NFL schedules are inherently unpredictable.
As most fans already know, a team’s upcoming schedule is based off of their record from the previous season. For example, a 12-win Dallas team with a playoff win that finished second in their division is awarded a second place schedule that features more playoff teams from 2022. Because of that 12 win season, Dallas will face seven playoff teams in 2023: Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Chargers, Miami Dolphins, and Buffalo Bills.
Since Dallas plays those seven teams at different and crucial times of the season (plays Eagles/Giants twice), the critics are already giving Dallas’ losses to the majority of those teams. However, roster turnover in the league is well over 30 percent and when you add unforeseen injuries to the equation, a hard schedule can instantly become an easy one or a more durable one, depending on how things unfold.
Case in point is the two games the Dallas Cowboys played in the 2022 regular season as the underdogs against the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams, the 2021 Super Bowl participants. Even though Dak Prescott did not play in either game, Dallas was predicted to lose those games before the season started while Dak was penciled in as the starting quarterback. Neither the Bengals or Rams looked like world beaters as both teams lost in convincing fashion to a Cooper Rush led team.
Two impressive wins during Dallas Cowboys four-game winning streak. Just another example of the fragility of predicting the strength of schedule.
From week 13-week 17 of this season, the Dallas Cowboys face the hardest part of their 17-game schedule where they play four games against the Seattle Seahawks (home), Philadelphia Eagles (home), Buffalo Bills (away), and Miami Dolphins (away). As stated earlier, these are playoff bound teams from last season.
On paper, this is supposed to be frightening for the Dallas Cowboys because each team presents a different problem like the Bills game is late in the season where the weather is bad; the Dolphins have improved and the heat may play a factor; the Eagles are a divisional foe that is the “favorite” to repeat as NFC champs, and the Seahawks are just better with young, promising players.
There are question marks on all four teams that gives Dallas the advantage and a fighting chance to win all of those games or at least three out of the four. When it comes to the opposing quarterbacks, Dallas’ defense is good enough to shut down Geno Smith and Tua Tagovailoa, and the defense is definitely good enough to contain the offenses of the Eagles and Bills.
Pro Bowl quarterbacks Jalen Hurts and Josh Wilson are the real deal but an improved Dallas defense that has prioritized stopping the run, has a stout pass rush and an opportunistic secondary is one that can upset the Bills and Philly in must win games.
This includes the away game against the San Francisco 49ers, another team the Dallas Cowboys are predicted to lose to. But as of right now, the 49ers do not know who will be there starting quarterback when season starts, let alone on October 8th in their Sunday night showdown against Dallas.
49ers golden child quarterback-Brock Purdy-shocked the league when he took over for the injured Jimmy Garoppolo and became an instant hit in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. But the former seventh round pick (Mr. Irrelevant) is still on the mend from an offseason UCL surgery that stems from injury in the NFC Championship game. Therefore, the 49ers do not know if Purdy will be under center or if it will be Trey Lance.
Sidenote: The Dallas Cowboys opponents finished the 2022 season with a record of 156-128-4 with a .549 winning percentage. This fact gives Dallas the fourth-most difficult schedule.