The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will get a visit from the New York Giants and a trip to Detroit next fall as a result of the final 2018 standings.
The NFL’s scheduling formula, based on rotating division matchups, means that teams can know years in advance who will they be playing the next season, even before the league releases its full schedule in the spring. The Buccaneers, for instance, know that they will play all the teams in the NFC West and the AFC South in 2019, and they know where they will play them based on where the game was held the last time through each rotation. That’s eight of the 16 games, and another six are obviously occupied by home-and-away series against the Buccaneers’ opponents in their own division.
That leaves two games that are determined by the previous year’s standings. Each year, the Buccaneers have four games against the NFC division that the NFC South is paired with, plus one game each against an opponent in the two other divisions in the conference. Those two games are determined by matching the division standings; the team in first in the South plays the team in first in the other two divisions, and so on.
The Buccaneers finished fourth in the NFC South after falling to 5-11 with Sunday’s season-ending loss to Atlanta. That means they get a home game against the Giants, who finished fourth in the NFC East, and a road game against the Lions, who finished fourth in the NFC North. That produces the following opponent list for 2019: