A pair of old NFC rivals will renew acquaintances this weekend as the Dallas Cowboys host the San Francisco 49ers in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. This will be the eighth playoff meeting between the two iconic franchises but the first since the 1994 NFC Championship Game. On Sunday, the Cowboys are listed as three-point favorites at home, with the over/under set at 51 points.
The Cowboys cruised into the playoffs with a 51-26 win over the Eagles last week. After a rocky period during the middle of the season, the Cowboys won five of their last six games heading into the playoffs, although all but one of those wins came against an NFC East team. Nevertheless, Dallas ran away with the division title at 12-5.
As for the 49ers, they had to erase a 17-0 deficit, come from behind late, and win overtime against the Rams last week just to clinch a playoff spot. San Francisco looked to be in a world of trouble before prevailing to get back to the playoffs. Of course, the 49ers will head to the playoffs with some momentum after winning seven of their last nine games to finish 10-7.
The Jimmy G Show
While Jimmy Garoppolo endured some ups and downs this year with many calling for him to be replaced, he did come up big in San Francisco’s hour of need, making some big-time throws in last week’s win. However, the 49ers are still in need of some help and hope that Elijah Mitchell can continue to be productive after rushing for 204 yards over his last two games. Meanwhile, the likes of Deebo Samuel and George Kittle will be important X-factors for Garoppolo and the passing attack.
Naturally, the 49ers will also need to ask a lot of their defense in this game. While they are not an elite defensive team, the 49ers have had some strong performances against quality offensive teams this season. They also have a potential game-changer in Nick Bosa, who racked up 15.5 sacks this season.
The Real Dak?
As mentioned, the Cowboys endured some problems in the middle of the season but came on strong late in the season thanks to the play of Dak Prescott. The Dallas quarterback threw 13 touchdown passes and no interceptions over his final four games, showcasing what the highest-scoring offense in the league is capable of doing when everything is clicking. Keep in mind that the Cowboys also have a 1,000-yard rusher in Ezekiel Elliott and a strong offensive line, so it’s not all on Prescott’s shoulders.
On the other side of the ball, there have been mixed reviews for the Dallas defense this year. The Cowboys have two Pro Bowlers and difference-makers in Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs, which is why they have excelled at creating takeaways and had a solid pass rush. But they have looked vulnerable at times and perhaps looked better than they are late in the season while playing Washington and the Giants.
Can’t Keep Up
If last week was any indication, Garoppolo and the 49ers aren’t going down without a fight. But if the Dallas offense is clicking, it’ll be hard for San Francisco to keep up no matter how well Garopoolo plays. Bet on the Cowboys to pull away late and cover the three-point spread.
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