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49ers vs. Cowboys Odds, Picks, Predictions: How We’re Betting This Wild Card Sunday Spread For NFL Playoffs

49ers vs. Cowboys Odds, Picks, Predictions: How We’re Betting This Wild Card Sunday Spread For NFL Playoffs article feature image

Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images. Pictured: 49ers WR Deebo Samuel and FB Kyle Juszczyk

  • An old rivalry is renewed on Wild Card Sunday when the 6-seed 49ers travel to Arlington to take on the 3-seed Cowboys.
  • Our analyst breaks down why he's betting on Kyle Shanahan and Co. as underdogs to cover this playoff spread based on the latest 49ers-Cowboys odds.

49ers vs. Cowboys Odds

49ers Odds+3
Cowboys Odds-3
Time4:30 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.

The playoffs for the San Francisco 49ers started last week in a must-win game against the Los Angeles Rams. San Francisco responded terribly as at the end of the first half it trailed 17-3. However, Kyle Shanahan’s creativity would show through in the second half as the 49ers fought back to win. San Fran has the talent to make a surprise playoff run, but will need to remove those slow halves.

The Dallas Cowboys enter the postseason after winning five of their past six games, but that success may just be thanks to scheduling. The only healthy playoff team the Cowboys faced during this run was the Cardinals and that was the game they lost. We have seen the Cowboys pull disappearing acts against the Broncos, Chiefs and Cardinals. On their best day, they can beat anyone, however, all it takes is one disappearing act now and their playoff run is over.

Both these teams have what it takes to make a surprise run or get smacked out of the playoffs. Let’s look further to see who will have the edge in the opening weekend.

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49ers vs. Cowboys Injury Report

We’re tracking practice participation and statuses of every player on the 49ers’ and Cowboys’ injury reports here.

49ers vs. Cowboys Matchup

49ers OffenseDVOA RankCowboys Defense
49ers DefenseDVOA RankCowboys Offense
Football Outsiders’ DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team’s success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.
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49ers Win With Versatility On Offense

The 49ers have been one of the hottest teams in the NFL, winning seven of their past nine games. Those have not all been empty-calorie wins, either, as they have taken down the Rams (twice) and the Bengals. They have also played both No. 1 seeds to field-goal games. This San Fran team has shown it can play with the best of them.

What makes the 49ers so unique is their versatility on offense. The combination of Elijah Mitchell and Deebo Samuel forces defenses to be prepared for a run in either direction on any play. Off their run game, they can utilize misdirection to create space for their athletic playmakers outside. Building a passing attack off the run game has helped San Francisco earn the top-ranked passing attack in net yards per attempt, per Pro-Football-Reference.

The only thing standing in the way of the 49ers and the title of elite offense is turnovers. For the year, the 49ers have committed the 20th-most turnovers with 24. Against the Titans and Rams, Jimmy Garoppolo threw two interceptions deep in the opponent’s territory. That could have been the difference against Tennessee but fortunately wasn’t against L.A. Those mistakes could be the 49ers’ undoing in the playoffs.

Defensively, the 49ers have played better than the scores would suggest. They rank 12th in points per drive but fourth in yards per drive. If they can perform better on third down and in the red zone during the playoffs, those ranks will better align.

Cowboys Have Talent All Over

The case for Dallas to make a playoff run starts with the offense, which ranks first in both points and yards. Even without Michael Gallup, this offense is loaded with talent. From the one-two punch of Ezekiel Elliot and Tony Pollard in the backfield to the plethora of receiving options, the Cowboys have answers for whatever you try to take away. 

The question is whether or not this offense can get going early against playoff-caliber teams. In five of their six games against playoff teams (the Eagles’ practice squad in Week 18 doesn’t count), the Cowboys have trailed at halftime. 

Given their talent level, those early-game struggles should be credited to the coaching staff. The media does an excellent job of pointing out Mike McCarthy’s numerous gaffs in situational football. However, the Cowboys’ early-game struggles are glossed over. In the playoffs, overcoming that early deficit will not be as easy.

Defensively, the Cowboys have been the surprise team of the year. They finished sixth in yards per drive, fourth in points per drive, and first in turnovers. This defense plays aggressively and can turn defense into scoring opportunities. We will see if they can continue against the higher offensive play in the playoffs.

49ers vs. Cowboys Predictions

Had these teams not been matched up, I would love to back both in the playoffs for opening weekend. They both have electrifying defenses and offenses that can impose their will on you. Unfortunately, the stars aligned and there can be only one.

With both rosters impressing me, the difference comes down to coaching and there is no question there. Kyle Shanahan has consistently updated his game plan and play calling to attack his opponents’ weaknesses. 

The Cowboys defense is opportunistic, but part of that equation is taking risks. The excellent pass rush gives Dallas’ defensive backs those opportunities as quarterbacks can’t hold onto the ball long enough to make them pay. However, the 49ers rank seventh in pass block grade, per PFF. Pair that protection with one of the best schemers in the NFL and those risks might bite the Cowboys in the butt.

Trust Shanahan to outmaneuver Mike McCarthy in this game and bet the 49ers +3.5 and down to +3. 

And as a little bonus pick, at +2000 on DraftKings, the 49ers are a sneaky value pick for the Super Bowl.

Pick: 49ers +3.5 | Bet to: +3

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