Dallas Cowboys 2021 Playoffs, Wild Card Preview

January 11, 2022

In the blink of an eye, the 2021 NFL regular season has come to a close. Dallas ends the regular season as NFC East champions, a 12-5 record, and enter the playoffs as the third seed overall. The Cowboys put together a solid regular season and now they get a chance to prove themselves in the playoffs. Dallas hosts the San Fransisco 49ers this Sunday at 3:30 pm EST. In one of many wild card games, this matchup between Dallas and the 49ers will be another chapter in the storied rivalry of old between these two squads.

Cowboys vs 49ers Playoff History

The most interesting part of this playoffs rivalry took place in three different decades. By the late 90s, this rivalry became only a regular-season matchup. This Sunday will be the first playoff matchup between Dallas and San Fransisco since 1995. Dallas leads the playoff series 5-2 so Dallas has the bragging rights overall but both sides have seen incredible playoff moments between these franchises.

–The 1970s–

In the 70s, Dallas owned the rivalry winning all three playoff matchups. The first playoff meeting came in the 1971 NFC championship where Dallas won 17-10 and eventually the Super Bowl. They would meet once again a year later in the NFC championship and yet again Dallas emerged victorious 14-3. The final meeting of the 70s saw Dallas defeat the 49ers in the divisional round by a score of 30-28.

–The 1980s–

The 80s version of this rivalry has only one example, but it is one of the most famous games of all time. Dallas and San Fransisco’s lone meeting came in 1982 in the NFC championship game. The 49ers emerged victorious 28-27 due to one of the biggest plays of all time in “the catch” by Dwight Clark. Dallas and San Fransisco would not meet again in the 80s but the lone meeting cemented the 49ers in NFL history.

–The 1990s–

The 90s version saw a much better Dallas Cowboys team but the 49ers were no strangers to winning in the 90s either. Dallas won the first of three 90s era playoffs meetings by a score of 30-20 in route to another NFC title and Super Bowl. The second meeting also ended in Dallas’ favor by a score of 38-21 once again in the NFC title game. The final playoff meeting of the 90s came in 1995 that saw the 49ers win 38-28 in the NFC championship.

2021 Dallas Cowboys

The 2021 Cowboys have put together a solid regular season. The 2021 Cowboys became the first team in NFL history to feature a 4,000+ yard passer, 1,000+ yard receiver, 1,000+ yard rusher as well as a player with 10-plus sacks and a player with 10-plus interceptions all in one season. Dallas overcame injuries to win 12 regular-season games en route to their 24th NFC East title (most in division history). Dallas went 6-0 in division games this season which is the first time that has happened since 1998 overall. This is only the second time in the 51-year history of the NFC East that Dallas has run the table in division games.

This Dallas team ended the regular season with the number one ranked offense at 407 yards per game. Their defense showed strides of playing at an elite level considering they forced a league-best 34 takeaways and league-best 26 interceptions. Say what you want about Dallas but they have the pieces to really make a run in the playoffs. The road will not be easy but if Dallas can find their groove, watch out NFL.

2021 San Fransisco 49ers

The 2021 49ers fell a tad short of their preseason projections. However, they are playoff bound and that was a big goal for them. The 49ers were playing for a Super Bowl not too long ago but injuries have since plagued them. In the regular season the 49ers managed to finish 10-7. They went 7-2 from week 10 until the end of the regular season including a 27-24 overtime win over the Rams in week 18 securing their playoff spot.

Jimmy Garoppolo had a solid regular season finishing with 3,810 yards and 20 touchdowns. After losing starting running back Raheem Mostert, rookie Elijah Mitchell stepped in and produced immediately. However Mitchell has had injury problems as well that prevented him from reaching the 1,000 yard mark. The biggest producer has been receiver Deebo Samuel who finished with 1,405 receiving yards and 365 rushing yards and 14 total touchdowns. The way I see it, this 49ers team is catching fire at the right time and could be a dangerous team in the playoffs.

Matchup Preview

These teams last met in 2020 when the Cowboys defeated the 49ers 41-33 in Dallas. The Cowboys lead the all-time series 19-17-1.

–The scoring ability favors Dallas. Dallas enters this matchup scoring a league best 31.2 points per game while San Fransisco is scoring 25.1 points per game.

–Dallas has the upperhand in the passing game throwing for 282.4 yards per game. San Fransisco is averaging 248.3 passing yards per game.

–San Fransisco has the advantage in the run game at 127.4 yards per game. However, Dallas is not far behind at 124.6 rushing yards per game.

–The biggest advantage for the 49ers will be their defense. The 49ers have the number three defense in the NFL allowing only 310 total yards per game. Dallas might lead the league in takeaways but they still allow 351 total yards per game.

Final Prediction

The high powered Dallas offense will be tested in the wild card round against a tough 49ers defense. If Dallas can get their playmakers active, they could win this game. I think the Dallas defense will force some key turnovers leading to more scoring chances. This storied rivalry will add another chapter to the book and Dallas will be the winner.

28-17 Dallas wins.

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