For this weekend’s Pewter Report Roundtable, the crew tackles one other robust query. This week’s immediate: Which a part of the Bucs 2022 schedule presents the most important problem?
Scott Reynolds: Straightforward – It’s The Saints And Rams Video games
The largest problem to this yr’s Bucs 2022 schedule just isn’t essentially the robust four-game begin. It’s the truth that Tampa Bay will play the New Orleans twice (after all) and the Los Angeles Rams – once more. There isn’t a escaping the Saints. Each groups are within the NFC South, a division the Bucs lastly received final yr. Though they did regardless of getting swept by the Saints for a 3rd straight time within the common season. You’ll be able to say that the tide could flip now that Sean Payton has retired. I’ll remind you that Payton truly missed final yr’s 9-0 victory over the Bucs in Tampa Bay final yr.
That signifies that new head coach Dennis Allen is already 1-0 versus the Bucs. Neglect the thorn within the aspect analogy. Payton has been a dagger within the coronary heart of the Bucs for years. The Saints have ripped off seven straight wins within the common season, relationship again to the 2018 season opener. However actually it’s been Allen’s protection that has posed the most important drawback for the Bucs throughout that span. Tampa Bay proved final yr it may possibly nonetheless win the downtrodden NFC South with out even beating New Orleans. However it could positive be good to truly get a “W” over the Saints within the common season and finish that streak. Tampa Bay performs at New Orleans in Week 2 and hosts the Saints on Monday
The Tremendous Bowl champion Rams pose an excellent larger drawback for the Bucs. This yr’s Tremendous Bowl might as soon as once more undergo L.A., which has overwhelmed Tampa Bay three straight instances. Sean McVay’s offense has bested Todd Bowles’ protection in each contest because the Rams have averaged 30.3 factors per recreation in all three wins. Getting a win in Week 9 at house would do wonders for the Bucs’ confidence, particularly if the 2 groups have to satisfy once more within the postseason.
Matt Matera: Bucs Barely Have A Break From Late October Until Christmas
The primary 4 video games are most likely the hardest stretch, however you get a pleasant three-week break after that. In a while within the season although, the schedule barely lets up for nearly two months! It begins off on a brief week with the Ravens, who’re all the time a troublesome matchup. Then it’s the staff that the Bucs haven’t been ready to determine during the last two seasons – the Rams. After a visit to Germany to play the Seahawks in a winnable recreation, the schedule picks up proper once more after the bye.
For this subsequent one, loads of this recreation is determined by whether or not DeShaun Watson is eligible to play. If he’s, then the Browns simply grew to become one other heavy hitter on the schedule. It’s important to journey to a chilly climate place after a bye to face Watson, Amari Cooper and Nick Chubb? That’s not simple. Your reward after that may be a Monday evening matchup in opposition to the opposite staff that’s had your quantity within the common season – the Saints.
Going after that, the Bucs have two journeys out west in three weeks, plus a matchup with the AFC champion Bengals. The west coast video games are very intriguing. The 49ers simply made it to the NFC Championship recreation final yr and are a quarterback away from compiling an excellent higher Tremendous Bowl contender. The Cardinals are additionally a playoff staff that shouldn’t be taken frivolously. From late October till Christmas time, there’s possibly one recreation you’ll be able to put in as a win for the Bucs. All of the others are actually going to must be earned.
J.C. Allen: First 4 Video games Will Set The Tone
The schedule makers did the Bucs no favors giving them essentially the most troublesome stretch of video games to open the season. It kicks off with an away recreation in opposition to Dallas, a rematch of final yr’s season opener that got here all the way down to the wire. The Bucs had been capable of escape with a 31-29 win on a last-second area objective. The Cowboys got here dangerously near spoiling the Bucs’ banner opener in 2021 and may have an opportunity to deal them their first lack of the season on Sunday Night time Soccer.
That recreation is adopted up by a visit to NOLA to face the thorn-in-the-side Saints. Winner of seven straight common season contests, New Orleans has Tampa Bay’s quantity. After all the Bucs beat them when it counted most within the 2020 playoffs, however they haven’t been capable of get that common season monkey off their again in over three years. The Bucs have misplaced in embarrassing style to the Saints in every of the final two seasons. Tom Brady is 0-4 in opposition to New Orleans whereas in crimson and pewter. If Brady and the Bucs need to win the division they’ll have to exorcise the demons and hand the Saints and early season loss.
That’s adopted up by two consecutive house video games. Good, proper? Unsuitable! The Bucs will host a pair of MVP quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes in back-to-back weeks. There are some query marks on offense for each of those groups, after dealing away their famous person receivers. But each the Packers and Chiefs made concentrated efforts within the offseason to enhance their defenses. These groups current loads of challenges offensively with two of one of the best offensive minded coaches within the league. The Bucs might want to get the ball rolling early with some wins to keep away from falling into an early gap.
Josh Queipo: Weeks 12-16 Will Make Or Break The Bucs Yr
Everyone seems to be making an enormous deal out of the primary 4 weeks of the yr. And I get it. These are 4 robust video games in opposition to gifted opponents. However in all 4 matchups the Bucs will face opponents actually making an attempt to ascertain timing and continuity with new offensive playmakers. To me, that lends itself within the Bucs’ favor.
However have you ever seen the “stretch run” portion of the Tampa Bay schedule? From the final recreation in November by way of the complete month of December, the Bucs face what could possibly be fairly the gauntlet. Coming off the bye week following the Germany recreation, Tampa Bay must endure an away/house alternation that has them face Cleveland, New Orleans, San Francisco, Cincinnati, and Arizona. Say what you’ll about how issues can go south for every of these groups, however there isn’t a single layup within the group. Every staff has the potential to be a playoff contender. And except the Saints, every staff has an excellent likelihood to be a top-notch offense.
The schedulers did the Bucs no favors with this stretch with reference to capitalizing on these opponents’ misfortunes, both. Most certainly each Deshaun Watson of the Browns and DeAndre Hopkins of the Cardinals may have returned from looming suspensions by the point the Bucs face their groups. Most individuals imagine it’s December that may make or break a staff’s season. This yr that mantra might be particularly emphasised within the Bucs schedule.
Bailey Adams: Beginning Off With Again-To-Again Street Video games
Even earlier than the schedule dropped Thursday evening, we already knew the Bucs would have it robust in 2022. Assembly the complete NFC West and AFC North divisions, in addition to the NFC East and NFC North winners, was all the time going to be a problem. Add within the Chiefs, too, and that’s fairly the slate of opponents. The best way all of it units up for Tampa Bay has its share of obstacles – and a few lighter stretches – however what stands proud to me is the back-to-back street video games to open the season. The Bucs are considered one of solely three groups to have two away video games to start out the season, with the Colts and Patriots being the opposite two. Indianapolis faces Houston and Jacksonville, although. Does that even depend?
The Bucs will get the yr underway with a Sunday Night time Soccer matchup in Dallas in opposition to the Cowboys. Final yr’s assembly between the 2 sides in Tampa was troublesome sufficient, however now this one might be on the street. And as of proper now, Chris Godwin’s availability for it’s in query, which actually received’t assist. Happening the street and escaping Jerry World with a win might be onerous sufficient, however what follows is a visit to New Orleans. The Saints have lengthy been the Bucs’ kryptonite. We thought that they had gotten previous it within the NFC Divisional Spherical final January, however then they had been swept within the common season once more in 2021. In some unspecified time in the future, the Bucs must recover from the hump, proper?
You’d prefer to see the Bucs cut up these two video games, not less than. However they’ll be up in opposition to two strong groups in two hostile environments. Drop the opener in Dallas and the strain amps up for Week 2 in New Orleans. Lose them each, and also you come house at 0-2. After all, the truth that you’re coming house to face the Packers and Chiefs provides one other component to it. Tampa Bay received’t make or break its season with its first two (or 4) video games, however the staff received’t have a second to ease into issues as they give the impression of being to make a run again to the Tremendous Bowl.