Cowboys / 49ers Divisional Round Preview: Meathead Analysis

Cowboys at 49ers Divisional Round Preview: Meathead Analysis

By Gabriel Rauch NFL analyst for

The Cowboys are playing the 49ers (-4) in a historical matchup that spans many eras of the NFL. The two teams have faced off in many great matchups on the way to their respective Super Bowl runs over the years. So how have things changed since the legendary matchups of the 90s?

Football seems to be getting smarter by the year; whether it is the rise of analytics, an increased reliance on scoring or simply better, more rounded, smarter athletes. More stats, more schemes, more, more, more! But what has not changed? This is still a game of superhumans trying to kill each other, motivated by a hunger of winning and competition. Teams can do all the schematics they want, but the result of a playoff game often comes down to which team: is more physical, plays better under pressure, and lastly who has more motivation.

Usually the gut pick wins, so let us write an article reminiscent of your local radio broadcasters or your dad who watches ten NFL games a year. 

Who Is More Physical?

Remember the old days (really not so long ago) when the winning ideology was to run the ball and play defense? Although running the ball does not matter as much, durability does. Football is a long game, which means the stronger and more durable players benefit. Both teams have good offensive and defensive lines and good running games, but the 49ers have a clear advantage at skill position, with BOTH the best pass catching running back in Christian McCaffrey and the best rushing wide receiver in Deebo Samuel. X-factor George Kittle rounds the offense out as the best blocking tight end. The Cowboys are also stacked at skill positions and their time-killing offense of short yardage throws and the sugar and spice backfield of Ezekiel Elliot and Tony Pollard will limit the amount of time Shanahan has to call plays. However, the 49ers are still the more physical team, much more reliant on the run and clearly have the advantage in this category. 

Who Is More Clutch?

While both of these teams are good, I would not call either clutch. The Cowboys have won more close games than they have lost, however, their losses in close games to the Jaguars and Packers were disturbing, blowing leads in the final minutes of each game. The 49ers have been a victim in their own success in this category, not winning many close games only because they keep winning their games handily. The 49ers have not lost in quite a while and their last two losses were blowouts by the Chiefs and Falcons. Simply because the Cowboys have more experience in close games with the veteran quarterback, Dak Prescott, they win this category by default. 

Who Wants It More?

Unlike college, the NFL is not a vacuum and players have lives outside of football. This is not Georgia football where Kirby Smart can convince his players that their team ranked #1 all year is somehow an underdog story. The NFL is not a vacuum and every man on each time has a life outside of football. Due to those reasons, one team may not want to win more, however, one team may still have more to play for. Make no mistake, this is still a group of very competitive men who could only have sustained success in the NFL by having a hunger to continue playing. 

In this category, there is a sharp contrast between the two teams. The 49ers are on their third string quarterback, while the Cowboys continue to fight allegations of choking in the playoffs every year. The Cowboys have more to prove, while the 49ers are playing with house money. In a game of millionaires who are freak athletes and football geniuses, a small amount of motivation could be the extra push they need. Advantage, Cowboys. 

Gut Pick

The 49ers have more talent so the average fan will bet them to win this game and cover the spread. Football fans around the country are also waiting for the Cowboys heartbreaking loss we all know is coming, however, it does not mean it will be this game. My meathead analysis says The Cowboys have beaten better teams and have more to play for. The Cowboys will be the biggest test the 49ers have had in months since they played the Chiefs in October and I expect them to be caught off guard in a close, wild game. 

Cowboys +4

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