Here at Front Porch News we have spent the last couple of weeks breaking down the Sulphur Springs Wildcats 2022 football schedule. With the return of high school football, that means the returns of college football and the NFL are right behind it.
All 32 NFL teams have officially began their training camp and with it, predictions are being released. Every year USA Today releases their predictions for every teams record at the end of the season, and today we will be looking at their prediction for the Dallas Cowboys.
Before we dive too far into this, it is worth noting that the Cowboys have one of the tougher schedules in the league. In the first five weeks alone they will play three of the last four teams to make it to the Super Bowl, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Cincinnati Bengals and the reigning Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams.
Other tough non-divisional opponents include a trip to Green Bay to face the dreaded Aaron Rodgers, as well as trips to Minnesota to face the Vikings and a late-season matchup in Tennessee to face the Titans.
USA Today predicts Dallas will finish the season with a record of 10-7, well above .500 and good enough to make the playoffs. Perhaps the most surprising part, however, is they do not have them winning the NFC East.
The predictions have the Philadelphia Eagles taking their first NFC East title since 2019. Though it ends up being close, USA Today predicts Philadelphia to finish with one more win that Dallas, going 11-6 and ending up on the top of the divisional standings.
In the last decade, Dallas and Philadelphia have largely run the division, combining for seven NFC East titles. The Cowboys currently have the upper hand with four-to-three, but another division title for the Eagles would tie things up between the two.
For purely speculative measures, let’s break down the Cowboys schedule game-by-game and see how close we think USA Today got it. These predictions are 100% my own and please feel free to leave comments on our Facebook page or to me personally on Twitter with what you think the Cowboys record will be.
Week 1 vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
While starting things out on home is always great, starting out at home against a team who has gone 24-9 over the last two years isn’t ideal. The Bucs may have lost a few pieces, including future first ballot HOF Rob Gronkowski, but they still have a huge majority of the nucleus that has led them to back-to-back seasons of making it to at least the second round of the playoffs.
The Bucs will still have one of the scariest offenses in the league, led by arguably the greatest quarterback of all time and a defense that would still lead them to wins even with a lesser offense. While I would like to give the home field advantage and the benefit of the doubt to the good guys, this might be a loss to open the year for the Cowboys.
Week 2 vs Cincinnati Bengals
If I told you the Cowboys would be starting their year with a pair of home games, you would probably leap for joy. Now what if I told you they would be opening their season with a pair of home games, but it was against two teams who combined for a record of 23-13 last year, with one of them making it all the way to the Super Bowl?
2021 was quite possibly the greatest season in Bengals history and there’s no reason to believe they’re going to be any worse in 2022. With all of my LSU bias aside (Geaux Tigers) the Bengals are still predicted to go 12-5 this year and still have one of the highest odds to win the Super Bowl this season. If you told me Dallas wins at least one of these first two games, I would believe you, but for the sake of this exercise, I will be marking them both down as losses.
Week 3 @ New York Giants
After two extremely difficult home matches to open the season, this is where things begin to get easier for the Cowboys. While the Giants should improve from their 4-13 season a year ago, it probably won’t be by much.
Despite this one being on the road, this is a chance for Dallas to bounce back and do so in a major way. With the entire world watching in this Monday Night Football match the Cowboys need to take care of business and pick up, what I have it being, their first win of the season.
Week 4 vs Washington Commanders
Back-to-back divisional matches for the Cowboys in Week’s 3&4, and back-to-back chances to put up big wins and get things back on track. Washington swapped second round picks and sent their 2022 third round pick and a conditional third-round pick for 2023 to the Colts to grab Carson Went back in March.
Despite the fact Washington still has a scary front-seven and dangerous weapons like receiver Terry McLaurin and running back Antonio Gibson, this should still be a game the Cowboys are able to win. USA Today has Washington as a 7-10 team and if Dallas wants a chance to fight for the divisional title, they will likely need to take both games against the Commanders. We’re writing this one down as a W, and calling the Cowboys 2-2 at the quarter mark of the season.
Week 5 @ Los Angeles Rams
Well, so much for things being easy. In Week 5 the Dallas Cowboys will get to make the trip out to Los Angeles to face the reigning Super Bowl champion Rams.
Sure, the Rams lost a ton of talent, including Von Miller, Andrew Whitworth and Odell Beckham Jr (again, Geaux Tigers) but they also gained some talent along the way. Los Angeles was able to add some fairly big names, including Allen Robinson, who had 102 catches for 1250 yards and six touchdowns just two years ago and linebacker Bobby Wagner, who is a future first ballot HOF with six First Team All-Pro appearances as well as two Second Team All-Pro appearances.
The Rams are predicted to be every bit as strong as they were last year and even have a chance to repeat as Super Bowl champions. While you have to beat the best to be the best, I’m not so sure the Cowboys will have what it takes to beat them on the road, and fall to 2-3 in this exercise.
Week 6 @ Philadelphia Eagles
This is where things get tricky. USA Today has the Eagles going 11-6 and winning the division. Even if they have the two teams splitting with each other, the odds of them going 11-6 while losing to Dallas twice seems very unlikely.
I’m personally not as big on the Eagles as USA Today is. Yes, they added A.J. Brown, who is arguably a Top-15 wide receiver in the league and has averaged 87 catches for 998 yards and eight touchdowns per season, through his first three seasons in the league.
For me, it’s a matter of exactly how improved is quarterback Jalen Hurts going to be. Hurts is considered to be a third tier quarterback and is going to need a ton of help from both the running game and the Eagles defense if he is going to be a divisional champion quarterback.
The problem, for the Cowboys anyway, is he probably will. The Eagles have what is considered to be a Top-10, and maybe even Top-5 defense and running back Miles Sanders is coming off a season in which he averaged a career-high 5.5 yards per attempt.
While I personally think Dallas is probably the better team, I’m not sure I think they’re better enough to beat them twice. I might give the upper hand to the home team in this one, and give the win to the Eagles, dropping the Cowboys to 2-4 to start the year.
Week 7 vs Detroit Lions
Before we get started I want to point out that the 2021 Lions have to be the greatest three-win team of all time. That being said, the 2021 Lions were a three-win team. While they are predicted to be much better this season, with USA Today predicting them to go 8-9, if the Cowboys want any chance at all at being a 10+ win team, they have to win games like this.
The game is at home, it’s against a three-win team from last season, let’s not overthink this one and give it to the Cowboys.
Week 8 vs Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears might be the exactly opposite of the Detroit Lions. Though they went 6-11 in 2021, they are predicted to go just 4-12 in 2022.
Only two teams in the league, the Atlanta Falcons and the Houston Texans, are predicted to finish with worse records than the Bears. This one is at home and it’s a chance for the Cowboys to (in this exercise) get back to .500, and I say they do so, improving their record to 4-4. Let’s just hope, if this is true, the entire fan base doesn’t implode before the halfway mark of the season.
Week 9 Bye
Perfectly at the midway point in the season and with a record (again, just in this exercise) of 4-4, this would be the perfect time for a bye. Dallas still has a handful of tough games on the schedule and will need to pick things up if they want to win the NFC East for a second season in a row.
Week 10 @ Green Bay Packers
The Dallas Cowboys heading to Green Bay late in the season, what could go wrong? Even reading that sentence aloud for most Cowboys fans is probably very triggering.
While the Packers did lose a handful of guys, including arguably the best wide receiver on the planet, they’re still set to be one of the better teams in the league. Green Bay is still projected to go 11-6 and that probably includes a home win against the Cowboys.
While Dallas and Green Bay usually play very close games against each other, the Packers have won each of the last three and eight of the last nine against the Cowboys. It is possible Dallas breaks the trend this year, but we’re calling this one a loss in this exercise.
Week 11 @ Minnesota Vikings
I should start by saying I’m personally higher on the Vikings than most people seem to be. While they do have their share of flaws, they have maybe the best WR1-WR2 duo in the league and a quarterback who, say what you want about Kirk Cousins, threw 33 touchdowns to just seven interceptions last year.
That being said, this is where the Cowboys are going to have to pick things up. Another loss here would make it incredibly difficult to work their way back into the playoff mix and at the end of the day they are the better team.
On the road and late in the season this one could be close, but I have Dallas walking out with the win and getting back to .500 at 5-5.
Week 12 vs New York Giants
Back-to-back wins? Something we haven’t seen in this exercise since the early going in the year, but we have another one here. We’ve already analyzed the Giants. We know they’re not a very good team and the Cowboys are in desperate need of easy wins.
Chalk this one up as a W and keep it moving, the Cowboys are above .500 for the first time all season at 6-5.
Week 13 vs Indianapolis Colts
The Colts are quite possibly the most interesting team on the schedule this season. USA Today projects them to go 9-8 and even win the AFC South for the first time since 2014.
There’s a lot of question marks with this team. We know how good running back Jonathan Taylor is and they have arguably a Top-10 offensive line in the league.
It very well could come down to how good is Matt Ryan going to be? Ryan won the MVP back in 2016 and has proceeded to get worse in every season since.
While I do think he will probably be better than he’s been in the last two seasons, in which he’s had an average QBR of 52.9, I still don’t think he’s going to be good enough to beat Dallas at home. Another one for the Cowboys, making their record 7-5 and putting them back in the mix.
Week 14 vs Houston Texans
The Houston Texans are quite possibly the worst team in the NFL at the moment. While the Atlanta Falcons are giving them a good run for their money, it’s no question that the Texans are at the very bottom.
Every year in the NFL, even the really good teams lose games they aren’t supposed to lose, and really bad teams beat teams they have no business beating. That being said, surely that won’t be the case in this one. Pick up your fourth consecutive victory and start drinking that Kool Aid, the Cowboys are 8-5 and Super Bowl bound baby.
Week 15 @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Remember how this felt like the toughest schedule that any team has ever had to face? That felt like forever ago, now that we’ve had an entire month of the Giants, Colts, Texans and Jags.
Despite a 3-14 season in 2021, the Jags are going to be better this year, but how much better? Trevor Lawrence will be looking to turn things around, after a rookie season in which he led the league with 17 interceptions.
That being said, he actually does have weapons around him in Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, Marvin Jones Jr, Evan Engram and the running back duo of Travis Etienne and James Robinson. The Jags will be better this year, but they still leave a ton to be desired and have no business knocking off a red hot Cowboys team at this stage in the season.
Let’s call it a W and try not to question too hard how we went from 4-5 to 9-5 in a matter of five paragraphs.
Week 16 vs Philadelphia Eagles
Revenge sure is sweet isn’t it? I know some of you may have stopped reading this article a long time ago, when I said I thought the Cowboys would lose to Philly. For those of you who stuck it out, here ya go, time for revenge.
At this stage in the season, there’s a strong chance this game could entirely decide the division. While it’s incredibly difficult to win six games in-a-row in the NFL, no matter how easy the schedule was along the way, that’s exactly what I have the Cowboys doing.
I still believe the Cowboys to be the better team, and this game will come with a ton of pressure with it? This would be quite possibly the biggest game of Jalen Hurts’ young career at this point, and he will be going up against a tough Cowboys team with plenty of experience.
For the sixth paragraph in-a-row we’re calling it a win, and somehow a team who was 4-5 just a few sentences ago is 10-5 and looking to take the division.
Week 17 @ Tennessee Titans
This one is really tough, much like it would be to win a seventh consecutive game in the NFL. If this one were at home, I would probably chalk it up as a win and keep it moving.
That being said, Tennessee still has one of the better defenses in the league and have quite possibly the best running back in the league. While their offensive line and quarterback leave a bit to be desired, they will also be fighting for a divisional title and a playoff spot.
USA Today projects them to go 8-9 and finish a game behind the Colts, but I’m not quite so sure. I think this may be the other way around, and it could in large part be due to a late season win over Dallas.
Week 18 @ Washington Commanders
This is it. For all the marbles. USA Today had the Cowboys going 10-7 and finishing second place in the NFC East. Will we have the same thing, or will we have the Cowboys finishing as an 11-win team?
The answer is simple. I don’t see them ending their season with back-to-back losses to teams they either could, or in this case, should beat. Dallas will end the season with a road victory over Washington, making them 11-6 and winning back-to-back NFC East titles.
If you stuck around this long, thank you. I will not reveal how long it took to write and gather all the research for. As I said in the beginning, I know that I’m much more pessimistic than some and some of you aren’t going to agree with this at all.