Tampa Bay Buccaneers' schedule features early divisional games, grueling road test

Jameis Winston and the Bucs face significant hurdles early on with their schedule, starting with a Thursday Night Football in Week 2 on the road. Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire

TAMPA, Fla. -- The NFL has released its 2019 regular-season schedule. Here's a look at what's in store for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Game-by-game prediction

Buccaneers reporter Jenna Laine is predicting an 8-8 finish:

Sept. 8: vs. San Francisco, Win

Sept. 12: at Carolina (Thursday night), Loss

Sept. 22: vs. NY Giants, Win

Sept. 29: at LA Rams, Loss

Oct. 6: at New Orleans, Loss

Oct. 13: vs. Carolina (London), Loss

Oct. 27: at Tennessee, Win

Nov. 3: at Seattle, Loss

Nov. 10: vs. Arizona, Win

Nov. 17: vs. New Orleans, Win

Nov. 24: at Atlanta, Loss

Dec. 1: at Jacksonville, Win

Dec. 8: Indianapolis, Loss

Dec. 15: at Detroit, Win

Dec. 21 or 22: vs. Houston, Loss

Dec. 29: vs. Atlanta, Win

Strength of schedule: 12th, .508

Frequent flyers

Thursday Night Football in Week 2 on the road is not at all ideal from a preparation standpoint for any team, let alone one with a new head coach and a new defense. Even worse is being on the road three-consecutive weeks, with trips to Los Angeles and London, and facing the top two teams in the NFC in 2018 in back-to-back weeks. During that three-week span, the Bucs will travel 28,144 miles round trip. The only consolation is a bye week immediately after. Unlike the last two years, where the Bucs' divisional games were heavily back-loaded, the Bucs will play all but one of their six divisional games before December.

Nice to see you again

In his first year as head coach of the Buccaneers, Bruce Arians will get to revisit his old NFC West and AFC South divisions. From 2013-17, his Arizona Cardinals finished 16-13 (.550) in the division, and his Indianapolis Colts went 3-1 in their division in 2012 when he served as interim head coach. Many would point to Seattle's CenturyLink Field as one of the most challenging stadiums to play in on the road (the Bucs have only played twice there), but Arians' Cardinals actually went 4-1 in Seattle -- remarkable considering the Seahawks went 30-10 at home during that span, the second-best home record in the NFL. The Bucs will need all the help they can get there, having only won twice there in six outings.

London calling

One of the conditions to being awarded a Super Bowl in 2021 was that the Bucs had to agree to give up a home game to play internationally in 2019. Many fans expressed concern over losing a home divisional game, but since 2015, the Bucs have actually had identical records against divisional opponents at home and on the road (5-7, .417). Going back further to 2010, the Bucs had just one more win at home during that span (10-17) against divisional opponents than they did on the road (9-18). What does hurt them, though, is that they've never won in London, losing to the Chicago Bears 24-18 in 2011 and 35-7 to the New England Patriots in 2009.