This offseason has been insane.
We have seen all sorts of players traded, some that were predictable and others that caught us off guard. We’ve seen new markets set for multiple positions and an embracing of being ‘all-in’ by more teams than ever. The NFL dominates headlines 24/7/365 and this offseason (which technically isn’t even a month old) is the latest example as to why.
A big talking point this offseason has been about all of the players who have switched conferences. Superstars like Russell Wilson and Davante Adams (just to name two) have turned in their blue N for a red A.
Seeing so many teams spend big and swing for the fence has been frustrating for Dallas Cowboys fans considering the team has been idle relatively speaking. While this was hardly by design, the Cowboys are sort of benefiting the most from all of the chaos, though.
Cowboys have arguably benefited the most among NFC contenders from all of the AFC’s movement
As people have been talking about the AFC’s rise, all of the defections from the NFC have obviously weakened teams from the latter conference on paper. There are still free agent moves to be made and an NFL Draft to be had, but you get the general idea.
This has led many to say that the NFC ‘is more wide-open’ than it has been in recent history. We said this ourselves in the wake of Tom Brady’s retirement that he undid. With Brady back, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in prime position to re-take the Lombardi Trophy that escaped their grasp this past season, but the Los Angeles Rams are going to do everything that they can to retain it.
When it comes to the NFC the ‘contenders’ are really those teams (Tampa Bay and Los Angeles) plus the Green Bay Packers and, to a lesser degree, the Dallas Cowboys. These were the four division winners last season. We, of course, cannot forget about the non-division-winning San Francisco 49ers who took out two of these teams during the playoffs.
The NFL is a league of parity and surely another NFC team will threaten in 2022, but right now it is a bit unknown who that will be. Looking at these five teams and who their opponents are this coming season is a cause for optimism (hey, we need some of that!) for the Cowboys if you look closely.
2022 Dallas Cowboys Opponents
- Home: PHI, NYG, WAS, TB, CHI, DET, CIN, HOU, IND
- Away: PHI, NYG, WAS, LAR, GB, MIN, TEN, JAX
Dallas has better fortune than just about any of the other teams listed here by nature of playing in the NFC East. You could honestly argue that their odds within the division even improved by the Commanders trading for Carson Wentz. But that is a different conversation.
Four of these teams have lost notable playmakers. The Bears (Allen Robinson and Khalil Mack), Texans (Deshaun Watson), Rams (Von Miller and maybe Odell Beckham Jr.), and Packers (Davante Adams) are all weaker on paper at the moment. For what it’s worth, Allen Robinson just moved from one to the other as he went from Chicago to Los Angeles, but those games appear easier than they did thanks to the movement that has happened.
What’s more is the big moves that have happened across the league that pertain to the teams Dallas plays next season are some of the smaller ones. There is hardly anybody fearful of the Colts just because they now have Matt Ryan, Tennessee adding Robert Woods isn’t exactly a massive thing, but the Cincinnati Bengals did fortify their weakest strength by improving their offensive line, partly by adding former Cowboys lineman La’el Collins. It should be said though that Dallas is obviously now without La’el Collins and Amari Cooper as well, to be fair.
All told the Cowboys dodged any of the massive dominoes which isn’t the case for their conference counterparts. And they get to play against arguably the two weakest divisions in the NFL in the NFC East and AFC South, something that no other team here has going for them.
2022 Green Bay Packers Opponents
- Home: MIN, DET, CHI, DAL, LAR, NE, NYJ, TEN
- Away: MIN, DET, CHI, PHI, WAS, TB, BUF, MIA
Obviously the Packers themselves are much weaker now that they do not have Davante Adams, and what’s more is two of the bigger acquisitions appear on their schedule.
Green Bay will have Detroit twice (Dallas will have them once) and will have to face the same challenge as the Cowboys in taking on the Rams and the Buccaneers; however, the Packers also have to play the Buffalo Bills who got even stronger by signing Von Miller.
Additionally the Packers will have to visit Buffalo and the Miami Dolphins who just traded for Tyreek Hill. What may have been an easy win is now going to require a little bit more effort and you know how those things go.
2022 Los Angeles Rams Opponents
- Home: SEA, ARI, SF, CAR, ATL, DAL, LV, DEN
- Away: SEA, ARI, SF, NO, TB, GB, KC, LAC
The ‘problems’ for the Rams and 49ers are fairly similar since the NFC West happens to play the AFC West in 2022 and the latter became a super division almost overnight. Things are obviously easier when you are the reigning Super Bowl champions, though.
Los Angeles will have to take on Dallas and the two Bays (again we are talking about all division winners so far here so that makes sense), but they will also have to play the AFC West as mentioned. Kansas City may be weaker after trading away Tyreek Hill, but they still have Patrick Mahomes. Outside of him Russell Wilson, Justin Herbert, and Derek Carr with Davante Adams are lurking. Those are going to be some very tough games.
2022 San Francisco 49ers Opponents
- Home: SEA, ARI, LAR, NO, TB, WAS, KC, LAC, MIA
- Away: SEA, ARI, LAR, ATL, CAR, CHI, DEN, LV
What makes life difficult for the Rams and 49ers is obviously that they also have to play each other twice, a challenge unique to them among the teams we are discussing. Of course they both also get to play the Seahawks who just traded away Russell Wilson twice apiece, but as noted they both still have to take on Wilson and the rest of the AFC West which is no easy challenge.
San Francisco benefits in that they get to face Washington just like Green Bay does, and for what it’s worth both the 49ers and Rams will also play the Falcons who just traded away Matt Ryan and have Calvin Ridley suspended for the season.
But the 49ers are in an extremely unique situation in that they, unlike any other team here, will have a new quarterback this season in Trey Lance. On top of that they have yet to receive any compensation for Jimmy Garoppolo the way that the Packers have for Davante Adams and it is unknown whether they will ever consummate a trade for him.
2022 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Opponents
- Home: NO, ATL, CAR, LAR, SEA, GB, CIN, BAL, KC
- Away: NO, ATL, CAR, ARI, SF, DAL, CLE, PIT
Honestly the only team who you could argue has benefited from the state of things more than the Cowboys is the Buccaneers. Tom Brady returned which caused players like Chris Godwin and Carlton Davis to get their own long-term deals (Rob Gronkowski is also likely going to head back), life is good when you have the GOAT.
What’s more is that Tampa gets to play the Atlanta Falcons twice by virtue of being division rivals and gets to play the barely-treading-water Carolina Panthers twice. That is twice as many games against those teams as the Rams and 49ers for instance. Oh and their other two division games will be against the team that Sean Payton just retired from!
Tampa also gets to play Seattle without Wilson, San Francisco with Trey Lance in his first true season, Pittsburgh with Mitchell Trubisky in all likelihood... life sounds pretty sweet for them.
The other side of that coin though is that Tampa has to play the other division winners listed here and that they also have to take on the Baltimore Ravens who have committed to turning it back around this season. Additionally they are the only team listed that will have to face the Cleveland Browns with Deshaun Watson and Amari Cooper among their other offensive talent.