NFL Super Wild Card Weekend Picks: Why 49ers Can Cover vs. Cowboys

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Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers. Joe Scarnici/Getty Images/AFP

The NFC Wild Card round kicks off on Sunday with the two earlier games. After the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers conclude the 1:00 p.m. Wild Card game, we’ll see the Dallas Cowboys host the San Francisco 49ers. This rivalry will be reheated after being a dormant playoff battle since 2020.

The Cowboys won that matchup 41-33, and are up 5-2 in the playoffs. It seemed unlikely these teams would meet heading into Week 18. After all, the 10-7 49ers were dealing with an injured starting quarterback while facing the division-leading Rams. They needed help on top of pulling an upset.

Everything worked out as it should, including Dallas jumping into the third seed. Oddsmakers have put a tough three-point line on this game and we believe San Francisco can cover against the Cowboys. Let’s look at the NFL odds and break down this matchup.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Dallas Cowboys 

Sunday, January 16, 2022 – 04:30 PM EST at AT&T Stadium

Who is Dallas?

The biggest opportunity for San Francisco is capitalizing on the Cowboys' own lack of identity. Sure, Dallas has scored 50 points in two of their last three games thanks to an explosive passing game. But Dak Prescott and Kellen Moore haven't been nearly as consistent as their top-ranked passing attack suggests. 

The Dallas offense has been swaying between average and great in key matchups. Outputs of 16, 9, and 22 against Denver, Kansas City, and Arizona, and then, larger scores against the bottom-feeders suggest that Dallas simply beats up on bad foes. The attrition that has robbed Dallas some of their playmaking depth will show against a great secondary.

San Francisco plays physically with their sixth-ranked passing defense. Moore must not fall into comfortable habits of being conservative, or else the 49ers will have their way. Pushing the ball downfield against San Francisco works but only when plays are sequenced thoughtfully.

Dallas has that ability but often falls into the trap of going for big plays only when needed. San Francisco would love for Dallas to lose confidence in their game script and take random shots.

Watch the Run

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan is excellent at disruption. His play calling is designed to keep a defense guessing even if he runs similar plays. Every play creates conflict for key defenders, and later there will be a counter to take advantage of the unsureness. 

Even with a physically limited version of Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers can create massive passing plays with misdirection and yards after the catch. Boasting the seventh-best run game in the NFL with mostly no-namers carrying the ball, San Francisco has a way of producing against everyone. Dallas has a solid defense but is vulnerable to misdirection and run plays that attack the cornerbacks.

Those are issues against San Francisco, and I think it's why San Francisco ultimately can stay within three points and cover. Dallas hasn't shown they're reliable with their identity yet, and they're facing a team capable of plugging and playing anyone who fits their scheme and finding production. These two coaching staffs are both well-regarded but don't necessarily produce the same. For the above reasons, invest in the 49ers with your NFL picks.

NFL Picks:

49ers +3 (-105) with Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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49ers +3 (-105)
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Under 51 (-108) with Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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Under 51 (-108)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.