Cowboys vs 49ers: First look

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The Dallas Cowboys were able to advance to the divisional round for the first time since the 2018 season with a dominant 31-14 victory over the media favored Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Cowboys’ star quarterback, Dak Prescott, put in the best playoff performance in franchise history; posting a 96.5 QBR and scoring 5 total touchdowns to momentarily silence his critics.

While the Cowboys were able come a way with the win they will have little time to enjoy their victory as they will have to travel to San Francisco and play a dangerous 49ers team on a short week. This is an opponent the Cowboys know well as the 49ers eliminated the Cowboys in the wildcard round just last year. With the biggest game of the year on the horizon lets take a look at some of the raw numbers for our divisional opponent.

Defense

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The 49ers defense is one of the best units in football and has the luxury of having playmakers at every level. Their defense is the best scoring defense in football, only allowing 16.7 ppg on the season. They are also the 2nd best running defense in terms of yardage, having only allowed 1321 yards on the ground over 17 games, which translates to roughly only 77 yards per game. While the 49ers are a very stout run stopping unit they are more feast or famine in terms of passing defense. The 49ers are only ranked 23rd in terms of passing yardage however, they have proven to be a highly opportunistic team finishing the season with 20 interceptions on the season.

Offense

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It is no secret the the 49ers are a run heavy team. The 49ers averaged 29.8 rushing attempts per game during the regular season and finished as the 7th ranked rushing offense in terms of yardage. They also rushed for 20 tds on the season, the 5th most in the NFL. In terms of passing offense they 49ers attempted the 5th fewest passes of any team in the league. Despite of this the 49ers still finished as the 13th ranked passing offense in terms of yardage gained and were tied for 7th most passing tds in the league. So while the 49ers are not a team that utilizes volume passing they are very efficient when passing the ball; leaning heavily of West Coast passing concepts and screens.

Context

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The 49ers are a well coached and talented team that the Cowboys will need to play their best game to beat. With that said however, there are plenty of reasons to feel the Cowboys can win this game. While the 49ers are a good run defense in totality they have at times been exploited in their base defense. The 49ers run a variation of the 4-3 known as the Wide 9. In this formation their defensive end is detached from the line of scrimmage. This formation is used to generate one on one opportunities for pass rushers against opposing team’s offensive tackles. While it is a great way to generate pressure on opposing QBs it can also lead to large running lanes in the vacated area between the defensive end and the rest of the defensive linemen and also along the edge of defense if the the offensive line can seal the end. The Seahawks were able to use this to their advantage during the first half of their playoff matchup against the 49ers. The Cowboys will also have the distinction of being one of the best defense they 49ers have played this season, as the Cowboys come into this game as the 5th ranked scoring defense in the league, only allowing 19 ppg.

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While the 49ers are definitely talented they have not beaten any elite level competition. Their best wins of the season came against the 9-8 Seattle Seahawks and the 10-7 Los Angeles Chargers. The best team they played this season were the Kansas City Chiefs who beat them 44-23. The Cowboys have been more battle tested, beating the Bengals, Vikings, and Eagles who all won double digit games and also beating the Giants and Lions who finished the season with winning records. The 49ers will be a test but the Cowboys are up to the challenge.


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