Bucs face tough schedule, tough passers

by Gary Shelton on May 13, 2022

in general

Bowles faces tough schedule./TIM WIRT

Friday, 3 a.m.

It's the NFL. It isn't supposed to be easy.

Still, if you are a member of the Tampa Bay Bucs, a glimpse at the gantlet that awaits in 2022 seems rather daunting.

The Bucs face the league's fourth-toughest schedule -- a half-game behind Cincinnati -- as they try to return to the Super Bowl. Just as imposing is the way the schedule lines up. There are pockets of trouble throughout the season.

For instance, there are five primetime games. There are four others at 4:25 p.m. (Other games could be flexed). There is one game that will be played at 9:30 a.m.

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Take the start, for instance. The Bucs start off with two difficult road games. They open at Dallas against the explosive Cowboys, a team they barely beat (31-29) a year ago. Then they travel to New Orleans, a place of nightmares for Tampa Bay over the years.

But the stretch isn't over. The Bucs return home, hosting the dangerous Green Bay Packers and then the Kansas City Chiefs, the team they beat in the Super Bowl two seasons ago.

The Bucs then play Atlanta, at Pittsburgh and at Carolina in a row. Then comes a streak where the team plays the Ravens, the Rams, the Seahawks (in Germany) and, after a bye week, the Browns, who will probably have Deshaun Watson by then.

Following that is a home games against the Saints, at trip to the 49ers (who reached the NFC title game last year) and at Arizona in a Christmas night game.

The Bucs close out the season at home against Carolina and on the road in Atlanta. In all, there are 10 national TV games.

It's a grueling schedule, one that will test the Bucs' secondary (and pass rush). The slate features (among others) Dak Prescott, Jameis Winston, Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Matt Stafford, Watson, Winston (again), Trey Lance, Joe Burrow and Kyler Murray. Rodgers, Mahomes and Jackson have all won the NFL MVP award.

Then there are the defenses that await Tom Brady. New Orleans (4), Dallas (7), Kansas City (8), San Francisco (10), Seattle (11), Arizona (12), Green Bay (13), Cleveland (14) and the Rams (15) were all in the top half of the league in fewest points allowed last year. Cincinnati, Baltimore and Pittsburgh were also in the top 20.

The Bucs have only one opponent -- Atlanta -- among the league's bottom 10 defenses.

The Bucs will play five division winners in 2022 (Dallas, Geeen Bay, Kansas City, the Rams and the Bengals).

NFL.com projected the Bucs to win 11.7 games this season.

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