The start of the 2022 NFL season is right around the corner, with every team in the league gearing up for what will likely be another year filled with storylines, drama and competitive football.
As usual, the Dallas Cowboys are a team to watch again. Owner Jerry Jones has made it known that he demands improvement from this talented football team, while many questions remain about whether this team has what it takes to be a true contender in the NFC.
Fortunately for Dallas, Dak Prescott proved last season that he's back to form as a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback. Many believed the gruesome foot injury he suffered in October 2020 was potentially the end of a promising career, present company included. Few players can come back from such an injury physically, let alone mentally, but Prescott pulled it off last season, instilling hope in Dallas that their championship window may not be closed.
Heading into the 2022 NFL season, the Cowboys will try to take control of the NFC East division as they usually do. Although the consensus was the division would be one of the worst in the NFL last year, the Philadelphia Eagles emerged as a legitimate threat, with quarterback Jalen Hurts leading the franchise to a playoff berth with a record of 9-8.
The rest of the division was a joke, as expected. The Washington Commanders, as they're now called, couldn't put it together despite a promising season in 2021, while the New York Giants were as awful as ever, with Daniel Jones proving to be the first dud in the post-Eli Manning era.
In 2022, it will likely be more of the same in the NFC East. Yes, the Commanders are excited about the arrival of Carson Wentz and the chemistry he's developing with star wideout Terry McLaurin, but let's face it, the same thing happened with the Indianapolis Colts. They couldn't wait to get rid of him this offseason.
Unless the Commanders become a defensive force with Chase Young putting on a show every week and Wentz showing signs of his once-dominant self from his Eagles stint, Washington will be competing for third place in this division.
As for the Giants, many changes have been made, and some optimism seems to be brewing in the Big Apple, but I get the feeling it'll be another rough year for New York. Jones will need to flourish under new head coach Brian Daboll and completely change the course of his career, while star running back Saquon Barkley needs to stay healthy. I don't see both of these things happening or could be a year away, so another fourth-place finish could be on the horizon.
America's Team, however, will face the most pressure in the division, if not in the entire NFC, during the 2022 campaign. The offense is set with Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and CeeDee Lamb leading the way. At the same time, the defense, which is trending in the right direction, will have Micah Parsons, Trevon Diggs and DeMarcus Lawrence looking to contain the opposition.
The Cowboys' biggest threat to winning the NFC East as well as paving their path to the Super Bowl is themselves. Dallas is talented on both sides of the football, with solid leadership from players like Prescott and Parsons. The coaching is suspect, with Mike McCarthy potentially on his way out if this season doesn't go as planned, but personally, I believe it comes down to the players living up to their potential and, as a result being a force to be reckoned with in the NFC.
With the pressure on and the team potentially going through drastic changes without the results Jones desires, the Cowboys will flourish and finally see some postseason success.
The Los Angeles Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Francisco 49ers may all be contenders in 2022, but the Cowboys will be the team to watch and possibly the last team standing in the NFC.