We are entering the fourth month of the NFL season, and what happens over the next few weeks will help determine whether it's the last for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Games are scheduled for the first weekend in January, but it's not looking like the Bucs will be playing much deeper into the month than what's already mandated. A hot 3-1 start has been rendered irrelevant thanks to a 1-6 stretch since the team's bye week. The Bucs are still in the throes of that losing streak, with a win against the Titans being the only blip in an otherwise uninterrupted downward trajectory.
Sunday's game against the Panthers will be pivotal for the Bucs, in both good and bad ways.
If Tampa Bay can manage to win, it'll be right back in the race for a division title. The Bucs are just a game out of first place, and both Atlanta and Ne Orleans have tough matchups on Sunday. On the flipside, a loss to a 1-10 team at home might spell the end for head coach Todd Bowles and his coaching staff.
The writing is already on the wall, and while fans have been calling for his head for weeks it doesn't sound like he'll get fired during the season. While that may be the case, a loss to the Panthers on Sunday might seal the deal for when Black Monday officially arrives.
It's safe to say plenty is on the line on Sunday.
What time do the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play today? (December 3rd)
Originally this game was scheduled to be another early slate matchup, but the NFL shuffled its scheduled up a few weeks ago and impacted the start time.
Instead of playing a 1pm ET, the Buccaneers will play at 4:05pm ET. It's the second time the Bucs have been flexed, but it's for entirely different reasons than the first time around.
Back in Week 6 the Bucs-Lions game was flexed out of the early window and into FOX's Game of the Week block. At the time it featured two first place teams in what felt like a potential playoff preview, but we all know what has happened since. Now the Bucs are being flexed as a way to get better games into better positions.
While the NFL didn't explain their reasoning, it seems that they wanted to move the Texans-Broncos game out of the late window and put it earlier so that it didn't conflict with the Eagles-49ers game. It makes sense, since the Broncos and Texans are surprises late in the season and that matchup all of a sudden has massive playoff implications.
Meanwhile, the Eagles-49ers game speaks for itself, and will be a game that the NFL wants all eyes on rather than having split attention. The fact that the Bucs are now a team the league sees as harmless counterprogramming says all you need to know about where they're at right now.
Here's all of the updated information you need to know to catch today's Bucs-Panthers game:
- Date: Sunday, December 3rd
- Start Time: 4:05 pm ET
- Location: Raymond James Stadium
- TV Channel: CBS
- Announcers: Tom McCarthy, James Lofton, Jay Feely
- Radio: WXTB 97.9 FM | More Affiliates
- Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket
The Bucs-Panthers game is the only CBS game scheduled for the late window, but it's not part of a doubleheader.