The Tampa Bay Buccaneers played an incredibly difficult schedule in 2019, a schedule that is starting to look even harder as the playoffs progress.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers played one of the hardest schedules in the NFL in 2019. The difficulty of this schedule stemmed from an incredibly long road trip and the quality of their opponents among other factors.
The Bucs played six games against playoff teams comprised of five unique teams. The 2019 schedule had two games against the New Orleans Saints, one game against the San Francisco 49ers, one game against the Tennessee Titans, one game against the Houston Texans, and one game against the Seattle Seahawks.
While the Buccaneers lost all of these games, several of these matchups came down to a single play that could have gone in the favor of the Buccaneers and transformed a loss into a win. As a whole, the Bucs only lost two of these games by more than a single score which shows just how close the Buccaneers actually were.
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The Bucs seemed the most out of their depth against the 49ers in the first game of the season. The 49ers have been one of the most impressive teams in the NFL this year and are currently the favorite to win the Super Bowl. A last second pick-6 inflated the margin of defeat for the Bucs by taking the score from 17-23 to 17-31.
The two games against the Saints were some of the sloppiest that the Buccaneers played all season. Tampa Bay never really had a chance in either game other than a brief lead in the first matchup. The Saints handily won the division but eventually suffered an overtime loss against the Minnesota Vikings in the Wild Card round.
While the Bucs were mostly outmatched in the first three games discussed, the following three games were much more even. The Buccaneers lost an extremely close game in overtime against the Seahawks, while a large part of the blame can be cast on injuries that plagued the Bucs and the rookies that were thrust into starting roles.
The Seahawks were able to win their first game in the playoffs in the Wild Card round against the Philadelphia Eagle. The Seahawks will now play against the Green Bay Packers for a spot in the NFC Championship.
Speaking of heart-breaking losses, the Bucs should have won their game against the Tennessee Titans. In the fourth quarter the Titans attempted a fake field goal on fourth down. Devin White blew up the play for an apparent fumble that went the other direction. Unfortunately, the referees seemingly incorrectly called the play dead and the Buccaneers were never able to recover from the four point deficit that should have been negated.
After a slow start to the season, the Titans were able to completely turn around their misfortune and have been one of the most impressive playoff teams of the year. Tennessee was able to defeat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Foxborough in the first round and Lamar Jackson and the Ravens in Baltimore in the second.
The final game that the Buccaneers lost against a playoff team was in week 16 against the Texans. The Bucs were extremely undermanned with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin out for the season and Breshad Perriman serving as the WR1. Despite the injuries, the Bucs only ended up losing by three points and were almost able to completely neutralize Deshaun Watson.
The Texans were able to compose an extremely impressive comeback against the Buffalo Bills in an upset win in the first round of the playoffs. As it stands now, it appears that the Texans’ playoff run will come to an end against the Kansas City Chiefs despite putting up 24 points in the first half.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have shown that they can play with almost anyone including most playoff teams. The Bucs were able to compete in very close games against two of the teams that have made it to their respective conference championship games while also putting up a fight against two other teams that are currently at large. This all bodes extremely well for the team that Bruce Arians has seemingly turned around and their outlook on 2020.