No Schedule Just Yet

A story on Buccaneers.com in late March regarding scheduling trends noted a tweet by a Sports Business Journal reporter who believed the NFL’s 2013 schedule would be released on April 16.  By the way, that’s tomorrow.

Not going to happen.

On Monday, the league announced on NFL.com that there is, as of yet, no date set for the schedule to drop.  Given that it is now April 15 (hope your taxes are in the mail!) and there has been no pre-drop hype from the NFL, this comes as little surprise.  The best guess now is that the 2013 schedule will be released next Tuesday, just two days before the draft begins, on April 23.  It’s becoming difficult to wait.

This is not unprecedented, though.  While the schedule release date has gradually drifted from late March to mid-April, usually falling the week before the draft, it has gone late this before.  In 2010, it was released on the Tuesday before the draft, just as it likely will be this year.  It is unlikely that the league will wait until after the draft, but so far the schedule has “not been finalized,” according to league spokesman Greg Aiello.

The Buccaneers.com story linked above noted a few trends in the Bucs’ recent schedules.  Most notably, the team has started each of its last four seasons with a home game, and that’s the first time that’s ever happened in team history.  That certainly makes one guess that Week One will be a road trip for the Bucs this time around, but that would be falling prey to the infamous “Gambler’s Fallacy.”  If you’re flipping a coin, the odds before you start of getting heads five straight times is just one in 32, or 3.1%.  However, if you’ve already flipped heads four times, the odds of the fifth flip being heads is still one in two, or 50%, like always.

Of course, the coin flip analogy isn’t perfect, because there are reasons behind the scheduling of the games, not just randomness.  Still, if one assumes that the issue of whether or not the Buccaneers (or any team other than the defending champs) start the season at home is not of much importance to the schedule-makers in the grand scheme of things, then it still feels like a 50-50 shot.

It says here that the streak is going to end though.  My prediction for the opener: at St. Louis.  The Bucs started last season against a division opponent (Carolina) and that has been about a 50-50 proposition since 2002 as well, so I’m going with a non-division game this year.  The Rams and Buccaneers are two teams that began an ascent last year under new head coaches (Greg Schiano in Tampa, Jeff Fisher in St. Louis) and have reason to believe they can be playoff contenders in 2013.  Both teams have young quarterbacks with something still to prove but the potential for very big things.  There’s even a bit of history between the two clubs, dating back to the thrilling 1999 NFC Championship Game and a series of exciting prime-time matchups in the years that followed.  Some savvy schedule-maker could see this is an interesting game for both fan bases.

What do you think?  A fifth straight opener at home for the Bucs?  Week One against the Falcons for the first time since the NFC South was formed?  Give us your guesses in the discussion below.

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