By Craig Smith
Bucs Report Special to Sports Talk Florida
The NFL released the schedule for all 32 teams on Thursday evening, and as usual, there were things that I immediately loved and hated about the Bucs’ schedule upon first laying my eyeballs on it. And, of course, there was more that stuck out to me after letting it sink in after a few hours.
What I Love
- A potentially long run against inexperienced quarterbacks. From November 5 through December 17, the Bucs will face the Texans, the Titans, the 49ers, the Colts, the Panthers, the Falcons, and the Packers. The Texans, Colts, and Panthers just spent top 5 picks on QBs that will presumably earn the starting gig quickly. The 49ers could be the outlier here, as Kyle Shanahan has said he expects Brock Purdy to have healed from his UCL repair surgery and to be ready for the season – although whether there are any limitations remains to be seen. Jordan Love – who has yet to impress – is the presumed starter in Green Bay after Aaron Rodgers was shipped to the Jets. Ryan Tannehill could (should?) still be the starter in Tennessee, but the Titans just spent an early second-round pick on Will Levis, so it also remains to be seen who will enter the season as their QB1. That’s a lot of inexperience and uncertainty at the most important position on the football field, which can’t be a bad thing for the Bucs to face.
- The home opener against the Bears. It’s always good to open the home slate with a win, and it’s harder to find a more winnable game than against the team who finished 2022 with the worst record in the league. Justin Fields will be a challenge to contain, but this is certainly a game the Bucs should win.
- Starting off at home. 4 of the first 6 games are at Raymond James Stadium. That’s always a nice thing. You want to start the season strong, and playing at home can’t hurt. The Bucs get the Eagles at home in September on Monday Night Football, and while a 1:00 pm game would have been more favorable to take advantage of Florida’s sweltering heat against a northeast team, it’ll still be pretty warm at night.
What I Hate
- 4 of 5 on the road. I hate road-road-home-road-road schedule setups, but that’s the price you pay when you either start with a cluster of home games or finish that way. The first one at Buffalo on a short week is brutal, although the others are potentially against inexperienced QBs as previously mentioned.
- Just two prime time games. I mean, everyone’s on Thursday Night Football once, and that’s one of the two games, so the Bucs are getting just one other game outside of that, and it’s against the Eagles in Week 3 on Monday Night Football. The three years of love from the NFL schedule makers have (predictably) gone with the retirement of Tom Brady.
- Going to Lambeau Field in December. The Bucs’ two primary cold weather foes this fall are Buffalo and Green Bay. The Bucs are going to Buffalo in late October, so they catch a bit of a break there. Not so much with the Packers, as the Bucs face them in Green Bay on December 17. One out of two isn’t bad, I guess.