While the dates and times of the 2014 schedule won't be determined until the spring, the Buccaneers already know the 16 opponents they will face next season. Fourteen of those 16 were determined years ago as part of the NFL's scheduling formula, which has been based mostly on rotating divisional matchups since the 2002 realignment. The other two are based on the this year's final standings.
Next year, the four teams from the NFC South will be matched up with the four teams from the NFC North. Each team in the South will also play the team that matched their spot in the division standings from the NFC South and NFC West. Since the Buccaneers finished fourth in their own division, they gained matchups with the fourth-place Rams and Redskins. Had the Buccaneers won and finished in third place in the division, they would have played at home against Arizona and on the road against the New York Giants.
The NFC South will also be matched up with the AFC North in 2014, with the usual six intradivision games rounding out the schedule. Below is the full list of the Buccaneers' opponents in 2014:
- Green Bay
- New Orleans
- St. Louis
- New Orleans
The Buccaneers actually finished in a tie with Atlanta in the NFC South standings, but the applied tiebreakers gave the third-place spot to the Falcons. Atlanta and Tampa Bay split the head-to-head series and had identical records within the division and in common games. The fourth tiebreaker used in divisional standings is conference record, and there the Falcons come out on top with a 3-9 mark to the Buccaneers' 2-10. It might seem unusual to some that the Buccaneers finished below the Falcons in the standings but will pick after Atlanta in the draft, but that's because ties are broken differently in determining draft order. The draft simply uses strength-of-schedule to sort between teams with identical records.
The Bucs' 2014 schedule will also feature games against four of the last five Super Bowl winners (not including the upcoming Super Bowl XLVIII). Baltimore (XLVII), Green Bay (XLV) will visit Raymond James Stadium, the Bucs will take on Pittsburgh (XLIII) on the road and New Orleans (XLIV), of course, is on both the home and away slates.
The Bucs will get two chances at home next season to set a new record for their longest winning streak against any opponent. Tampa Bay has current six-game victory streaks against both Cincinnati and Minnesota, equaling their longest runs against any foe in franchise history (also vs. Atlanta, 11/9/97 to 9/21/03 and vs. Chicago, 12/21/97 to 9/10/00).
On the other side of that coin, the Buccaneers will have a chance to snap four-game losing streaks against both the Steelers and the Saints. Tampa Bay has not defeated Pittsburgh since 1998 and is 1-8 all-time against the Steelers.