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The NFL Divisional Round finale kicks off at Levi’s Stadium Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET when the NFC West champion San Francisco 49ers host the Dallas Cowboys. Both teams coasted in their wild-card games.
San Francisco actually trailed entering halftime vs. Seattle last week before ransacking the Seahawks with 25 second-half points and winning 41-23.
Niners rookie QB Brock Purdy won his seventh consecutive game (sixth straight start). Purdy completed 18-of-30 passes for 332 yards with a 3/0 TD/INT ratio and added 1 rushing score.
Dallas boat-raced the Buccaneers 31-14 on the road Monday in a wire-to-wire victory. Dak Prescott had 5 TDs (4 passing and 1 rushing), connecting on 25-of-33 passes for 305 yards and 0 INT.
The 49ers beat the Cowboys in the 2022 NFC Wild Card round 23-17 in a game that wasn’t that close. San Francisco held a 16-point lead entering the fourth quarter and out-played Dallas on the box score.
Cowboys-49ers Betting Breakdown (DraftKings)
- Moneyline: Cowboys (+170), 49ers (-200)
- Against the spread: COWBOYS +4 (-110), 49ers -4 (-110)
- Total — 46 — Over: -110, Under: -110
There’s really not a lot of bad things I can say about Purdy. He’s thrown some ugly passes here or there but, overall, has been the best QB on San Francisco’s roster this season by QBR and TD-rate.
However, there are a lot of bad things that can be said about his awful competition. Per Football Outsiders, the 49ers have the second-easiest schedule in the NFL behind the Eagles.
When you look under the hood of Purdy’s seven wins, they become less impressive. Purdy’s NFL debut was in relief duty for an injured Jimmy Garappolo Week 13 vs. the Dolphins who were missing both starting tackles.
Then Purdy and the Niners dominated the Bucs 35-7 at home the following week. Afterward Purdy made his primetime debut in a 21-13 Week 15 win at the Seahawks. The first of Purdy’s two wins vs. Seattle.
Purdy’s other wins have come against the Commanders who played both QBs Taylor Heinicke and Carson Wentz, the Raiders led by QB Jarrett Stidham and the Cardinals with QBs David Blough and Trace McSorely.
Not exactly a who’s who of opponents. Also, the Niners are +14 in turnover differential in Purdy’s seven games under center, which is unsustainable and due for regression.
The Cowboys are a step up in competition
These teams are fairly equal by the numbers and all of San Francisco’s edges are minimal. Both have elite skill-position players and NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidates.
Dallas is fifth in offensive points per play (PPP) and fourth in defensive PPP. While San Francisco is second in offensive PPP and first defensively.
The Cowboys have a +7.4 point-per-game (PPG) margin and the Niners are +10.2 in PPG margin. Dallas has better net third-down and red zone conversion rates.
I’ve heard various NFL podcasts diminish the Cowboys’ wild-card victory by say something to the effect of “Dallas beat a bad Tampa team”. But, the Cowboys opened up a can of ass-whooping on the Bucs.
What else could you ask for? And why isn’t the same point being made about the Niners beating the Seahawks. In fact, the Buccaneers beat the Seahawks in a neutral-field in Munich, Germany earlier this season.
Also, roughly two-thirds of the betting action at DraftKings is on San Francisco at the time of writing, per VSIN. Yet the Niners have gone from -5 on the opener down to the current number (-4).
Clearly the sportsbooks are taking respected money on the Cowboys. Ultimately, I want to be on the same side as the House, fading a rookie QB as a favorite in the postseason playing by far his toughest challenge.
BET: Cowboys +4 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, down to +3.5
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