Amidst the bleak despair that the prolonged NFL labor dispute has cast over the football fans’ lives, Tuesday night’s 2011 schedule release has brought a momentary glimmer of joy to Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans throughout the Bay Area.
The NFL has given the Buccaneers a real treat for the upcoming season, that includes two prime-time games, two late afternoon divisional match-ups, and a desirable week eight bye week.
The jewel of the schedule is a week 4 Monday Night home game with the AFC powerhouse Indianapolis Colts. The game will mark a return to prominence for the Buccaneers, who have not hosted a MNF game since before former head coach Jon Gruden took over color analysis for the ESPN flagship football program.
Two divisional match-ups at the Atlanta Falcons week 3, and at New Orleans in Week 6 will also be played in the later 4:15 time slot, usually reserved by the networks for the marquee match-ups.
Finally, the Buccaneers team will be thrilled with a week 8 bye, as opposed to the early bye weeks of years past. The Bye later in the season is desirable because it helps break up the season for the players that may be dealing with the bumps and bruises of life in the NFL. The Bye also comes the week after the Buccaneers will travel across the pond to play the Bears in London, giving the team extra time to recover from any jet lag or other ill-effects of world hopping.
The Bucs’ full schedule is below:
Week 1 (September 11): vs. Lions, 1:00 PM
Week 2 (September 18): at Vikings, 1:00 PM
Week 3 (September 25): vs. Falcons, 4:15 PM
Week 4 (October 3): vs. Colts, 8:30 PM – Monday Night Football
Week 5 (October 9): at 49ers, 4:05 PM
Week 6 (October 16): vs. Saints, 4:15 PM
Week 7 (October 23): vs. Bears, 1:00 PM – NFL International Series
Week 8 (October 30): Bye.
Week 9 (November 6): at Saints, 1:00 PM
Week 10 (November 13): vs. Texans, 1:00 PM
Week 11 (November 20): at Packers, 1:00 PM
Week 12 (November 27): at Titans, 1:00 PM
Week 13 (December 4): vs. Panthers, 1:00 PM
Week 14 (December 11): at Jaguars, 1:00 PM
Week 15 (December 17): vs. Cowboys, 8:20 PM – Saturday Night Football
Week 16 (December 24): at Panthers, 1:00 PM – Saturday game