Cowboys vs 49ers Divisional Round Picks and Predictions: In Deebo We Trust

From scheduling to matchup edges, Deebo Samuel and the 49ers appear to have the Cowboys right where they want them. Here are our NFL Divisional Round picks for Sunday's nightcap.

Last Updated: Jan 22, 2023 3:49 PM ET Read Time: 6 min

A classic NFC rivalry gets rekindled in the NFL Divisional Round with the Dallas Cowboys in Santa Clara to clash with the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night.

San Francisco snapped out of a slow start to the NFL playoffs with a monster second half against the Seahawks, flipping a 17-16 halftime hole into a one-sided 41-23 victory. It was the 49ers’ 11th straight win, and seventh in a row with rookie quarterback Brock Purdy under center.

“Mr. Irrelevant” faces his toughest test yet in this dangerous Dallas defense. The Cowboys stop unit finished the season among the most disruptive, with 54 sacks and a league-high 33 takeaways. But before these storied franchises even step on the field, Dallas faces a disadvantage due to odd scheduling from the NFL this postseason.

I run down the spread and total for this Divisional Round matchup and give my best NFL picks and predictions for Cowboys vs 49ers on Sunday, January 22. For more, check out our Cowboys vs. 49ers prop picks.

Cowboys vs 49ers best odds

Cowboys vs 49ers picks and predictions

The term “poking the bear” comes to mind when seeing the clip of a Cowboys fan talking smack to San Francisco Swiss Army knife Deebo Samuel via video chat during Dallas’ win at Tampa Bay on Monday. 

I’ll speak for all Cowboys faithful when I say, “Dude, STFU!”

If you listen to me on the Sharp 600 podcast, you’ll know I’m putting fandom aside and have the 49ers to win outright on the moneyline (which is as low as -196 as of Thursday afternoon). A big part of that play is the Niners’ depth on offense, including the versatility of Samuel.

That was on full display in the Wild Card Round, with Samuel doing double duty once more. He caught six of nine targets for 133 receiving yards, and tacked on an extra 32 yards on three rushing attempts – his busiest day on the ground since returning from injury after sitting out Weeks 15, 16, and 17.

Samuel has seen his rushing attempts temper a bit since the 49ers traded for Christian McCaffrey back in Week 7, and injuries have also slowed his snaps as a runner. But with the Dallas run stop unit presenting a tough task (third lowest success rate allowed to runners), head coach Kyle Shanahan will need to get creative for those ground gains.

Samuel bulldozed the Cowboys for 72 rushing yards on 10 carries in last year’s Wild Card meeting, including a 26-yard touchdown run that served as a gut punch to the Dallas defense in the third quarter. The 49ers will want to take the pressure off Brock Purdy, and need to keep the Cowboys’ league-best pass rush honest with a healthy dose of the run.

San Francisco will also try to suck all the energy out of Dallas by playing its slow-paced offense that has leaned heavily on the ground-and-pound, handing off at the seventh-highest rate in the NFL. That means spreading the ball around to all the 49ers’ top talents, and exploiting what will be an exhausted Cowboys defense playing its fourth straight road game and facing this relentless rushing attack on a short week.

Samuel lined up in the backfield seven times in the Wild Card Round – his second-highest count as a runner since missing Weeks 8 and 9. He took 13 snaps in the backfield in the Wild Card win over Dallas last year. San Francisco dominated the football in that game, holding it for 34 minutes, and handing off a total of 38 times.

Samuel’s rushing yards prop is sitting at 15.5 yards for the Divisional Round, which is the same total he was pegged with against Seattle last week when he got three touches for 32 yards – the bulk coming on a 22-yard run early on. 

This rushing prop still seems short considering his growing involvement in the ground game, his improved health, and his past work against Dan Quinn’s defense. I like Deebo to do his thing on the ground and exact some revenge on the smack-talking Dallas fans.

My best bet: Deebo Samuel Over 15.5 rushing yards (-110 at BetMGM)

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Cowboys vs 49ers spread analysis

Following the Cowboys’ impressive 31-14 win over Tampa Bay, oddsmakers installed the 49ers as four-point home favorites for the NFC Divisional Round.

With Dallas’ efforts fresh in the minds of bettors, and the Niners looking a little shaky in the first half of their Wild Card win over the Seahawks, early opinion was on the Cowboys and slimmed the spread to San Francisco -3.5. Some shops even slipped as low as a field goal before action on the home side pumped the spread back to as high as -4. 

As of Thursday afternoon, the NFL odds market consensus is San Francisco as a 3.5-point favorite, with some four-point spreads starting to show up at sharper sportsbooks online and in Las Vegas. According to DraftKings books, which are dealing Niners -3.5 (-110), 68% of bets and 73% of handle is siding with San Francisco. Covers Consensus is showing 65% of picks on the 49ers as of Thursday.

As mentioned, the postseason schedule isn’t doing Dallas any favors. Not only is this trip to Santa Clara the Cowboys’ fourth straight road game going back to the regular season, but the Monday game in Tampa Bay puts Dallas at a major rest and preparation disadvantage compared to the 49ers, who had a two-day head start on Divisional Round plans.

San Francisco may not need that edge with the way it’s been playing. The 49ers continue to be a force on both sides of the football, and have multiple ways to win games behind an extremely deep roster, as well as quality coaching and scheming from Shanahan and defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans.

The Niners rank among the analytical elite during this 11-game winning streak, owning the No. 2 offense in EPA per play, and by far the best defense in terms of EPA allowed per play. Their one soft spot – which has yet to be exploited – is the inexperience of Purdy under center. The rookie quarterback has been a seamless transition in Shanahan’s offense, and stepped up with big plays in the second half versus Seattle.

The Cowboys’ attack needs to get off to a hot start if it wants to threaten this San Francisco stop unit and put the weight on Purdy’s shoulders. Dallas is coming off its best performance in over a month, with Dak Prescott looking incredible in the Wild Card Round. He has a bevvy of passing options – which can exploit a weakness in the 49ers secondary – and a dynamic rushing duo of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard to keep the 49ers’ defense guessing.

The Cowboys did cover as 2.5-point road favorites in Tampa Bay, which was just the second time this team has come through for bettors in the past six outings (2-3-1 ATS). San Francisco, on the other hand, has failed to cover only twice during its 11-game winning streak that stretches back to Week 8.

These long-time foes met in the Wild Card Round in last year’s postseason, with the 49ers winning 23-17 as 3.5-point road underdogs. The San Francisco defense was dominant, and the final score isn’t indicative of how one-sided that game was in favor of the Niners.

Cowboys vs 49ers Over/Under analysis

The Over/Under number for this primetime Divisional Round game opened at 46 points on Sunday night. The early move was toward the Over, with the number sliding up as high as 47 points. Wednesday morning saw Under money come in and sunk this total to as low as 45.5 points, and the market consensus as of Thursday afternoon is 46.

San Francisco is extremely efficient on offense, but also runs a more methodical pace with the football, ranking dead last in tempo with an average of 30.23 seconds per play. The 49ers can stick this game in the mud with their plodding pace and short strikes on offense, sitting No. 2 in average time of possession.

Defensively, San Francisco is very tough in the front seven. The Niners are able to create pressure on the passer without needing the blitz and have a game-breaking defensive end in Nick Bosa, who headlines the No. 5 pass rush in terms of ESPN’s win rate.

The Cowboys’ defense also has fangs up front, and sits No. 2 in pass rush win rate. Dallas is by far the best defense Purdy has played against this season, and has ball-hawking talents in the secondary who will make the rookie pay for any wayward throws. 

They do a good job getting opponents off the field on third downs, ranked out as the No. 4 Defense in DVOA in third and fourth down situations – a spot in which San Francisco’s offense ranks out No. 7 in DVOA. Dallas is also stingy in the red zone and complements those defensive efforts with the best red-zone offense in the land, scoring touchdowns on a league-high 73.3% of trips inside the 20-yard line.

The Cowboys enter this game with an 8-9-1 Over/Under count on the year, including a 4-5 Over/Under mark as a visitor. The Niners are 10-8 to the Over this season, with a 6-4 Over/Under record at home. Last year’s Wild Card matchup between these clubs closed with a total of 51 points in Dallas, but the final score played well below that number.

The forecast for Santa Clara is calling for partly cloudy skies and game-time temperatures in the mid-30s, with winds gusting up to 15 mph on Sunday night.

Cowboys vs 49ers same-game parlay

San Francisco Moneyline 

Deebo Samuel Rushing Yards Over 15.5

Elijah Mitchell Touchdown

The Niners are going to be a tough out at home, especially with the Cowboys on a limited week for prep and rest. Deebo will do damage on the ground once again, and Mitchell is a red-zone option both on the ground and through the air.

SGP odds+750 at bet365

Learn how to bet a same-game parlay with these helpful tips and strategies.

Cowboys vs 49ers betting trend to know

Kyle Shanahan is 6-1 ATS in seven playoff games since taking the head coaching role in San Francisco back in 2017. Find more NFL betting trends for Cowboys vs. 49ers.

Cowboys vs 49ers game info

Location: Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, CA
Date: Sunday, January 22, 2023
Kickoff: 6:30 p.m. ET
Opening odds: 49ers -3.5, 45.5

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