NFC WILD CARD GAME 2: SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS AT DALLAS COWBOYS

BY ADAM GREENE

There was a time in the 1990s where this was the preeminent rivalry in the NFL, where the winner in this particular playoff match up would go to the Super Bowl and win it. We’re a long way from there, but there’s still plenty at stake when the San Francisco 49ers travel to Arlington, Texas to take on the Dallas Cowboys in the second NFC Wild Card game.

The 49ers had to get into the playoffs the hard way, beating their arch rival Los Angeles Rams on the road. It might have looked hard on paper and it took an overtime period to get it done, but San Francisco has bested the Rams six times in a row now. In fact, LA was on the only NFC West team the Niners beat this season.

Dallas clinched the NFC East weeks ago and has been playing for playoff positioning ever since. They never took a week off, even when they should have, and delivered a tune up curb stop to the Eagles in preparation for this game.

This will be the 38th all time meeting between the Niners and Cowboys, with Dallas holding a 19-17-1 advantage. They faced off against each other last season, with the Cowboys winning 41-33 in a battle of back ups. Andy Dalton, starting for an injured Dak Prescott, threw for 209 yards and two touchdowns. Tony Pollard rushed for 69 yards and two scores and caught six passes for 63 yards. Nick Mullens finished with 219 yards passing, two TDs and two picks. Raheem Mostert rushed for 68 yards. Brandon Aiyuk had nine catches for 73 yards and a TD.

This is the 7th postseason meeting between the two franchises. The Cowboys hold a 5-2 advantage there and this is the first playoff meeting between these teams since the 1972 season that wasn’t in the NFC Championship.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS AT DALLAS COWBOYS (-3, O/U: 51)

Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

Broadcast: CBS

Kickoff: Jan. 16, 4:30 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (10-7)

San Francisco charges into the playoffs after their biggest win of the year, a 27-24 overtime win over the Rams. Jimmy Garoppolo finished 22 of 32 for 316 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Elijah Mitchell rushed 21 times for 85 yards and Brandon Aiyuk caught six passes for 107 yards. Deebo Samuel caught four passes for 95 yards, rushed eight times for 45 yards and a TD and threw a touchdown pass to Juan Jennings. The Niners defense sacked Matthew Stafford five times and picked him off twice.

DALLAS COWBOYS (12-5)

Dallas crushed the Eagles 51-26 in a game they took way too seriously as a tune up for the postseason. Prescott threw for 295 yards and five touchdowns, Ezekiel Elliott rushed 18 times for 87 yards and Cedric Wilson caught five passes for 119 yards and two scores. The Cowboys defense sacked Gardner Minshew three times and picked him off once.

THE PICK

While we’re right to be impressed with the way the 49ers handled their business against the Rams, this has not been a team that shows up on a regular basis this season. In fact, of their four wins over playoff opponents, two have come against the Rams and one against the Cincinnati Bengals, coached by a Sean McVay disciple in Zac Taylor. While Kyle Shanahan should be able to coach rings around Mike McCarthy, he has his own playoff issues and Dallas is simply the better, more explosive team. And, more importantly, they aren’t the Rams or Rams adjacent. Cowboys 34, 49ers 23

Last Week

Straight up: 11-5

Against the spread: 10-6

Season

Straight up: 170-101-1

Against the spread: 143-129

Follow Adam Greene on Twitter @TheFirstMan.

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