FRISCO, Texas – So the NFL has finally released the 2022 schedule. Our writers have weighed in on the most intriguing part from the Cowboys viewpoint?
Is it the start with Tom Brady and Joe Burrow? What about the end with two road games in cold weather? What about something in between?
Here are our initial thoughts on the schedule:
Rob Phillips: Most of the early picks in this year's draft class were devoted toward improving the offense, but the early portion of this year's schedule will challenge the defense. Three of the first five games are against Tom Brady, Joe Burrow and Matthew Stafford. A little later, a date with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers awaits a couple weeks before Thanksgiving. I do think Dallas is good enough to win double-digit games and the NFC East again, but I also don't buy that they have the league's easiest schedule based solely on 2021 opponents' records. The Eagles in particular have taken steps to get better within the division, so sweeping all six games again looks like a tougher chore. My eyes always drift to December first, because it's usually an unforgiving stretch, but that first month looks tougher on paper.
Mickey Spagnola: Other than starting the season off with a bang, facing Tampa Bay and Cincinnati right off the bat, but at least both games are home at AT&T Stadium, this 2022 Cowboys schedule seems fair, maybe one of the fairest they've had in several years. Don't see any significant speed bumps. Even to me, the Cowboys finally got a much fairer shake around Thanksgiving. Unlike previous seasons when they've been forced to play Sunday, Thursday, Thursday. This year the Cowboys play at Minnesota Sunday, Nov. 20, then home on Thanksgiving against the Giants for the first time since 1992 (Cowboys 30, Giants 3) and then a Sunday night home game Dec. 4 against Indianapolis. So, three games in 15 days. Unlike last year, having to play Sunday at Kansas City, home Thanksgiving against the Raiders and then at New Orleans the following Thursday, thus three games in 12 days before the extended break. Plus, the Cowboys mandatory Thursday night game comes on Dec. 29, a night game at Tennessee, but following their Saturday, Dec. 24 game on Christmas Eve at home against the Eagles. That means at least five days between games instead of the usual four if playing Sunday to Thursday. All in all, not bad, not bad at all.
David Helman: I think my main impression looking over this schedule is that the Cowboys had better come out of the blocks with some juice – not once, but twice. We do need to acknowledge that, on the whole, this team has fairly manageable strength of schedule, with six games coming against the NFC East. But man, it's hard not to feel daunted by playing Tampa, Cincinnati and the L.A. Rams in the first five weeks of the season. That's three of the last four Super Bowl teams, all at the outset of the year. And if that wasn't a steep enough challenge, how about the prospect of coming out of the bye week with back-to-back road trips to Green Bay and Minnesota? That's five big games that all get bunched up on the schedule. I'm not saying the Cowboys need to win them all, but they do run the risk of having that snowball against them if they can't find a way to beat some of these tougher opponents.
Nick Eatman: I just remember Bill Parcells always saying something like "let's not even talk about the playoff picture until we get to Thanksgiving." That's usually long enough into the season to determine if a team is good or not. Well if that's the case, it's going to be very interesting to see where the Cowboys are after playing the Giants. Because if they are at least close to .500, then they should be in position to make a run. Even if they're not, maybe that's the time to make up some ground. Nothing is a gimme but games against the Colts and Texans at home, at Jacksonville and even Philly at home are all games that can be won. Finishing the year on the road with two games won't be easy but again, maybe the momentum can be built in that four-game span. And who knows, if the Cowboys are already in a good spot by Thanksgiving, maybe they can pull away and play for home-field in the playoffs. But that post-Thanksgiving stretch has to be won.