The Buccaneers have a talented roster, but Tampa Bay has its work cut out with the list of teams on its 2018 schedule.
Playing in a division that includes three playoff teams from last season is a good way to start in a hole. The Buccaneers have only two other 2017 postseason teams (Eagles and Steelers) on the docket, but they still face the fourth toughest schedule in the NFL with their opponents' combined winning percentage from last season at .531. And that's before you factor in the improvement teams like San Francisco and Chicago have made this offseason.
Below is a breakdown of the Buccaneers' schedule in 2018.
Buccaneers schedule 2018
Buccaneers regular-season schedule
|Date||Opponent||Kickoff time||TV network|
|Sept. 9||at New Orleans Saints||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Sept. 16||vs. Philadelphia Eagles||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Sept. 24||vs. Pittsburgh Steelers||8:15 p.m.||(ESPN)|
|Sept. 30||at Chicago Bears||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Oct. 14||at Atlanta Falcons||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Oct. 21||vs. Cleveland Browns||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Oct. 28||at Cincinnati Bengals||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Nov. 4||at Carolina Panthers||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Nov. 11||vs. Washington Redskins||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Nov. 18||at New York Giants||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Nov. 25||vs. San Francisco 49ers||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Dec. 2||vs. Carolina Panthers||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Dec. 9||vs. New Orleans Saints||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Dec. 16||at Baltimore Ravens||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Dec. 23||at Dallas Cowboys||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Dec. 30||vs. Atlanta Falcons||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
Buccaneers preseason schedule
|Week 1||at Miami||7 p.m.|
|Week 2||at Tennessee||8 p.m.|
|Week 3||Detroit||8 p.m.|
|Week 4||Jacksonville||7:30 p.m.|
MORE 2018 NFL SCHEDULES:
Five preseason games worth watching
Nov. 11 vs. Washington Redskins 1 p.m. (FOX)
Toughest tests: The Bucs finishing last in their division last season gives them the chance to play other fourth-place teams in the conference. For a team on the rise like Tampa, that should be a good thing, but it might not be the case this year. Last year's conference losers in San Francisco and Chicago have improved on paper and easily can give Tampa Bay a run for its money in those matchups.
Biggest breaks: The schedule overall is tough, but the Buccaneers caught a few breaks in drawing some of their more difficult opponents at home. Aside from the Bucs' divisional foes, the Eagles, Steelers and 49ers all have to travel to Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay of late has not had the greatest home-field advantage, but anything helps.
Bottom line: The Buccaneers have been the same team for a few years — on the cusp of breaking out. But that breakout hasn't happened yet, and their 2018 slate won't help. Having to play six games against the Saints, Panthers and Falcons is rough enough, but throw in teams like the Eagles and Steelers, and it's tough to see a winning season for Tampa Bay. Record prediction: 6-10