It is a tradition unlike no other, the Dallas Cowboys are in the playoffs again and once again it seems like they have a chance to go deep into it with the talent that they have on their roster. Standing in their way is the 49ers, who won't have Future blasting "Tony Montana" on the sidelines to help juice them up, and this should be far and away the best game we have on the Sunday slate.
Starting off with the model (not the end-all-be-all) we have this game at DAL 30, SF, 28, not really getting an initial edge on the -3 line, but there are certainly other matchup factors to look at.
The Cowboys like to use the run game to propel their passing game to new heights, and generally this season they've been able to do this without much trouble, but SF's defensive line is one of the best and most underrated units in the league. They rank at elite levels in adjusted line yards allowed (2nd) Stuff % (6th) and adjusted sack rate 5th). Dallas ranks 13th, 21st and 12th in those categories respectively, which is a very big deal considering how often the 49ers run the ball with success.
Personnel wise, we see another advantage for the 49ers when we look at formation tendencies. SF lines up in a 2-1 personnel (2WR 1 TE 2 RB) a whopping 36% of the time and has run almost 100 more plays out of that formation than any other team in the league. By contrast, DAL has faced that personnel for a combined 53 plays ALL SEASON. SF should be able to run the ball with relative ease, especially to the left side with Trent Williams going up against Terrell Basham.
DAL should see some success against the SF pass defense, as the 49ers have been injured in the secondary all season, and DAL likes to run 3WR sets 65% of the time where they have had a ton of success (27:9 TD:INT ratio), a set that the 49ers struggle against with a TD:INT allowed ratio of 20:5.
This is the toughest game to read all weekend, but in my opinion the dominant offensive and defensive lines of SF combined with their elite running game and Mike McCarthy being a inept Head Coach on DAL's sideline, I'm taking the points and laying the ML on SF here and sprinkling on the over due to both teams' explosive tendencies.
PICKS SF +3 (-105) 2u
SF +145 1u
OVER 51 0.5u