The Cowboys are sitting at home, watching the majority of the league do battle while they lick their wounds and ready for the season’s second half. A 6-2 record through eight games when their franchise QB has only been available for three games is a feat unto itself. Even better, among the 14 teams currently in playoff position, Dallas has faced the second-toughest schedule at .538. They also have a win over the team with the toughest schedule, the New York Giants at .549.
So what does Dallas do during the bye? Root for results that will help make their path to and through the playoffs easier. The Philadelphia Eagles played on Thursday and won again, increasing their record to 8-0, with a win in hand over Cooper Rush and Co. The rest of the Week 9 schedule is below. Here’s who fans should be cheering for.
NFC vs AFC
This is always the easiest of the matchups to identify a rooting interest. More often than not when there’s a battle between conferences, then Cowboys’ fans should root for the AFC team.
Only this week, there’s just one of these matchups between the conferences that matter in this way.
ROOT FOR THE RAVENS
Cincinnati Bengals (4-4) vs Carolina Panthers (2-6)
So what could this matchup matter? It could help the strength of schedule tiebreaker when teams that are on Dallas schedule win.
The better Cincinnati’s record is, the better Dallas’ strength of schedule, and strength of victory, become.
ROOT FOR THE BENGALS
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6) vs Las Vegas Raiders (2-5)
The Cowboys don’t face the Raiders this year, but they do take on the Jags. Hey, every win helps.
ROOT FOR THE JAGUARS
Chicago Bears (3-5) vs Miami Dolphins (5-3)
So this goes against the NFC v AFC rule, as the Cowboys have already defeated the Bears. They don’t face the Dolphins this season, so the better Chicago plays, the better the Week 8 win becomes.
ROOT FOR THE BEARS
Detroit Lions (1-6) vs Green Bay Packers (3-5)
No matter how bad the Packers look, they should always be considered dangerous until officially in the rear-view mirror. And heading into the Week 10 return of McCarthy to the frozen tundra, it’d probably be better for them to be in turmoil. Plus, one should probably expect Green Bay to tally more wins over the rest of the season, so any Lions victory is a bonus.
ROOT FOR THE LIONS
Washington Commanders (4-4) vs Minnesota Vikings (6-1)
The of the NFC’s longest winning streaks square off as Washington has won three in a row and the Vikings five. Dallas has a date in Minnesota in two weeks and trails them in the standings by a half a game.
Dallas has a tough road to climb to catch the Eagles and earn the NFC East title, and unless someone in the NFC North gets hot, that’s the only way the Cowboys and Vikings do any sort of playoff seeding dance. Still, it appears they are the bigger threat, even with Washington in the division.
That may change, but with current information available, root for the rivals.
ROOT FOR THE COMMANDERS
Arizona Cardinals (3-5) vs Seattle Seahawks (5-3)
Are the Geno Smith-led Hawks for real? Are the Cards as bad as their record says? Things will start to get sorted out a bit in this afternoon matchup. With Dallas in line for one of three wild card spots and currently looking at a matchup with the worst division winner, this game is full of intrigue for the Cowboys’ faithful.
Until someone emerges from the pack, root for a division full of mediocrity.
ROOT FOR THE CARDINALS
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5) vs Los Angeles Rams (3-4)
Who would’ve thought the last two Super Bowl victors would both be under .500 at this stage in 2022.
Scenario 1: One or both of these teams catch fire down the stretch and win their division. Dallas travels to either L.A. (where they won already) or to Tampa (who they lost to) in the wild-card round. So, root for L.A.
Scenario 2: Neither team becomes viable leaving one of their rivals to win the division. Atlanta, New Orleans, San Fran or Seattle. Atlanta and Los Angeles feel like the best combination of division winners.
Both scenarios lead to the same rooting interest in Week 9.
ROOT FOR THE RAMS