The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the NFL's hot ticket in 2020, tying for a league-high five primetime contests and nine nationally televised games -- all coming in the first 12 weeks. It helps that the Buccaneers are in the loaded NFC South and play the AFC North this year, but let's cut to the chase -- the Tom Brady effect is real.
Tampa Bay was able to land Brady this offseason, as the future Hall of Fame quarterback was arguably the league's most sought-after free agent since Reggie White. Once Brady signed, Rob Gronkowski came out of retirement to join the party and added even more star power to a talented Tampa roster.
The Buccaneers already had one of the league's best pass-catching units in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate before Gronkowski arrived. Tampa was able to retain Shaquil Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul, Ndamukong Suh, and Andrew Adams on a defense that finished fifth in the NFL with 28 takeaways and ended up with the No. 1 run defense in the league (73.8 yards per game), allowing 3.3 yards per carry.
There's plenty of hype surrounding the Buccaneers in 2020 with a talented roster led by arguably the greatest quarterback of all time and a head coach in Bruce Arians who can get the most out of his 42-year-old signal caller. Tampa is an intriguing watch, as fans will tune in to see how this team fares in a loaded NFC South, with four games against the AFC North.
Brady has many intriguing matchups on the schedule in his first season with the Buccaneers. Here are the five you do not want to miss:
1. Buccaneers vs. Saints
Week 1: at New Orleans (Sunday, Sept. 13, 4:25 p.m. ET)
Week 9: at Tampa Bay (Sunday, Nov. 8, 8:20 p.m. ET)
Brady vs. Drew Brees may be the most anticipated quarterback matchup ever, (it's already ). Brees ranks No. 1 in NFL history in passing yards (77,416) and touchdowns (547) while Brady is second in those categories (74,571 and 541). Brady ranks first in wins by a quarterback (249) while Brees is fourth (171).
These two are going to face off twice in the first nine weeks, as the frontrunners in the loaded NFC South. You're not going to want to miss Brady and Brees duel for just the sixth and seventh times in their career (and only the fourth and fifth times since 2007).
2. Buccaneers vs. Chiefs
Week 12: at Tampa Bay (Sunday, Nov. 29, 4:25 p.m. ET)
Brady and Patrick Mahomes have already engaged in epic duels in their brief history against each other, and 2020 could be the final time unless the Buccaneers face the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. We'll know if the Buccaneers are a contender in the NFC (or on the verge of competing for their first playoff berth since 2007) by Week 12, while the Chiefs are expected to be atop of the AFC -- so this will be a good litmus test for Tampa.
A subplot in this game will be Tampa's excellent run defense against Kansas City's rushing attack, which could make it even more likely that this is a shootout between Brady and Mahomes.
3. Buccaneers vs. Packers
Week 6: at Tampa Bay (Sunday, Oct. 18, 4:25 p.m. ET)
We don't get to see Tom Brady square off against Aaron Rodgers often, but the NFL is in for a rare treat this year. Brady and Rodgers have met only three times in their careers, with Brady holding the 2-1 edge. Unless the Packers and Buccaneers square off in the playoffs or finish in the same place in their respective divisions over the next two years, this may be the last time we'll see a Brady-Rodgers showdown.
The two QB greats have never played in a matchup against each other where their teams combined for more than 60 points. Perhaps the fourth time will be the charm.
4. Buccaneers vs. Rams
Week 11: at Tampa Bay (Monday, Nov. 23, 8:15 p.m. ET)
A Super Bowl LIII rematch between Brady and Jared Goff in primetime is a great way to close out the Week 11 slate of games. This is only the third matchup between Brady and Goff, but the first since the defensive slugfest in Super Bowl LIII.
Certainly both Brady and Goff will play better in this one, especially since the Buccaneers' offense should be much better than the Patriots unit that took the field in that Super Bowl. Goff can't play any worse than he did in that game, as well.
Expect a much better matchup this time around.
5. Buccaneers vs. Falcons
Week 15: at Atlanta (Sunday, Dec. 20, 1 p.m. ET)
Week 17: at Tampa Bay (Sunday, Jan. 3, 1 p.m. ET)
Another Super Bowl rematch here -- this time it's Brady vs. Matt Ryan from Super Bowl LI. Even better, the two Pro Bowl quarterbacks will square off twice in three weeks with a potential playoff berth on the line, with the Falcons another talented team in the loaded NFC South.
In four head-to-head meetings, Ryan has never beaten Brady (the 28-3 collapse in the Super Bowl has to be brought up here) and the quarterbacks have never faced each other past Week 7 of the regular season. They'll face off in Week 15 and 17 in 2020.
Perhaps this is the year Ryan finally gets the best of Brady. If he does, the Falcons may steal a playoff spot away from the Bucs.
Honorable mention: Buccaneers vs. Bears
Week 5: at Chicago (Thursday, Oct. 8, 8:20 p.m. ET)
If Nick Foles is the starting quarterback for the Bears, this easily makes the list. Who wouldn't want a Brady-Foles rematch from Super Bowl LII, when Foles out-dueled Brady in a game that featured the most combined yards in any NFL game (1,151) and a combined 874 passing yards (the most in any postseason game).
As you may recall, Brady threw for 505 yards -- and lost to the Eagles. Certainly he would like revenge for having arguably his best playoff performance ever and still taking the loss.