It’s safe to say that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are facing enormous expectations in 2022.

With legendary quarterback Tom Brady back for another season, it’s Super Bowl or bust for Tampa Bay.

Getting to the Super Bowl, however, won’t be easy. The Bucs have a tough start to the season, playing three teams that are considered “automatic” playoff teams, plus they have a matchup against the New Orleans Saints.

If the Bucs are going to repeat as NFC South division champs, there are three games on their schedule that I think are especially important.

Dec 26, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) on the field in the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Buccaneers vs Kansas City Chiefs (October 2)

This will be the Bucs’ second primetime matchup of the season and it’s a huge one. If Brady wants to prove he has plenty left in the tank, then he can start by beating Patrick Mahomes in early October. Not only is this a rematch of Super Bowl LV, but it could also be a preview of Super Bowl LVII.

Buccaneers vs Los Angeles Rams (November 6)

This could be a preview of the NFC Championship game. The Los Angeles Rams are the defending Super Bowl champs, so this will be a great opportunity for the Bucs to prove that they haven’t lost a step under new head coach Todd Bowles. If the Bucs win this matchup, I think they’ll be viewed as the Super Bowl favorites as the regular season winds down. It helps that this game is in Tampa since it’ll be the Rams dealing with the three-hour time difference instead of the Bucs.

Buccaneers vs New Orleans Saints (December 5)

Tampa Bay is the clear favorite in the NFC South, but if there’s a team that’s a threat it’s the New Orleans Saints (the Carolina Panthers nor the Atlanta Falcons should be a factor at all in 2022). The Saints have some questions at quarterback (is Jameis Winston really a good starting option?), but they have one of the best secondaries in the NFL, which could present problems for the Bucs. Tampa should easily win the division, but this game could still end up playing a major role in whether or not that actually happens.

Featured image via Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports