Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Joe Smith and Greg Auman

A look at what the Bucs' schedule has in store after the bye

5

October

When the NFL released its schedule in the offseason, the Bucs figured to have a fairly difficult start to their season with their early-season lineup of games.

With three-fourths of the NFC East and the always-dangerous Panthers on the slate, you probably figured it would be a struggle to get to this week’s bye with a winning record.

So, here the Bucs sit at 1-3 with the Chiefs visiting Tampa after this open weekend. This gives us a chance to look ahead at what’s in store down the stretch. With a quarter of the season complete, we now have a little bit of a picture of what other teams look like.

That makes this a good time to look closely at the rest of the Bucs’ schedule and what their remaining games might have in store.

Take a look:

Oct. 14: Chiefs – A very winnable game. Kansas City has a potent offense but turnovers and quarterback issues have resulted in a 1-3 start.

Oct. 21: Saints – New Orleans is a mess without coach Sean Payton, but this is a rivalry game and the matchups between these clubs can go either way.

Oct. 25: at Vikings – Who would have bet these guys would be leading the NFC North after four games? They have an underrated defense and a vibrant home crowd.

Nov. 4: at Raiders – The Bucs will have 10 days to prepare, but those West Coast trips tend to be killers. No easy chore.

Nov. 11: Chargers – Though woefully inconsistent, they’re actually off to a strong 3-1 start. And no matter their record, this is going to provide a stiff test for the Bucs defense.

Nov. 18: at Panthers – We’ll see whether Cam Newton and his coaches learned anything after losing in the opener. The Bucs defense dominated that game.

Nov. 25: Falcons – This is not a team anyone wants to play, but the Bucs will see them twice in six weeks. Falcons are likely to be the heavy favorite here.

Dec. 2: at Broncos – This is going to be a tall order. Maybe Peyton Manning isn’t at his best in outdoor, cool-weather games, but how bad can he be?

Dec. 9: Eagles – Is Michael Vick still on the field by this point? If so, the Eagles are likely to be in the race for the NFC East title and will be highly motivated.

Dec. 16: at Saints – The Saints could be out of the playoff race at this point unless they have a dramatic turnaround. Still, you have to assume that won’t matter to Drew Brees.

Dec. 23: Rams – The defense they displayed Thursday night against the Cardinals can’t be overlooked. But the Bucs defense, if any good at all, should match up well here.

Dec. 30: at Falcons – The best-case scenario here is the Falcons have already clinched and have nothing to gain. Otherwise, they’re the class of the NFC right now.

[Last modified: Friday, October 5, 2012 11:04am]

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