Buccaneers Add New Opponent With 17th Game for 2021: Report

Tom Brady

Getty Tom Brady and company will play a 17th regular season game in 2021.

Tom Brady will see a familiar opponent as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers add another team to its schedule amid the NFL moving to a 17-game season for 2021.

The Bucs will play the Indianapolis Colts on the road this fall in Week 18 per Buccaneers.com.  The NFL announced the move to 17 games on Tuesday per Buccaneers.com’s Scott Smith.

Brady has seen the Colts many times in his career during his tenure in New England, which the Bucs also face in 2021. The Bucs quarterback has an 11-3 record against the Colt, which he last played against in 2018 when he led the Patriots to a 38-24 win.

He had many playoff moments against the Colts, particularly when Hall-of-Fame bound quarterback Peyton Manning played for them. Bleacher Report highlighted the top 10 clashes between Brady’s Patriots and Manning’s Colts, regular season and postseason.

Tampa last played the Colts in 2019, which the Bucs won 38-35 with Jameis Winston at quarterback in his final season with the team. It was head coach Bruce Arians’ first year coaching the Bucs. Arians notably coached in Indianapolis as an assistant during the 2000s. The Colts own an 8-6 lead in the all-time series against the Bucs.

Indianapolis has a playoff-caliber team, going 11-5 in 2020 before being bounced by Buffalo in the AFC Wild Card round. Former MVP candidate Carson Wentz will take the helm at quarterback for the Colts after Phillip Rivers retired following the 2020 season.

Brady and Wentz were on opposing sides in Super Bowl LII, though Wentz sat out with a torn ACL, when the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Patriots — Brady’s last Super Bowl loss.

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Why the Colts

Tampa only had AFC East teams scheduled in 2021 for interconference action initially, but the addition of an AFC South team, the Colts, stems from the league’s format in adding a 17th game.

NFC South teams will pay AFC South teams for the 17th game based on 2020 standings per Smith. The Bucs and Colts finished second in their divisions last year.

The league pairs the divisions for the 17th game based on the interconference rotation “from two seasons prior” per ESPN’s Kevin Seifert. The Bucs played the AFC West in 2020 and the AFC South in 2019.


Extra Week Impact

Tampa will have nine road games and eight homes games for the 2021 season with the additional game.

NFC teams will all go on the road for the extra game this fall but then host the extra game in 2022, alternating with the AFC according to Smith. Opponent selection hinges on the division standings from the previous season. Teams will play 20 games overall between the regular season and preseason, which is three games long now. The number of bye weeks — one — remains the same.

Players consented to a 17th game with the 2020 collective bargaining agreement, which included limiting the total games between the preseason and regular season to 20 according to Seifert. Teams previously played four preseason games.

The NFL’s schedule changes ends 43 years of of a 16-game regular season, dating back to the 1978 season. Seifert noted that some owners lobbied for the change in the past 10 years.


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