49ers vs. Cowboys prediction: NFL divisional round playoff odds, picks – New York Post
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Last year, the Cowboys’ season ended in agonizing fashion after Dak Prescott’s late scramble bled the clock to zero in a 23-17 wild-card loss to the 49ers.
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Twelve months later, Dallas is out for revenge, though it’ll be tough to knock off a San Francisco squad that has won 11 straight games heading into Sunday’s affair. Oddsmakers favor the Niners at home, while early money has backed the ‘Boys in a game with plenty of intrigue.
Here’s how we’re betting Sunday’s contest, which kicks off at 6:30 p.m. ET on Fox.
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For much of the season, it looked like the Cowboys were the biggest threats to the Eagles on this side of the postseason bracket. Then came the 49ers, who have weathered all sorts of adversity to emerge as the true bullies on the block in the NFC.
It’s hard to argue that San Francisco isn’t the best team in the conference – and maybe the entire league – when combing through the numbers of its gaudy 11-game win streak.
Over that stretch dating back to Oct. 30, the Niners own the NFL’s best scoring defense (15.2 PPG) and second-best scoring offense (31.6 PPG), boasting eight double-digit victories after last week’s 18-point rout over the Seahawks. They’ve outscored teams by a ridiculous 16.3 points per game in that run; for context, the 2007 Patriots set an NFL record with a plus-19.7 scoring margin across 16 games.
Nearly all of those wins have come with rookie Brock Purdy under center, which is as much a testament to his heady play as to the elite talent around him on both sides of the ball. You can argue how much credit belongs to Purdy or head coach Kyle Shanahan; ultimately, it doesn’t matter, as this machine keeps on rolling regardless of the opponent.
Yes, the Cowboys defense looked exceptional in Monday’s 31-14 win in Tampa Bay, when they were able to play two high safeties for almost the entire game – teeing off on Tom Brady in obvious passing situations while never threatened by the Buccaneers’ complete lack of a competent run game. That simply won’t work against the Niners, who led the league in rushing yards per game (181) and ranked second in yards per carry (5.5).
On the other side, Prescott finally looked like his old self in last week’s win, accounting for five touchdowns and finishing with zero interceptions for the first time in eight weeks. The biggest difference? He was scarcely pressured by Tampa Bay’s rudderless pass rush, allowing him to operate from a clean pocket for almost the entire game.
That won’t be the case on Sunday. The 49ers rank near the top of the league in sacks (44) and pressure rate (22.9%) despite rarely blitzing, largely because of the disruptive nature of regular-season sacks leader Nick Bosa (18.5). That means Prescott will be feeling the heat with as many as seven or eight defenders hanging back – a recipe for interceptions and a key reason why the Niners ranked third in takeaways (30) during the regular season.
There’s a lot to like about both of these teams, but I just don’t see them as near-equals like the betting market seems to. San Francisco finished the year ranked second in DVOA (Dallas ranked sixth) and has clearly been the better team for the better part of three months now, during which the Cowboys struggled to find any semblance of consistency.
Even after Dallas’ big win last week – which was matched by a similarly dominant win for the 49ers – it feels a little premature to just assume that’s the version of this team that we’ll see this weekend, especially against a team with far fewer exploitable weaknesses than Tampa Bay. I wouldn’t be surprised if San Francisco pulled away with another explosive second half, which could spell some alt-spread value for Sunday’s home favorites.