The Cowboys and 49ers are two historic franchises who will face each other in the playoffs this year for the first time since the 1994-95 season. Dallas holds a 5-2 all-time postseason record over San Francisco, and they have also won six of their last seven games against the Niners. With the Cowboys as 3-point favorites in this game, we have the tightest spread of any game in the Wild Card round. Aside from the obvious historical narrative, both of these teams are very solid on both sides of the ball and will fancy themselves as dark-horse Super Bowl contenders. The Cowboys will feel a bit hard-done to have drawn the 49ers in the first round, and a Niners’ win wouldn’t even be a true upset. A potential run to the championship starts this week, and this should be an exciting matchup to watch.
Dallas Cowboys Vs. San Francisco 49ers Betting Odds
Dallas Cowboys Vs. San Francisco 49ers Injury Report
Dallas Cowboys: OT Tyron Smith (knee) Q, LB Keanu Neal (chest) Q
San Francisco 49ers: QB Jimmy Garoppolo (thumb) Q, OT Trent Williams (elbow) Q, RB Elijah Mitchell (knee) Q, P Mitch Wishnowsky (concussion) Q, LB Dre Greenlaw (groin) Q, LB Azeez Al-Shaair (knee) Q, S Jaquiski Tartt (groin) Q
Dallas Cowboys Betting Odds
The Cowboys have been a difficult team to get a read on this season, as they have some massive blowout wins but also regrettable losses to teams like the Broncos and Raiders at home that inevitably held them back from earning a higher seed in the NFC. Outside of games against the NFC East, the Cowboys went just 6-5 this season. Dak Prescott seems to be past his midseason slump with 12 touchdowns and no interceptions over his last three games, but that has also come in the middle of two blowout wins over divisional foes and a heap of garbage time against the Cardinals. The loss of Michael Gallup to a torn ACL is unfortunate. However, CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper can still take advantage of a weak 49ers’ secondary that allowed the eighth-highest passer rating against this year. Of particular interest will be rookie cornerback Ambry Thomas, thrust into a starting role due to injuries, attempting to hold off Lamb or Cooper in coverage. Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard have not been particularly healthy lately, and the Cowboys may have a hard time running the ball in this game as the Niners are a stout run defense.
Dallas’s defense has seen a massive turnaround in the first season with Dan Quinn as defensive coordinator, and it’s led to him being in consideration for several head coaching jobs. This week, he’ll be tasked with figuring out Kyle Shanahan’s offense, and the two coaches should know each other quite well from their time together in Atlanta. After finishing last season in the bottom ten for points allowed, yards allowed, and defensive DVOA, Dallas has quickly become one of the best defenses in the NFL. We knew rookie Micah Parsons would be good right away, but he has been transcendent in his first season and is worthy of consideration for Defensive Player of the Year. He’s lined up all over the formation and has constantly made life more difficult for opposing play-callers. Now that elite pass-rushers DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory are healthy, Parsons is free to roam around the defense and plug in holes wherever he is needed. The Cowboys have thrived on wreaking havoc and creating turnovers – Trevon Diggs has an absurd 11 interceptions, more than 12 teams have in total, and the Cowboys have a league-leading six defensive touchdowns.
San Francisco 49ers Betting Odds
Trent Williams is the Niners’ best offensive player and one of the best players in the NFL, let alone at his position, and his absence last week was felt against a stout Rams’ pass rush. Williams hasn’t yet practiced this week, but he reportedly intends to play in this game. His status is critical as the Cowboys can put constant pressure on opposing quarterbacks with Parsons, Lawrence, and Gregory teeing off. Jimmy Garoppolo and Elijah Mitchell were able to play through their respective injuries last week, and they should be able to do the same against the Cowboys. Deebo Samuel continues to be their best skill player, however, and he came up with a clutch 43-yard catch late in the game last week. He’s the first player ever to have 1,400 receiving yards and 300 rushing yards in a season. George Kittle hasn’t made the same impact lately, but he’s still an excellent player as well. Veteran offensive tackle Tom Compton is the X-factor – he took over as the starting right tackle after Mike McGlinchey’s injury, and he’s enjoying a career year at the position.
The San Francisco defense isn’t quite as good as it was when it led the team to the Super Bowl a couple of years ago with Robert Saleh, but first-year defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans has done an excellent job. An early season-ending injury for Jason Verrett put this team’s secondary depth to the test, and it hasn’t always gone well. The 49ers have been able to mask their deficiencies in the secondary thanks to a lights-out pass rush led by Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead – they have 48 sacks this year, the sixth-most in the NFL. However, when quarterbacks have time to throw, they can exploit matchups outside. That’s problematic in a matchup against the Cowboys, who have one of the best offensive lines in the league, especially now that Tyron Smith’s health is improving. The 49ers will need to find a way to run variable blitzes and mix things up on defense to keep the offensive line off-balance. Otherwise, Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, and Zack Martin should afford Dak Prescott plenty of time to sit in the pocket and make throws.
Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers Picks & Prediction
Dallas led the NFL in both yardage and points this season, and while that’s somewhat inflated due to some massive blowouts, it’s still indicative of this being an elite offense. The 49ers’ biggest defensive strength is their pass-rush, but that isn’t an ideal setup against the Cowboys’ elite offensive line. I don’t want to dump on Ambry Thomas as a Michigan product, but he will be facing a lot of pressure in this matchup. The Cowboys likely won’t run the ball effectively against the Niners’ second-ranked run defense by DVOA, but their passing offense should be very productive in this game. On the other side, Jimmy Garoppolo could be in trouble with the Cowboys’ elite pass-rushers facing an injured Trent Williams, and it’s easy to see him having a couple of turnovers with his injured thumb holding him back. The 49ers have plenty of blue-chip talent, and Kyle Shanahan will find creative ways to move the ball against his former coworker’s defense. Still, the Cowboys should win this game on the back of a positive turnover margin and efficient passing offense.
My Predictions: Cowboys win 30-23, Cowboys cover, over 50.5 points
Best Bet: Cowboys ML or 6-Point teaser: Cowboys +3 and over 44.5 points