Fri, 01 Jul 2022

Tampa Bay BuccaneersThe 2022 NFL schedule has dropped and we're going to study it in depth with a week-long series of Roundtable articles, beginning with today's debate between Brianna Dix, Amy Schwartz and Scott Smith over their most anticipated game of the year by Brianna Dix, Amy Schwartz & Scott Smith

The NFL spent a week dropping breadcrumbs like Hansel and Gretel, leading up to the door of their big 2022 schedule reveal. That door was flung wide open on Thursday night and all 272 regular-season games from September 8 to January 8 were announced, including the 17 that will feature the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Now that we know when Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers are coming to town, when the Bucs will get their shot at revenge against the Los Angeles Rams and how many times Tom Brady and company will be under the prime-time spotlight, it's time to take a closer look at how the 2022 schedule will unfold. We're going to do that with a series of Roundtable debates between me, Staff Writer/Reporter Brianna Dix and Digital Contributor Amy Schwartz over the next week.

Here's the Roundtable schedule for the week:

Friday, May 13: What is your most anticipated game on the Bucs' 2022 schedule?

Monday, May 16: What is one thing you would change about the Bucs' schedule if you had the power?

Tuesday, May 17: What one thing would you most like to thank the NFL schedule makers for this year?

Wednesday, May 18: What is the toughest stretch of games on this year's schedule?

Thursday, May 19: Who is the top rookie the Buccaneers will face on their 2022 schedule.

Today's topic is perhaps the most subjective of the five. We will be choosing which of the 17 games and dates that we personally are most looking forward to watching. The criteria can be whatever we want - competitiveness, star power, deep-seated feelings about the opponent, specific player matchups and so on.

In order to get a wider variety of answers, we are going to establish the rule that picks cannot be duplicated. That potentially makes the order of responses important, so we will rotate that order in each post. Since Brianna is newest to our staff (welcome aboard!), we'll give her first pick today, with Amy going second and me third.

So, what game on the Bucs' 2022 schedule is everyone looking forward to the most?

Brianna Dix: Green Bay Packers, Week Three

The obvious answer would be the revenge game against the Los Angeles Rams but the marquee matchup I am impatiently waiting for is Week Three against the Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers and company will be coming to town, aiming to get a lingering bitter taste out of their mouths. The last time the two teams faced, the Bucs upset the Packers at Lambeau Field in the 2020 NFC Championship Game and went on to make history, becoming the first team to secure a home-stadium Super Bowl. The Packers on the other hand, watched from the couch. This year, the two storied franchises will meet again.

In the modern era of the NFL, it does not get better than Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, facing off. Both the Bucs and Packers sit atop the NFC hierarchy in 2021 alongside the Rams and will aim for total dominion in 2022. Week Three will serve as a measuring stick game early on. Green Bay took back-to-back defenders in Round One of the 2022 NFL Draft with Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt, both expected to become immediate impact players. Wyatt possessed rare initial quickness at Georgia and good lateral range. He will improve the overall athleticism on the Packers' defense along with Walker. With open-field athleticism to mirror against the run, Walker has tremendous upside. On Day Two, the Packers traded up for pass-catcher Christian Watson, giving Rodgers a new vertical threat to target on post patterns.

The chess match between Todd Bowles and Matt LaFleur is one I am circling on the calendar. With Brady and Rodgers back for another showdown, both clubs are expected to be among the favorites to represent the NFC in this year's Super Bowl.

Amy Schwartz: Los Angeles Rams, Week Nine

I will take the most obvious answer here and choose the Los Angeles Rams as the most anticipated game of the season. The Divisional Round became an all-time heartbreaker when we saw Tom Brady lead the Bucs back from a 27-3 deficit to score 27 unanswered points. The comeback proved to not be enough when Rams kicker Matt Gay scored a game-winning field goal to end the Bucs season.

Bucs coaches and players have mentioned since that day how much the loss stung and stuck with them, which makes this season's matchup one to watch. These are two of the most elite rosters in the NFL and now the two most recent Super Bowl Champions will get a chance to battle it out again in Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs are 0-3 against the Rams since Tom Brady came to Tampa and the Week Nine matchup could be the ultimate test of just how far this roster can go this season. Plus, who doesn't love a Tom Brady revenge game?

Scott Smith: Cincinnati Bengals, Week 15

It almost feels criminal for us to make three picks and still not include Brady vs. Mahomes VI, but that's exactly what happened. There are just so many humdingers on the Bucs' schedule this year that we could easily do two rounds of this particular Roundtable and not run dry of excellent choices.

So, with apologies to Mr. Mahomes, I'm going with an even younger quarterback apparently destined for superstardom. The Cincinnati Bengals - who just happen to be defending AFC champs, by the way - are dramatically more interesting now that Joe Burrow is at the helm. The extent to which this guy just oozes confidence makes it easy to believe that the Bengals will be relevant for many years to come and that 2021 wasn't just a one-year fluke. The Bucs and Bengals will meet late in the season and it's very reasonable to think this game could feature one team that is in the thick of each conference playoff race. This one could be critical to how the seedings fall out in both the AFC and the NFC. The excitement level should be high.

In addition, I'm looking forward to seeing Ja'Marr Chase play in person. He's only been in the league one year but he might already be the most exciting wide receiver in the game. With a rebuilt offensive line (welcome back to Raymond James Stadium, Alex Cappa!), a loaded receiving corps and underrated running back Joe Mixon, this could end up being the most dynamic offense the Bucs' defense will have to face all season, and that is saying a lot.

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