Fans will know what the 2022 Dallas Cowboys are made of by week 10.
3. Week 10: Green Bay Packers
Coming out of the bye there could be a chance that we’re either talking about how the Cowboys are ranked at the top of the league, sitting at the middle of the pack, or below .500. Nonetheless, the Green Bay Packers will be waiting for them in Week 10.
This matchup will be the first time HC Mike McCarthy returns to Lambeau Field, and I can already envision how hostile the game will be. Since 2016, the Cowboys are 1-3 versus the Packers, so it will be crucial for them to finally get over the hump.
Additionally, although Cowboys QB Dak Prescott has been statistically great versus the Packers, he needs to prove that he can finally grab a victory over them. Expect this game to not only be one of the most-watched of the year but a potential NFC Championship preview.
Overall, I get the argument that some fans may have saying that “three games won’t define their season since we’re in a 17-game format”, but if those lose tougher matchups and win out against subpar teams, it’s hard to gauge how good you are.
The list includes two newly-signed free agents.
James Washington, WR
After losing Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson this offseason, the Dallas Cowboys had to do something to stop the bleeding. With Michael Gallup still recovering from ACL surgery, they faced the very real possibility of starting the 2022 season with the worst WR corps in the NFC East.
So they signed former Pittsburgh WR James Washington to a one-year deal and covered themselves from the worst case scenario (not getting an instant starter in the draft).
The Dallas Cowboys took their time pulling the trigger at WR in the draft, waiting until the third round to address one of their biggest needs. Luckily for them Jalen Tolbert was there to give them arguably their best value pick of the draft.
Tolbert comes to the Cowboys NFL-ready. Even with the jump from South Alabama to the pros, Tolbert’s game translates and he’s expected to contribute early in his career – possibly even by Week 1. This would not be seen as good news to James Washington’s future.
The Cowboys hopefully found a new weapon.
Just a two-word answer was all Kellen Moore needed to describe his newest drafted wide receiver.
“He’s awesome,” said Moore, the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator when asked about rookie Jalen Tolbert. “I think he works his tail off. I think you can tell how prepared he is and how detailed he wants to be. I think he’s going to be a really good addition for us.”
Tolbert, a third-round pick from South Alabama, was nearly the Cowboys’ second-round pick. So obviously, the team was ecstatic to land him in the third. And with Michael Gallup still rehabbing a torn ACL injury that could jeopardize his chances of playing Week 1, Tolbert will get the chance to show his versatility.
“We’ll try to get him to learn as many spots as possible. We’ll start him in a Z-type position, maybe play him in the slot,” Moore said. “We’ll get him moved all around the field. We like to do that with a number of our receivers. So, we’ll do the same thing with him.”
Dak Prescott sometimes has to carry the offense, but are these the games?
3. Week 6: at Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday, Oct. 16)
While it remains to be seen what the Washington Commanders will be this season, the Cowboys have to assert their dominance over the Philadelphia Eagles in divisional play. Though a series split with The Birds would not be the worst thing in the world, this year is all about the Cowboys changing the narrative. This is why they have to go out and beat the Eagles early at their place.
Nobody is suggesting that losing Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson doesn’t sting. But the point here is that we were never going to preserve that surplus of talent at WR for long. This offseason and these changes were almost inevitable.
The other point is that the cupboard is still far from bare. In fact, the Cowboys offense is arguably still deeper and more talented at WR now than it was before adding Cooper and Gallup in 2018, and perhaps even before drafting Lamb in 2020.
It will be a primetime affair in Week 6 alright, with potential early-season bragging rights on the line. If Philadelphia holds serve at home, it will give the Eagles confidence heading into their Christmas Eve road date at Dallas to potentially seize control of the divisional race. This is why the Cowboys need to buckle down and have a fantastic first half to kick off the season on a good note.
Prescott may be somewhat of the prototype for Jalen Hurts under center in Philadelphia, but he is the one who has already gotten big money as a proven starter. The last thing Dallas will want is for the latest version of their quarterbacking comparable to out-duel him in a standalone primetime game. If Prescott can go into a hostile road environment and win, that bodes well for the playoffs.
It may be an early-season game, but a win at Philadelphia will serve as an NFC East tone-setter.
The back of the schedule is the exact opposite of the first few weeks.
Week 12 – New York Giants at home on Thanksgiving: In theory, any game against the Giants should be easy. They did add some key components in the draft, but the Cowboys are still the better overall team. This will also be the second time Dallas takes on their NFC East rival, so the team should be fully prepared to take down the Giants and then eat some turkey.
Week 13 – Indianapolis Colts at home: All eyes will be on the Colts and Cowboys in this Sunday Night Football game. While the Colts are likely the most formidable of the opponents during this stretch, Dallas and DC Dan Quinn certainly know a lot about Matt Ryan. Indy is a good team, but certainly has struggled on the road and could fall to Dallas under the bright lights.
Week 14 – Houston Texans at home: If there is any home run game (aside from maybe the game against the Lions) this season, it has to be this one. Sure, there will be more animosity as the Cowboys face “the other Texas team,” but Houston has been on the struggle bus for several seasons. This should be an easy W at home.
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