Heading to London in 2019, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are forced to forfeit a home game against their NFC South rival Carolina Panthers.
With the NFL gaining more popularity across the globe, the international series continues to expand. In England, games are now being played in more locations than just Wembley Stadium, and for the third time since the inception of the series, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are headed back across the pond.
In the previous two trips to see Big Ben, the Buccaneers have not been able to come out on the winning end. In 2009, the Bucs were defeated 35-7 by the New England Patriots and in 2011, the Bears took down Tampa Bay by a score of 24-18. In both instances previous, the Buccaneers has been the home team, robbing them of a game in Tampa Bay.
When the Bucs head to the UK to take on division rival Carolina Panthers in 2019, they again will be forfeiting a home game in the name of having the honor of being the home team overseas. This is where the NFL got it wrong and has did over the Buccaneers.
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It’s okay to be selected to play overseas for the third time, that actually sounds like a cool thing to have done that many times. but it is frustrating for fans as they have one less opportunity to see the Bucs play in Tampa Bay; a tough pill to swallow.
In addition to snatching a home game from the Bucs, the NFL chose to make it against a division opponent, meaning that Carolina will not have to face their NFC South foes in Tampa Bay. Of the 26 games played overseas, only 4 of the games have had division rivals, which feels like a slap in the face to the Buccaneers who will have to head to Carolina to play their other divisional game against the Panthers, while they get to play on a neutral site away from home.
The NFC south derby does not have a date yet, so it is unknown what week the two will play for a chance to better their hopes at the divisional crown. For reference, the Bucs played the Patriots on week 7 with a bye following and also played the Bears in week 7 with a week eight bye.
The bottom line is the league gave the Bucs the short end of the stick with this decision. With the Cardinals, Colts, Texans and for the second consecutive year 49ers all coming to Tampa Bay in 2019, the NFL could have made one of these non-divisional opponents the enemy of the Bucs on foreign soil. Instead, the Bucs draw the short end of the stick, and will have to play a crucial division game on foreign soil.