Despite the fact that NFL analysts believe they have the easiest schedule, the Dallas Cowboys do have some pretty tough matchups to get through this season. It’s likely that part of the reason analysts feel this way about the Cowboys is the NFC East itself. In fact, the four NFC East teams represent the teams with the four easiest schedules out of all 32 franchises. Dallas and Washington are tied at .462 for opponent win percentage, Philadelphia has .464, and the Giants have .465.
However, when you look at the Cowboys’ schedule, there are certainly some tough games on the docket. So much so, that it’s almost easier to pick the hardest stretch of games than it is to select the easiest. And while the NFC East may not be the strongest division, all of the teams had very impressive draft additions that may change things up in 2022.
The runner-up for the most difficult stretch was Weeks 15-18. Dallas will have to play on the road for three of their last four games and the home matchup is a rivalry one that will likely have playoff implications on Christmas Eve. However, Jacksonville, Tennessee, and Washington are far from the toughest opponents the Cowboys will face next season.
Which stretch of games in the Cowboys 2022 regular season will be the most difficult?
For us, the toughest stretch is unfortunately right at the top. Weeks 1-5 will be a big challenge for Mike McCarthy and his team for a number of reasons. Before we even talk about opponents, we can talk about the roster itself. It is highly likely that one of the two top receivers on the depth chart will be out for most of, if not all of these games. Michael Gallup, who is currently recovering from ACL surgery, was expected to be fully healthy by August, but later reports revealed that the acrobatic receiver may be out for at least the first two to three games of the year.
That means Dallas will be without one of its top receivers against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cincinnati Bengals, New York Giants, Washington Commanders, and LA Rams. Facing Tom Brady and Joe Burrow back to back wouldn’t be easy for the best teams in the NFL. Having your toughest games right at the start is always challenging. You can’t rely on momentum and you don’t have much time to make major adjustments.
While the New York game will certainly be easier, it is on the road, and Dallas will have to prepare for Kayvon Thibodeaux and Evan Neal with very little film to go off of. The Commanders at home should be a walk in the park, but that’s immediately followed by a road game against the reigning Super Bowl champions.
Hopefully, Gallup will be back by the Rams game at the very latest, which should bring a boost. Until then, Dak Prescott is going to be throwing to essentially one WR he has experience with, and that man (CeeDee Lamb) is only entering his third year. Prescott will have limited experience with James Washington, Jalen Tolbert, and Noah Brown.
Aside from Gallup, the Cowboys likely expect first-rounder Tyler Smith to start in Week 1 on the offensive line despite being young and raw. It’s also the first time the Cowboys will play without Randy Gregory and Amari Cooper. This could mean a lot of trouble for the ‘Boys, and it all comes at a very inopportune time. With tough games at the top, there’s no wiggle room to get used to certain aspects of the game for new members of the team.
The good news is these five games will truly show us who the 2022 Cowboys are. It will show fans how hungry this team is and what they were able to put together in the offseason. If Dallas can come out and win these tough games, the team’s haters will finally give the ‘Boys the respect they deserve. In the NFL, coming out strong and setting the tone is huge. Even though the Cowboys lost their opening game against the Bucs, their impressive performance in Prescott’s first game back gave them confidence and momentum for the beginning half of the season. Hopefully, America’s Team can come out with at least three wins in this challenging stretch. It will be a huge morale booster if they can.