Mandatory Credit: Photo by Ron Jenkins/AP/Shutterstock (12763357o) Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard (20) runs against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game in Arlington, Texas 49ers Cowboys Football, Arlington, United States – 16 Jan 2022
Fred Faour: What needs to happen for the Cowboys to pull off the upset in San Francisco
As the Cowboys head into San Francisco this weekend, most pundits think the 49ers will roll. After all, the 49ers have won 11 in a row, and rookie quarterback Brock Purdy has been terrific since taking over, going 6-0 as a starter.
Plus, the NFL did not do the Cowboys any favors, placing them in a Monday night game and giving them a short week to travel from Tampa back to Dallas and all the way to San Francisco.
San Francisco is loaded on all three levels of the defense. Offensively, they have three of the best playmakers in football with RB Christian McCaffery, WR Deebo Samuel, and TE George Kittle. WR Brandon Aiyuk is no slouch, either. In addition, they have a terrific offensive line.
So yes, San Francisco should be the favorites. But the Cowboys have a real chance to make this a game and perhaps even win. Yardbarker has a great breakdown on how the Cowboys can stop Purdy. And that is a good place to start.
But there are some other factors in the Cowboys favor. While Dak Prescott has struggled with interceptions all year, he played one of the best games of his career against a solid Tampa defense. For the Cowboys to win, he will need to do it again. His ESPN Total QBR (my preferred measurement versus traditional passer rating) was a near-perfect 96.5. That never happens – his number was the 13th best of all time – but if he can come close …
The Cowboys will also have to run the ball effectively against that stout defense. That means more Tony Pollard than Zeke Elliott. They also need Prescott to run the ball even more than he did against the Bucs (7 for 24 yards). During the regular season, you don’t want to risk your quarterback getting injured. But at this stage, all the stops need to be pulled out.
Defensively, the Cowboys line mauled a weak Tampa offensive line last week. As bad as Tom Brady looked at times, it was always going to be tough to get the ball out with the Cowboys in his face. Dallas will have a tougher time against the 49ers line, but if they can put pressure on Purdy, at some point, he will turn into a pumpkin. And if that happens? Dallas has a puncher’s chance.
Yes, a lot has to go right for Dallas. But if it does? The Cowboys could pull off the upset.
Dallas can win if they play solid like they played against the Bucs everyone needs to show up and I hope that they want it bad enough, my opinion.