Ready for Takeoff! Bucs’ 2013 Schedule Starts with...

Ready for Takeoff! Bucs’ 2013 Schedule Starts with the Jets

Two prime-time games at home, including an old-school Monday Night matchup with in-state rival Miami, and an opener in the Meadowlands highlight the Bucs’ most intriguing regular-season schedule in years

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play two nationally-televised prime-time games at Raymond James Stadium in 2013.  That’s an indication that NFL schedule-makers are as optimistic about Tampa Bay’s fortunes as the Buccaneers themselves are following a promising 2012 campaign.

The NFL released its much-anticipated 2013 regular-season schedule on Thursday, and the Buccaneers’ 16-game slate is chock full of national exposure, intriguing matchups and pleasant surprises.  Highlighting Tampa Bay’s schedule is a Monday Night Football matchup with the Miami Dolphins at Raymond James Stadium on November 11.  Two weeks prior to that (Oct. 24), the Bucs will also play before a national audience, hosting the Carolina Panthers as part of the NFL Network’s expanded Thursday night bill.

The Buccaneers also have two Sunday games that will kick off at 4:05 p.m.: vs. New Orleans in Week Two (Sept. 15) and at Seattle in Week Nine (Nov. 3).  Coupled with a nationally-televised preseason game at New England on August 16, those dates promise the up-and-coming Buccaneers their widest audience in years.

Head Coach Greg Schiano’s second season at the helm kicks off with a particularly interesting matchup, at the New York Jets on Sunday, Sept. 8.  That will mark the second straight season that the Buccaneers’ first road game is in the new MetLife Stadium shared by the Giants and Jets.  Last year, Tampa Bay played a shootout against the Giants in Week Two after an opening-day home win over Carolina.  The Jets game also marks the first time since 2008 that the Buccaneers will open the season on the road.

Tampa Bay’s home opener falls in Week Two with a visit from division-rival New Orleans.  Games at New England and at home against Arizona in Weeks Three and Four round out the first month, after which the Buccaneers will enjoy their bye week.  The season includes with consecutive road games at St. Louis and New Orleans after a circle-the-date home finale pairing with the San Francisco 49ers in Week 15.

The dates and times of Tampa Bay’s four preseason games were also revealed on Thursday and are included in the listing below.  Here is the Buccaneers’ 2013 game schedule, followed by more notes:

Day Date Opponent Time Network

– Preseason –

Thurs. Aug. 8 BALTIMORE 7:30 PM TBA
Fri. Aug. 16 at New England 8:00 PM FOX
Sat. Aug. 24 at Miami 7:30 PM TBA
Thurs. Aug. 29 WASHINGTON 7:30 PM TBA

– Regular Season –

Sun. Sept. 8 at N.Y. Jets 1:00 PM FOX
Sun. Sept. 15 NEW ORLEANS 4:05 PM FOX
Sun. Sept. 22 at New England 1:00 PM FOX
Sun. Sept. 29 ARIZONA 1:00 PM FOX
Bye Week
Sun. Oct. 13 PHILADELPHIA 1:00 PM FOX
Sun. Oct. 20 at Atlanta 1:00 PM FOX
Thurs. Oct. 24 CAROLINA 8:25 PM NFLN
Sun. Nov. 3 at Seattle 4:05 PM FOX
Mon. Nov. 11 MIAMI 8:40 PM ESPN
Sun. Nov. 17 ATLANTA 1:00 PM FOX
Sun. Nov. 24 at Detroit 1:00 PM FOX
Sun. Dec. 1 at Carolina 1:00 PM FOX
Sun. Dec. 8 BUFFALO 1:00 PM CBS
Sun. Dec. 15 SAN FRANCISCO 1:00 PM FOX
Sun. Dec. 22 at St. Louis 1:00 PM FOX
Sun. Dec. 29 at New Orleans 1:00 PM FOX
  • All times Eastern and subject to change
  • All Sunday afternoon games in Weeks 11-17 are subject to time changes as part of NFL’s flex scheduling format. Flex scheduling will not be applied to games airing on Thursday, Saturday or Monday nights.

Miami’s Week 10 visit marks just the second home Monday Night Football game for the Bucs since 2003.  Their last appearance on the popular prime-time series came in Week Four of the 2011 campaign and resulted in a 24-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts at Raymond James Stadium.  The Buccaneers’ all-time 9-9 record on Monday night includes a 23-17 victory against the Dolphins in 1982; Tampa Bay also won its other prime-time game against Miami, on Sunday night in 1997, by a 31-21 score.

Carolina’s visit in Week Eight will be the Buccaneers’ third appearance on the NFL Network’s Thursday night series, which was expanded dramatically last season.  It will be the second such game at Raymond James Stadium, as the Bucs’ two previous Thursday night NFL Network games include a Week 15 home loss to Dallas in 2011 and a Week Eight win at Minnesota last fall.

The Bucs take a cross-country trip to Seattle between those two nationally-televised affairs.  Still, this marks just the second time in team history – and the first time it happened intentionally – that the Buccaneers have had two consecutive home dates scheduled for prime time.  Tampa Bay finished the 2001 campaign with a Saturday night Week 16 game against Baltimore and a Sunday night Week 17 game against Philadelphia, both in Raymond James Stadium.  However, that Philadelphia game was originally scheduled for Week Two of the season before the 9/11 terrorist attacks led to the postponement of that entire week’s worth of games.

The Bucs will finish on the road for the fourth consecutive season, and will have a pair of road trips to cap their slate for the second time in the last three years.  This will be the fifth straight season that Tampa Bay’s final opponent is either Atlanta or New Orleans.

Most of the Buccaneers’ intradivisional slate will play out earlier in the year, however.  The home opener against the Saints in Week Two is one of four NFC South games the Bucs will play within their first 10 outings.  Breaking significantly from a recent trend, the Bucs will get both of their games against the Falcons, the defending division champs, out of the way before December, with a game at the Georgia Dome in Week Seven and the rematch in Tampa in Week 11.  The NFC South was formed in 2002 during the league’s last realignment, and in every year from 2002-12 the Buccaneers and Falcons played at least once in the month of December.   In all 16 of the two teams’ 22 meetings as NFC South combatants has fallen in Week 10 or later.

Here are some additional notes regarding the Buccaneers’ 2013 schedule:

  • The Buccaneers will make two trips to Foxborough within the span of six weeks, beginning with the Week Two preseason game against the Patriots and followed by a Week Three regular-season matchup.  That’s a fairly uncommon occurrence against any opponent, but the Bucs actually had a very similar double-dip with the Patriots in 2000.  That season, Tampa Bay won at New England twice in a three-week span, taking a preseason Week Three matchup as well as the regular-season opener.
  •  Tampa Bay drew the exact same bye week as last year, getting their time off in Week Five at the beginning of October.  The Bucs have had their bye among the first five weeks of the season in three of the last four years.
  •  If the Buccaneers are in the thick of a playoff chase in the final third of the season, as they anticipate, they may need to be road warriors to get into the postseason.  Four of Tampa Bay’s last six games are on the road, with trips scheduled for Detroit in Week 12, Carolina in Week 13, St. Louis in Week 16 and New Orleans in Week 17.  The franchise should be used to that, however; the Bucs also played four of their last six away from home in 2011, 2009 and 2006.  Of course, that means a cluster of home games elsewhere on the schedule, as the Bucs will be home for all but a few days between Sept. 23 and Nov. 23.  The eight-week stretch between a Week Three contest at New England and a Week 12 trip to Detroit includes five home games, a bye week, a short jaunt to Atlanta and the one long swing to Seattle.
  •  On the other hand, it does not appear as if the team will be subject to much cold weather in 2013.  Three of those last four road games will be played in domes (Detroit, St. Louis and New Orleans).  An outdoor game against Carolina on December 1 could be chilly, but the Bucs drew their Seattle trip in early November to go with September jaunts to New Jersey and Foxborough.
  •  The Dolphins will make just their third regular-season trip to Tampa in the last 25 years.  The last two Buccaneer-Dolphin games in Tampa were both victories for the home team – a 31-21 win on TNT Sunday Night Football on Sept. 21, 1997 and a 27-13 decision on Oct. 16, 2005. The in-state rivals have met just nine times in the regular season, and this year’s game will give the Bucs an opportunity to tie the all-time series at five wins apiece.
  •  Speaking of AFC East opponents, the Bucs will be trying for just their second win ever against the Jets in the season opener, and their first road win in the series.  The Bucs lone victory over the Jets occurred in the 1984 season finale, a 41-21 decision in which James Wilder set the NFL single-season record (since broken) with 407 carries.  Of all the opponents on the Bucs’ 2013 schedule, the Jets are the team against which Tampa Bay has gone the longest since defeating.

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