If Patriots fans want to separately watch the Patriots and Bill Belichick and the Buccaneers and Tom Brady (and Rob Gronkowski) this year, they can do so at least 14 times. As noted by Mike Reiss of ESPN.com, the two teams don’t play at the same time until late in the 2020 season.
It happens on December 20, when the Patriots visit the Dolphins and the Buccaneers visit the Falcons, with the two games starting at 1:00 p.m. ET.
They’re also due to play simultaneously in Week 17, when the Patriots host the Jets and the Buccaneers host the Falcons at 1:00 p.m. ET. Assuming that Week 17 remains the last Sunday of the regular season (potential adjustments due to the pandemic could shift early-season weeks until after Week 17), there’s a chance one of the games will remain at 1:00 p.m. ET and the other will move to 4:25 p.m. ET or later, given the league’s effort to configure the final slate of games in a way that ensures contests with playoff ramifications are played at the same time.
The NFL says that the quirk in the scheduling of the New England and Tampa Bay games was not planned.
“Putting together the 256-game schedule is very complex — it’s a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Reiss regarding the Pats and Bucs schedules. “The minimal conflicts here are coincidental.”
Coincidental or not, Patriots fans who also remain #Tommy fans will be able to focus exclusively on games played by the two teams for nearly all of the season, without having to divide their attention and/or TV screens. If the decision wasn’t intentional, it should have been.