The old March weather — “in like a lion, out like a lamb” — seems to apply to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 2022 game schedule as well.
Of course not the weather Yes, really that’s predictable from year to year, and neither is the list of the NFL’s top teams, by the way. Still, Tampa Bay is facing what may be the toughest first month of any team in the league this year, but if they can stay mid-race through December, they could catch a little break.
All of this is based on the overall idea that the teams that did very well last year will come through again this year and the teams that struggled in 2021 will struggle again. We know that won’t be the case everywhere – for the past five years, pretty much an average of seven teams per season have made it to the playoffs after failing to do so the year before – but a schedule of 11 opponents who Making it in the postseason in at least one of the last two years will definitely have its fair share of challenges.
The Buccaneers look set to take on the Lions in weeks one through four as they begin back-to-back road trips to Dallas and New Orleans and return home to find the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers. All but New Orleans were in the playoffs last year…and if we count the Saints easy Game here, we have to forget the seven-game regular-season winning streak that New Orleans has in its neck-and-neck streak with Tampa Bay.
Overall, these four opponents had a combined win percentage of .676 last year and went 46-22 as a group. That’s by far the highest SOS (strength of schedule) number in the first four games for a team this season. Next is Kansas City — which obviously has the Bucs on their first monthly plan — at .618. Only these two teams and the Buffalo Bills are over .600.
The Buccaneers also have the fourth hardest first half of the season (defined as the first eight games) with an SOS of 0.555. Only Kansas City, Buffalo and the Rams have it harder. However, things ease up in the second half and final month of the season. The Bucs’ SOS in their last nine games is .516, which is only 12th-hardest in the league. And her last four contests produce a .485 SOS, which is the 18th hardest. Even then, these final four weeks include a matchup with defending AFC champion Bengals and 2021 Arizona playoff team.
In another way, the Buccaneers got lucky with the 2022 schedule design. Of course, every team in the NFL gets a bye week, but an oddity about Tampa Bay’s schedule is that it won’t come with a single team out of It’s a bye week all season long. Additionally, the Bucs are not playing a team emerging from what is known as a “mini-bye,” the long weekend that follows a Thursday night game.
It all adds up to a plus eight-day rest period for the Buccaneers in 2022, the fourth-highest total in the league. Buffalo has a plus-12 rest day disparity to top the list, followed by Detroit at plus-11 and Denver at plus-nine. Both the Bucs and Cowboys are up plus eight.
The Buccaneers get 10 rest days on the plus side due to their Thursday night game in week eight and their bye in week 11. Tampa Bay will play the Rams on 10 rest days in Week 9, compared to LA’s typical seven. who played San Francisco at home last Sunday. When the Bucs bid farewell in Week 12, they play a team from Cleveland who were in action in Buffalo last Sunday.
The only two rest days the Buccaneers have lost to their opponents come after their Monday night matchup against New Orleans in Week 13 and their Sunday night game in Arizona at Christmas. The Bucs will play six rest days in San Francisco compared to seven for the 49ers, who will have been home to Miami last Sunday. And with the majority of the league playing Saturday over Christmas weekend, the Bucs’ normal seven days off for Week 17 will be one fewer than what Carolina gets after their Week 16 home game against Detroit.