THE 2017 SCHEDULE The end of April always means two things in the NFL calendar.  The draft and the release of the schedule.  And whilst one brings endless predictions about what will happen, the other brings a bunch of articles based around the expected finishing position of each NFL team by anticipating the results some months ahead of the games actually taking place.   Everyone thinks their team has been hosed, given unfair road trips and the supposed NFL bias against their own favourite team.   What looks like an easy run of games can often turn out to be a murderer’s row of opponents and a series of injuries can often leave even the hardest away game looking like a potential win.
WEEK 1 September 10      1pm    Fox at Miami Dolphins An inter-conference local road trip to open the season - the Bucs are 1-3 in South Florida. The all-time series is tied at 5-5 after Tampa Bay’s win on MNF in 2013.
WEEK 2 September 17     1pm    Fox v Chicago Bears The home opener is against the team we opened the stadium against 19 years earlier with a 27-15 victory.  The all-time series is 38-19 in favour of the Bears.
WEEK 3 September 24     1pm    Fox at Minnesota Vikings A first trip to the Vikings’ new stadium - Bucs are 9-18 all-time in the Twin Cities. Tampa Bay won on their last trip to Minnesota in 2012 on a Thursday night.
WEEK 4 October 1    4.05pm    Fox v New York Giants Just like 1998 again - the 2nd home game is against the Giants - the Bucs won that one 20-3.   But it is 2003 since Tampa Bay beat the NFC team from the Big Apple.
WEEK 8 October 29       1pm    Fox v Carolina Panthers The first divisional game of the season - sulky pouting Cam Newton comes to town. The Bucs won last year’s encounter in Tampa 17-16 in the season finale.
WEEK 7 October 22      1pm     Fox at Buffalo Bills Only the second-ever visit to upstate New York - the Buccaneers lost there in 2009. The series is 7-3 in favour of the Bucs, the best winning percentage of any team.
WEEK 6 October 15    4.05pm   Fox at Arizona Cardinals The Bucs were hammered there early last season and are 1-3 in the desert all-time with their 38-35 victory in 2010 being their successful trip.  The series is 9-10 Cards.
WEEK 5 October 5   8.25pm   NFLN v New England Patriots A Thursday night game with the Super Bowl champions - their first ever visit to Ray Jay.  The last time they were due to play there in 2009, the game was played in London.
WEEK 9 November 5     1pm    Fox at New Orleans Saints Followed by a road trip to the Bayou - could this be Drew Brees’ last season?   Tampa Bay’s first-ever victory came in the Superdome in 1977.
WEEK 10 November 12     1pm   CBS v New York Jets The Bucs are 1-10 all-time against the Jets by far their worst mark against any team. Their only win came in John McKay’s final game as head coach in 1984.
WEEK 11 November 26      1pm    Fox at Atlanta Falcons The Bucs have won their last two games in the Falcons’ own back yard.  The all-time series is now 24-23 in favour of the Buccaneers.
WEEK 12 December 3      1pm   Fox at Green Bay Packers The Bucs have won only once in Lambeau since 1989 - the Joey Galloway game in 2005.  A chance too for the Tampa PR team to see an old friend in Jason Wahlers.
WEEK 16 December 31      1pm    Fox v New Orleans Saints This will be the fourth time the Bucs have ended the season at home to New Orleans, the last being in 2015 when the Bucs, ahem, sealed the No.1 pick with a defeat.
WEEK 15 December 24     1pm    Fox at Carolina Panthers The final road game of the season against the hated Panthers.  Last year’s battle was a 17-14 Tampa victory as part of a sweep over the defending Super Bowl champions.
WEEK 14 December 16     8.30pm   ESPN v Atlanta Falcons A return visit for the Falcons for a nationally-televised Saturday night ESPN game.  The two sides met on a Thursday night last season.
WEEK 13 December 10       1pm    Fox v Detroit Lions The Lions have both their most recent trips to Raymond James Stadium.  The all-time series is 30-26 in favour of Detroit from all the NFC Central division battles.