With the recent news that Tampa Bay Quarterback Tom Brady is retiring after a historic 22-year career, that opens room at the top of the NFC. The Buccaneers won the Super Bowl last year and finished second in the conference this year. With Brady now out of the picture, it gives hope for the Dallas Cowboys to make a claim as the top team in the NFC.
After looking like a true contender for the Super Bowl in the first half of the season, they could never regain that consistency in the second half despite finishing third in the conference. Things should be looking up for the Cowboys in 2022 in terms of the other competition in the conference.
Now with Brady retired, the Bucs will not be able to replace him with someone even close to the same level of play that he was giving them. Assuming that they cannot replace him with a top quarterback, they should not be as much of a contender for the Super Bowl as the previous two years.
When looking at the other contenders in the NFC, they have questions in the offseason that could hurt their chances in 2022.
The Green Bay Packers, who finished 13-4 and secured the one seed in the NFC, do not know if their MVP Quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be on their team going into next year. Aaron Rodgers is the difference in the Packers being a favorite in the NFC compared to them completely falling out of contention with unproven backup Quarterback Jordan Love taking over. They also have multiple key free agents, including star Wide Receiver Davante Adams.
Another team that had Super Bowl aspirations last year was the Arizona Cardinals who finished the year 11-6. Even though the record looks really good, they started the year 7-0 and slumped to the finish line by going 4-6 to end the season before getting demolished in the Wild Card Round. Despite having an elite quarterback in Kyler Murray, their head coach Kliff Kingsbury does not seem able to lead his team when it counts the most.
The one team that seems to have no problems is the team that is representing the NFC in the Super Bowl, which is the Los Angeles Rams. They have gone all-in for the next couple of years to win a Super Bowl by trading away all of their first-round picks and not owning their own pick until 2024. They have also made moves to acquire QB Matthew Stafford and LB Von Miller, while also picking up WR Odell Beckham Jr. No matter the outcome against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Rams will be the biggest threat to the Cowboys in 2022.
So, this leaves the Cowboys in a spot where two of the top teams over the last couple of years could be in line for a down year meaning there is more of a chance for the Cowboys.
The Cowboys do have some key free agents of their own including WR Michael Gallup, TE Dalton Shultz, and DE Randy Gregory. But, they were able to keep Dan Quinn as their DC and still have the number one overall offense from last year.
If there was ever a time for the Cowboys to finally break through and reach the NFC Championship Game, and hopefully the Super Bowl, that window seems to be as open as it has been over the last handful of years.