Dallas Cowboys' 2022 schedule: Early tests against Buccaneers, Bengals set the tone

FRISCO, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys' 2022 schedule was released along with the rest of the NFL slate Thursday.

The 2022 NFL season will kick off on Thursday, Sept. 8 with the Buffalo Bills vs. the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. ESPN opens its schedule with Monday Night Football on Sept. 12 featuring the Denver Broncos at the Seattle Seahawks.

The NFL expanded to 17 regular-season games last season. The final regular-season games for the 2022 season will be played Jan. 8, 2023. The playoffs begin Jan. 14 and continue through Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Arizona.

Here's what's in store for the Cowboys:


Sept. 11: vs. Tampa Bay (SNF)

Sept. 18: vs. Cincinnati

Sept. 26: at New York Giants (MNF)

Oct. 2: vs. Washington

Oct. 9: at Rams

Oct. 16: at Philadelphia (SNF)

Oct. 23: vs. Detroit

Oct. 30: vs. Chicago

Nov. 7: Bye

Nov. 13: at Green Bay

Nov. 20: at Minnesota

Nov. 24: vs. New York Giants

Dec. 4: vs. Indianapolis (SNF)

Dec. 11: vs. Houston

Dec. 18: at Jacksonville

Dec. 24: vs. Philadelphia

Dec. 29: at Tennessee (Prime)

Jan. 7 or 8: at Washington

Strength of schedule: T-31st, .462

Biggest takeaway

The Cowboys will be challenged early. Four of their first six games are against 2021 playoff teams, including the opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at AT&T Stadium. By the way, quarterback Tom Brady is 6-0 vs. Dallas. That’s followed by the AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2. After two NFC East games, the Cowboys play the Super Bowl champion Rams at SoFi Stadium and then at the Philadelphia Eagles. If the Cowboys can come out of that stretch at .500 or better, then that could set them up for late-season success with only three games against 2021 playoff teams (Green Bay, Philadelphia, Tennessee) in the final nine weeks.

Revenge game

From 2006 to December of 2018, Mike McCarthy was the Green Bay Packers' head coach. He won a Super Bowl for the Packers. He has a street named after him, Mike McCarthy Way. He still has a home outside Green Bay, and family still lives in the area. Do you think the Week 10 game at Lambeau Field will mean something to him? He will try to downplay it, of course, but that figures to be the storyline of the week. It’s that or who is under more pressure to win big as the second half of the season unfolds, Aaron Rodgers or Dak Prescott? Go with McCarthy.

What the oddsmakers think

The win total is 10.5 games. A year ago, the Cowboys won 12 games but don’t have Amari Cooper, Randy Gregory, Connor Williams or La’el Collins around this year. They haven’t made the big free-agent splashes. Their draft didn’t generate a ton of buzz, either. So why 10.5? They are tied with Washington for the easiest strength of schedule based off last year’s win percentages.

Bold prediction

The Cowboys break the NFC East jinx and win the division in back-to-back years. The last time the same team won the NFC East in consecutive years was Philadelphia in 2003-04. The Cowboys have not gone to the playoffs in back-to-back years since 2006-07.