few have done it (eight teams, to be exact). One of them happens to be a team Tom Brady played on, though, according to ESPN.

Key Games

2021 NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Schedule, Team News, Predictions & Key Games

The more you think about the Buccaneers winning the Super Bowl in 2020, the scarier it is to think about what they can do in 2021.

Last season, they brought in Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown and Leonard Fournette, among others. In a season with no true offseason and no time to jell, they started a rookie tackle and relied on a rookie safety on defense.

Head coach Bruce Arians' vertical system was not a natural fit for Brady. They had to figure out how to marry Brady's skill set and experience with Arians' philosophies.

Despite all of those challenges, they still won it all. They've also found a way to fit every starter under the salary cap. In a league where continuity is huge, the Bucs are the first team to return all 22 starters on offense and defense from a Super Bowl team.

The cost of that is there are few additions who will make an impact. Giovani Bernard is probably the best free agent they added. First-round pick Joe Tryon is more of a developmental pass-rusher than immediate starter.

Back-to-back championships are always hard. From a culture standpoint, it's difficult to keep the hunger that drives a championship team, but the Bucs have all the ingredients in place, according to Bleacherreport.

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