After leading the NFL in scoring in the regular season, the Dallas Cowboys look to avoid a quick exit from the playoffs against a motivated San Francisco 49ers squad playing with house money after sneaking into the postseason behind a furious Week 18 comeback. Here are our 49ers-Cowboys betting picks.
Wild Card Weekend doesn’t get any better than this matchup of two storied franchises.
The Cowboys had their occasional lulls offensively throughout the season, but they enter the playoffs having eclipsed 50 points in two of their last three games.
The 49ers stumbled to a 3-5 record by midseason and were afterthoughts in the wild-card conversation before finishing the year on a 7-2 run that included an overtime win over the Los Angeles Rams in Week 18.
Dallas held the best record in the NFL against the spread this season (13-4). San Francisco finished the year 9-8 ATS.
49ers vs. Cowboys Game Info
Date/Time: Sunday, Jan. 16, 4:30 p.m. ET
Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
49ers vs. Cowboys Odds Analysis
After opening at -3, the line on this game has remained pretty constant as sharp money has reportedly poured in on both sides. Though the prices have varied from -115 to even odds depending on the side you like, it seems something significant would have to happen to budge the spread from its field-goal margin. As of this writing, 67% of the bets and 54% of the money wagered has been on the Cowboys.
The total opened at 50.5 and has remained at that number at DraftKings. Other spots, like FanDuel, have seen the number bump up to 51. Wagers have been split pretty evenly on the total, with a slight lean toward the Over.
49ers Betting Preview
Record: 10-7 SU, 9-8 ATS, 8-9 O/U
Key Players: WR Deebo Samuel, QB Jimmy Garoppolo, DE Nick Bosa
Notable Trend: San Francisco has only been the underdog three times all season – and it won two of those games.
How did we get here with the 49ers? After spending a good portion of the season wondering why head coach Kyle Shanahan was so insistent on giving No. 3 overall draft pick Trey Lance as little experience as humanly possible in his rookie year, Shanahan’s patience with Jimmy Garoppolo was redeemed – though turning Deebo Samuel into a running back also seemed to help matters.
Samuel is the X-factor through which the entire 49ers offense runs. Sure, Elijah Mitchell serves as the standard between-the-tackles runner, but San Fran has shown it will get the ball into Deebo’s hands anywhere on the field. Samuel, in turn, has shown he knows a vast variety of paths to the end zone. Couple his versatility with the 49ers’ stout defense and San Francisco shouldn’t be easily dismissed on Wild Card Weekend.
Cowboys Betting Preview
Record: 12-5 SU, 13-4 ATS, 8-9 O/U
Key Players: QB Dak Prescott, WR CeeDee Lamb, CB Trevon Diggs
Notable Trend: The Over is 5-3 with Dallas playing as home favorites on the season.
The Cowboys are the better team. They’re also the home team. But the one concern with riding with Dallas for this playoff game has been the occasional inconsistency of its offense. When Dak Prescott and Co. are clicking at their pinnacle, not even the Aaron Rodgers-led Green Bay Packers offense is superior. But Dallas hasn’t done it with enough regularity to put the potential for a playoff slip up out of our minds entirely.
If there’s a way Dallas loses this game, it’s more likely from Prescott not syncing with his playmakers than it is from an offensive explosion led by Garoppolo.
49ers vs. Cowboys Picks
Cowboys -3 (-112) ★★★★
Over 50.5 (-110) ★★★
Dak Prescott Over 26.5 completions (+100) ★★★
Under 26.5 1st-half total (-125) ★★★
Ezekiel Elliott anytime TD + Cowboys Over 22.5 + Elijah Mitchell Over 59.5 rush yards + Deebo Samuel Over 19.5 rush yards + George Kittle Under 74.5 receiving yards (+550) ★★★★
49ers vs. Cowboys Predictions
Cowboys -3 (-112 via FanDuel)
The Cowboys at their best are one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL. They scored more points than any other offense while also boasting a top-10 scoring defense. Teams had to score with the Cowboys to beat them, and it wasn’t often that they found success in doing so.
When the Cowboys lost, it was usually because their offense was on the fritz. Losing receiver Amari Cooper to COVID-19 and CeeDee Lamb to a concussion stifled the Dallas offense during a portion of the season. Running back Ezekiel Elliott has frequently played through injuries. Right now, though, the Cowboys appear to be on stable footing offensively following two massive outbursts in their previous three weeks.
While my expectation is for Dallas to score in the range of 28 to 31 points, we shouldn’t sleep on the ability of the Cowboys’ defense to assert its dominance in the event of a Dallas cover. Corner Trevon Diggs has been making big, loud plays for this defense all season. Linebacker Micah Parsons is expected back off the COVID list. There’s enough talent on that side of the ball to make life difficult on Jimmy G.
In front of what should be a raucous crowd, the Cowboys’ hopes for a dream season continue for another week.
Over 50.5 (-110 via DraftKings)
The intensity of both defenses could be tough for the Over to crack in our 49ers-Cowboys picks. A hard-hitting battle for field position is certainly a possibility. But as the game goes, look for the offenses to open things up.
I’m not just talking about the Cowboys, either. Sure, we come to expect it to rain points for the NFL’s most prolific scoring offense, but the 49ers have shown they can survive those kinds of game scripts as well. In fact, if they hadn’t just done it in a game that hit 51 points (albeit in overtime) against the Rams, well, they wouldn’t be here in the wild-card playoffs.
The 49ers lead the NFL in red-zone offensive efficiency (66.7%) and they’re going to need that to continue this weekend when facing a Cowboys red-zone defense that ranks 21st in the NFL (60.7%). The key for San Francisco, though, will be getting to the red zone in the first place against the ball-hawking Cowboys defense.
Prescott Over 26.5 completions (+100 via DraftKings)
Though the Cowboys will pull away to cover the spread in the fourth quarter, the majority of this game should be pretty competitive. In a game that finishes with more than 50 total points, the Cowboys will need to rely upon more than their running game to traverse down the field.
That means Prescott firing off a healthy number of passes. Though Prescott cleared this completion mark only six times on the season, the games where it happened were generally the tightly contested ones in which the Cowboys faced a sturdy run defense. San Francisco’s run defense ranks in the top 10 in the NFL.
Though the Cowboys will likely be inclined to establish the run in the early going, I expect that Dak will need to thrive with short-to-intermediate third-down completions to players like Lamb and tight end Dalton Schultz in order to extend drives and build a lead.
Take Prescott to complete at least 27 passes in our 49ers-Cowboys picks.
Under 26.5 1st-half total (-125 via FanDuel)
This has the feel of a game that’s going to find its way Over the 50.5 points with a frenetic push by both offenses in the waning moments of the game. The early portion of the proceedings, however, should play as more of a feeling-out process for both sides.
The 49ers surrender an average of 21.7 points per game (ninth in the NFL), while the Cowboys rank even better at 21.1 points per game (seventh). While both teams employ game-breaking receivers, the reality is that the Cowboys and 49ers will both want to establish some ball control in the early going.
That could mean some extended early drives. Short passes to move the chains to tight ends like Kittle and Schultz. Running backs Elliott, Tony Pollard, and Mitchell churning out first downs for their respective offenses in short-yardage scenarios.
Though both offenses will eventually come alive in a moderately competitive game, I don’t see a shootout for the first half. A couple of touchdowns with two or three field goals sprinkled in would still see this inflated Under cash in the first half of Sunday’s game. If you want a better return on your investment, DraftKings currently offers a first-half total Under 25.5 at -110 odds.
Same-Game Parlay: Ezekiel Elliott anytime TD + Cowboys Over 22.5 + Elijah Mitchell Over 59.5 rush yards + Deebo Samuel Over 19.5 rush yards + George Kittle Under 74.5 receiving yards (+550 via DraftKings)
To wrap up my 49ers-Cowboys picks, I compiled a same-game parlay on DraftKings that takes advantage of some conservative alternate yardage lines to offer a significant return for bettors brave enough to take the leap.
When the Cowboys get close to the goal line, Elliott is typically the direction they turn on first down and frequently even on second down. Pollard has rarely been used inside the 5-yard line, so Zeke should have as good a chance as anybody in this game to come away with a TD.
I like the Cowboys -3. I like the Over 50.5. So that means I like the Cowboys to put up some points in their home stadium this Sunday. But even in the event that we’re wrong about the side and total of this game, it doesn’t seem plausible for the 49ers to hold Dallas below 23 points. So we’re adding this conservative alternate team total to our SGP on DraftKings to boost the odds.
In his nine games with double-digit rushing attempts this season, Mitchell has produced 66 or more rushing yards in all nine of them. He’s also had 20-plus rushing attempts in five straight games, so it feels like a lock that he’ll clear 60 yards.
Samuel has registered 19 or more rushing yards in eight straight games. Ever since the 49ers began giving him carries on the regular, he’s produced with them. This game should be no different.
Kittle is one of the best tight ends in the NFL, but his prolific blocking ability frequently takes him out of the game plan as a pass-catcher. Kittle has just 60 receiving yards combined over the past three weeks. If Kittle beats this line, he’s liable to incinerate it, but we like his recent usage to continue against Dallas.
49ers-Cowboys picks made 1/13/2022 at 7 p.m. ET.