American Football

49ers vs. Cowboys predictions: 30 is the magic number


NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers
Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

Whichever team can reach 30 should win the game, according to our predictions

The winner of today’s game will travel to Philadelphia in a week for the NFC Championship. However, San Francisco must first get by the NFL’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde team in the Dallas Cowboys.

Here are our staff’s predictions for today’s game.

Marc: 49ers 27-24

I picked the Cowboys in our picks contest, but that’s because I think betting markets have San Francisco too heavily favored. Ultimately, they are the best team in the NFL if you take the quarterback out of the equation, and they have gotten their best stretch of quarterback play since Colin Kaepernick was under center since Brock Purdy replaced Jimmy G.

The Cowboys need to generate pressure AND keep contain to force Purdy into quick decisions, which would probably lead to some turnovers. With that said, I still think Dak Prescott will need to have the game of his life against the Niners for Dallas to pull the upset.

Xavier: 49ers 35-17

I don’t know what it is, but I feel like the 49ers are going to stomp a hole into the Dallas Cowboys. The 49ers’ defense has a chip on their shoulder, and they nearly held Seattle scoreless in the second half last week. This game will be won in the trenches as both the offensive and defensive lines have to bring their A-game.

San Francisco’s offense is too hot to stop. Brock Purdy’s play deserves attention as he’s done more than just “do his job.” The Cowboys’ defense will be no match for the Yac Bros if Purdy can stay up.

Jason: 49ers 31-17

Certainly, the Cowboys’ defense presents the biggest challenge for Brock Purdy. They are the best in the league at generating pressure. Outside of that, the 49ers’ offense has too much firepower and can exploit the other matchups. The Cowboys have been lackluster down the stretch in both defending the run and pass.

Monday’s performance against a poor Tampa Bay offense has blinded people from who they have been for the last few weeks of the season. Finishing with the sixth most passing yards and touchdowns allowed from Weeks 13-18 doesn’t exactly instill confidence. The opponents: Indianapolis, Houston, Jacksonville, Philadelphia (Minshew started), Tennesee (Dobbs started), and Washington (Sam Howell’s first start).

The 49ers have too much firepower—niners by 14.

Kyle: 49ers 31, Cowboys 27

This game has all of the makings of a shootout. You’ve heard all week about the Cowboys struggling to stop the run, but their numbers are better than the 49ers defensively on the ground. Dallas generates pressure at a high clip as they are second in sacks per passer dropback, but those are the types of plays that lead to big plays.

I don’t think either team will rely heavily on a ground attack. The Niners getting the ball to Deebo Samuel or Christian McCaffrey on quick passes and in space against a defense that’s allowed the most yards after the catch will be the recipe for success.

So long as Brock Purdy continues to hit the receivers running wide-open 15 yards down the field, San Francisco’s offense will continue to click on all cylinders — especially if he keeps making magic happen in the pocket with his legs.

The Cowboys’ offense is the exact type that gives the Niners struggles. They have a quarterback that’s decisive and can make all of the throws outside of the numbers while having the velocity to threaten defenses down the seams.

But Dallas is a different team when they are playing from behind. That’s when Dak forces the ball into a crowd, which usually leads to turnovers. The Cowboys aren’t a defense that’s built to play from behind, either.

So we have a team on its fourth straight road game, traveling across the country on a short week, with a decided coaching disadvantage, and they cannot prevent the one thing their opponent is built to do — create after the catch.

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