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Bucs 2024 schedule: Baker Mayfield and Co. to play 4 prime-time games

TAMPA ― A year ago, NFL executives and their network partners decided Baker Mayfield and the Bucs weren’t must-see TV.

You could tell by the too-early Week 5 bye and 11 kickoffs at 1 p.m., games that weren’t televised to much of the nation. It was the skid row of schedules.

But winning a third consecutive NFC South title, beating the Eagles in the wild-card round and dragging the Lions into the fourth quarter tied, 13 minutes away from possibly reaching the NFC title game, will sway opinions and attract viewers.

When the 2024 NFL schedule was released Wednesday night, the Bucs were rewarded with four prime-time, nationally televised games and a much-favored bye week halfway through November.

They will kick off the regular season by hosting Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels and the Commanders Sept. 8 at 4:25 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium.

Week 2 will feature a rematch of the division-round game against the Lions Sept. 15 in Detroit.

After welcoming the Broncos on Sept. 22, the Bucs will host the Eagles Sept. 29 in a rematch of their wild-card game.

Then comes their first prime-time game. The Bucs will play Raheem Morris, Kirk Cousins and the Falcons Thursday, Oct. 3 at 8:15 in Atlanta in a game that will be streamed live on Amazon Prime Video.

The three other national broadcasts are against division champions.

The Bucs will host reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson and the Ravens Oct. 21 on “Monday Night Football.”

After a home game Oct. 27 against the Falcons, the Bucs will return to “MNF” to play Patrick Mahomes and the Super Bowl champion Chiefs Nov. 4 in Kansas City.

Just six days later, they will host the defending NFC champion 49ers.

After playing the Super Bowl combatants in back-to-back games, the Bucs will enjoy their bye week.

But they will return to a daunting stretch, with four of their next five games on the road: Nov. 24 at the Giants, Dec. 1 at the Panthers (4:05), Dec. 8 at home vs. the Raiders, Dec. 15 at the Chargers (4:25) and Dec. 22 at the Cowboys on “Sunday Night Football.”

The regular season concludes with back-to-back home games against NFC South rivals.

The Bucs will host the Panthers on Dec. 29 and then finish Jan. 4 or 5 against the Saints. The date and time of the New Orleans game will be announced at a later date.

It’s a difficult schedule, with the Bucs facing five division champions, the maximum a team can play in a 17-game format.

Despite the four prime-time games, the Bucs again believe they’re being overlooked, since many pundits have predicted the Falcons will win the NFC South.

“We’re kind of used to it. I sometimes feel like, down here in Tampa, we’re in witness protection,” general manager Jason Licht said last week during an appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show.” “ ... There’s kind of a lack of respect.

“You can go on, like, (linebacker) Lavonte David, I think, is a Hall of Fame-type player. He doesn’t get enough credit as he should. (Wide receiver) Mike Evans just recently started getting talked about as a future Hall of Famer. So, we’re used to it, but you kind of use it as ammo.”

The Bucs also released their preseason schedule. They play Aug. 10 at the Bengals (7 p.m.) and Aug. 17 at the Jaguars (7:30) before concluding Aug. 23 at home against the Dolphins (7:30).

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