As a condition of hosting Super Bowl LV in 2021, the NFL mandated that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers give up a home game to partake in the International Series in either London or Mexico City. On Monday, the league announced all five International Series match-ups for the 2019 season and we now know who the Bucs opponent will be and where.
Tampa Bay is set for an NFC South divisional battle with the Carolina Panthers in London in 2019 at either Wembley Stadium or the new Tottenham Hotspur’s Stadium (dates, times, and specific venues TBD). The Bucs and Panthers split the 2018 season series but Carolina has an overall 22-12 series lead since realignment brought both teams to the newly formed NFC South Division in 2002.
This will be one of four international games taking place in London during the 2019 NFL season. The other three will feature the Chicago Bears at the Oakland Raiders, the Cincinnati Bengals at the Los Angeles Rams, and the Houston Texans at the Jacksonville Jaguars.
For the Buccaneers, this will be the team’s third trip to London for a regular season game and first since 2011. In that 2011 game, the Bucs were defeated by the Chicago Bears. A heavy dose of Matt Forte had the Bears in front 21-5 going into the fourth quarter and a late Bucs rally fell short in a 24-18 defeat.
Prior to 2011, Tampa Bay’s only other appearance in London came in a 35-7 defeat at the hands of the New England Patriots in 2009. This game is noteworthy for being the debut of former Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman. With week 1 starter (and current Bucs offensive coordinator) Byron Leftwich already benched in favor of Josh Johnson, Johnson was lifted with the game already out of hand giving way to the start of the Josh Freeman era in Tampa Bay. Freeman would start the next game leading the 0-7 Bucs to a win over the Green Bay Packers and would remain the starter in Tampa until 2013.
With a favorable match-up, an extremely talented roster, and optimism surrounding the changes coming under head coach Bruce Arians and his staff, 2019 could present the Buccaneers with a chance to right the ship in London and bring back their first International Series victory.
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