Breakdown: With the Buccaneers building with youth, there probably won’t be any overnight miracles. But look at the first three games on the schedule -- it’s at least possible the Bucs could start 2-1 or 3-0. They’ve got the Browns, Panthers and Steelers and it’s entirely possible Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger could be suspended for that game. In a bit of irony, Byron Leftwich, who was traded from Tampa Bay to Pittsburgh on Tuesday, could be starting for the Steelers that day.
The schedule only gets more difficult after a Week 4 bye, but the Bucs could build some momentum with a fast start. It’s a well-known fact the Buccaneers have struggled in cold weather since the franchise started. They’ve got potential cold-weather games in Baltimore and Washington.
Complaint department: The Buccaneers do not have a single game in prime time. Then again, did you really expect the NFL to put a team that was 3-13 last year on national television?
Blackout time?: The Buccaneers have sold out every game at Raymond James Stadium since they moved there in 1998. Keeping that streak alive might have involved some creative accounting last year because there sure appeared to be a lot of empty seats. But the world’s best ticket-sales force might not be able to prevent local television blackouts this year. The Bucs might be able to sell out the first two games against Cleveland and Pittsburgh because a lot of Tampa Bay residents are transplants from Ohio and Pennsylvania. Plus, the champion Saints come to town Oct. 17 and that game should take care of itself. But the Rams are coming to town Oct. 24. I’m thinking the only way that one sells out is if the Bucs are 5-0 and Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, Mike Alstott and Warren Sapp come out of retirement and sign with St. Louis.
Buccaneers Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 12, Cleveland, 1:00 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 19, at Carolina, 1:00 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 26, Pittsburgh, 1:00 PM
Week 4: BYE
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 10, at Cincinnati, 1:00 PM
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 17, New Orleans, 1:00 PM
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 24, St. Louis, 1:00 PM
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 31, at Arizona, 4:15 PM
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 7, at Atlanta, 1:00 PM
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 14, Carolina, 1:00 PM
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 21, at San Francisco, 4:05 PM
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 28, at Baltimore, 1:00 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 5, Atlanta, 1:00 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 12, at Washington, 1:00 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 19, Detroit, 1:00 PM
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 26, Seattle, 1:00 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 2, at New Orleans, 1:00 PM