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San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) carries the ball. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire)
January 11th, 2022
Two of the most prestigious teams in NFL history will meet in the playoffs for the eighth time on Sunday, when the San Francisco 49ers travel to Dallas to take on the Cowboys.
Let's examine this NFC Wild Card matchup in depth, starting with the latest betting odds.
The San Francisco 49ers may have barely snuck into the playoffs, thanks to a major comeback against the Los Angeles Rams, but they are still a serious contender. Their style of play fits perfectly for a Super Bowl contender, and they have the playmakers to come through in clutch situations.
The offense ranks seventh in the NFL in total yards and in rushing yards per game, despite the many injuries the unit suffered throughout the season at the running back position. The 49ers are entering the postseason with a healthy Elijah Mitchell and Deebo Samuel, who are both capable of breaking open any play.
91 seconds of Deebo Samuel at running back pic.twitter.com/gmGbGGnI8y— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) December 21, 2021
91 seconds of Deebo Samuel at running back pic.twitter.com/gmGbGGnI8y
The defense ranks third in total yards allowed, sixth in passing yards allowed, and seventh in rushing yards allowed. Any team that can run the ball successfully and stop the run on defense has an excellent shot at dominating time of possession. That typically leads to wins in the postseason.
The Cowboys needed a bounce-back performance after their loss to the Arizona Cardinals, and they did not disappoint when they faced off against their rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles, last week.
The Cowboys put up yet another 50-point performance against a divisional opponent and their second in the past three weeks, as they smoked the Eagles 51-26.
The Dallas offense ranks first in points and total yards in the NFL. The unit also ranks second in passing yards, ninth in rushing yards, and seventh in average yards per drive. With two Pro Bowl offensive linemen to go with a slew of ultra-talented skill players, they are a nightmare for any defensive coordinator.
Dak Prescott on the Cowboys’ playoff opponent: “It doesn’t matter. Line em up. … Whoever it is, wherever it is, we’re ready for this run.” pic.twitter.com/mTGnQGNHvz— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) January 9, 2022
Dak Prescott on the Cowboys’ playoff opponent: “It doesn’t matter. Line em up. … Whoever it is, wherever it is, we’re ready for this run.” pic.twitter.com/mTGnQGNHvz
On defense, the Cowboys were a little bit bend but don’t break on the year. The defense ranked 19th in the league in yards allowed, but seventh in the NFL in points allowed. Dallas was the best in the league at forcing turnovers, with eight fumble recoveries and an astounding 26 interceptions. The Cowboys tied with Indianapolis with a league best +14 turnover differential.
If this were a regular-season game, I would be all over the Cowboys and their offense. However, things change in the postseason, and Dallas just does not have a good history this time of year. Dak Prescott has put up decent numbers in his three career playoff games, but he tends to lose in high-scoring games in the postseason.
The Cowboys struggle to stop the run and depend heavily on turnovers. On a positive note for Dallas, the 49ers have six turnovers in their past four games. The Cowboys will take their +14 turnover differential up against the 49ers' -4 turnover differential.
Both teams can make big plays on offense, but I trust the 49ers defense more than I trust the Cowboys defense without turnovers. I believe that Kyle Shanahan will design a gameplan to limit the opportunities for turnovers with lots of run designs and quick passing routes.
Give me the 49ers to come out on top on the road.
Score prediction: 49ers 27, Cowboys 21
Our predictive engine sees this playing out a bit differently and has the Cowboys winning outright and covering the spread.
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