Cowboys will be looking for payback from last years playoff loss to the 49ers.
Both teams will need to step up their game for this encounter; the Cowboys and 49ers have each faced teams with combined records of 4-12 and 5-11 so far – neither have faced off against an opponent with an active winning record yet.
Will the Cowboys avenge previous playoff defeats by earning an upset victory on the road against San Francisco, or will the 49ers continue their dominance? Something has to give; San Francisco has won 11 straight home games, including playoffs. Meanwhile, Dallas’ road warriors boasted an outstanding 13-6 against-the-spread record over their past three campaigns.
Brock Purdy has been unstoppable since taking over as the starting quarterback last December, leading the NFL in terms of EPA+CPOE composite and winning every game he finished or started since that point, including postseason contests. Over that period he threw 18 touchdown passes against only four interceptions and earned the highest passer rating in football; the San Francisco 49ers average 32 points per game, and has reached at least 30 in 10 of 12 contests started/completed as their starter.
San Francisco did not reach the 30-point threshold against Dallas during their postseason matchup; nevertheless, Dallas generated significant pressure against San Francisco’s right-side offensive line and thus prevented San Francisco from scoring 30 points.
Teams unable to generate pressure against Purdy have no chance of slowing down Kyle Shanahan’s potent offense that boasts explosive weapons across the field. Purdy offers more mobility and pocket presence, making him better at withstanding pressure than his predecessor, Jimmy Garappolo; yet when pressured, his numbers drop dramatically; when left clean his metrics remain exceptional.
Dallas made some strategic improvements during the offseason and will now have Tony Pollard running behind an offensive line that may return to full strength or near full strength on Sunday night against a San Francisco defense that has struggled against running plays this year – ranking among the bottom five for Rush EPA and Success Rate respectively.
That should free up Prescott to be more aggressive on offense; early in the season, he worried too much about throwing interceptions and was more concerned with playing it safe than aggressively. Plus, they should experience some positive red-zone regression as last season they led with 71% red-zone touchdown percentage while they currently rank near the bottom with 37% red-zone touchdowns per attempt so far this season.
Though without Trevon Diggs, Dallas still boasts one of the league’s premier defenses. Most importantly, Dan Quinn will use various blitz packages to apply pressure against San Francisco offensive line weaknesses which will be key against Brock Purdy and possibly force George Kittle, whose passing game could present Dallas matchup issues, into becoming more of a blocker during this game.
The 49ers are the most complete team and should win this game at home. I expect the Cowboys to keep this game close with their running game. 49ers 27 Cowboys 20.
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