We are now less than 72 hours away from the opening day of the NFL season. There is much excitement. Not for Skip Bayless, though. The noted Dallas Cowboys superfan is not pleased his team is slated to take on the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Speaking to Shannon Sharpe on Undisputed this morning, Bayless complained that the Cowboys have not been good enough to justify an opening kickoff slot and it's "unfair" the NFL decided to essentially sacrifice a possible Week 1 win for America's Team in pursuit of good ratings.
While this comes across as Bayless whining about his favorite team playing a good squad in Week 1, he's kind of right. Opening night usually features two teams who have been good recently. Last year the Chiefs played the Texans in a divisional round rematch. In 2018, the Eagles played the Falcons in another divisional round rematch. In 2017, it was the Patriots taking on the Chiefs, who won their division the previous season.
You get the point. The only exception to this rule came in 2019, when the NFL wanted to celebrate its 100th season by featuring the Packers and Bears on opening night. Even then, the Bears had gone to the playoffs in 2018 and the Packers had Aaron Rodgers.
As Bayless notes, the Cowboys were bad last season after Dak Prescott got hurt and missed the playoffs in 2019 with a healthy Prescott. It's been three years since they've been good. And yet they have a spot on Thursday night.
But anyone with a brain knows why. The Cowboys are nearly unmatched across sports, much less the NFL, in their ability to drive ratings regardless of how good the team is. I'm sure the NFL would have loved to feature Aaron Rodgers and the Packers on opening night as an NFCCG rematch, but when the schedule was made no one knew if Rodgers was going to be in a Packers uniform and such uncertainty is unacceptable for one of the biggest days on the NFL calendar.
Besides, if the Cowboys are even half as good as Bayless has spent months claiming they'll be, it'll be a good show for the first game of Week 1. That's all any of us want, anyway.