Bucs seek rare 2-0 start on road to open season
Just how rare is it for an NFL team to open a season with two games on the road and still begin the year 2-0, as the Bucs try to do on Sunday?
The NFL doesn't hand teams back-to-back road games to start a season often -- just four teams had that this year, and in their first 40 seasons, the Bucs opened with two road games just four times. Across the NFL, over the past five seasons, only one NFL team -- the 2013 Miami Dolphins, no less -- opened its season with back-to-back road wins.
In the rare chance that an NFL team opens with a road win and has a chance at a second, those teams have gone 1-8 since 2011. The Bucs are actually one of three NFL teams with a chance to do that this weekend -- road teams went 9-7 in the NFL in Week 1, so the Packers and Bengals can also be 2-0 after two road games. Those 2013 Dolphins only finished 8-8, missing the playoffs, but the last NFC team to open with two road wins was the 2009 Vikings, who went 12-4.
In the Bucs' four previous seasons opening with two road games, they went a combined 2-6, going 0-2 to open in 1984 and 1998 and splitting the first two in 1995 and 2001. And keep in mind, over 40 years of Bucs history, Tampa Bay is 30-50 in Weeks 1 and 2 -- that's 17 seasons of going 0-2, 16 seasons of 1-1 starts and just seven years of opening 2-0. (They've gotten better, as the Bucs were 0-2 at the start of eight of their first 11 seasons).
What does a 2-0 start portend for a Bucs team? Five of the seven Bucs teams to open 2-0 have finished with winning records, and four made the playoffs, with the only exceptions coming in 1980 and 1992, each with five total wins. The last four Bucs teams to open 2-0 earned at least 10 wins, including the 2010 team, which went 10-6 but just missed the playoffs.
So while a win at Arizona won't be easy for the Bucs, it would give them a huge boost to open the season, something no Tampa Bay team has had before.