Dallas Cowboys vs San Francisco 49ers Matchup Preview - January 22nd, 2023

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Sunday Night Football will showcase a matchup between the Dallas Cowboys (12-5) and San Francisco 49ers (13-4). Oddsmakers peg the 49ers as the favorite with an implied win probablity of 64%, leaving the Cowboys with a 36% chance to record a win. The current spread is the 49ers -3.5 with a Game Total of 46.5.

It would be great to say something notable about Dallas, but they been about as unremarkable as a team can be this season. Offensively, they rank #12 in the league in yards per game (351). They haven't been strong or deficient in either facet of their offense, ranking #16 in passing yards per game (231) and #16 in yards per carry (4.4). They've been middle of the pack on defense as well, ranking #15 in yards allowed per game (339). Pass defense and run defense? You guessed it: #15 and #11 in the NFL, respectively. For all the good it's done them, the Cowboys like to lean on the run, keeping it on the ground for 43.5% of their play calls in a neutral context, #9-most in football. It's worth noting that they've run a very up-tempo offense this year. They've averaged 26.58 seconds per play, #4-fastest in the league. Perhaps of note is that they've no-huddle on offense (excluding plays run inside the two-minute warning) on 12.6% of their plays this year, #9-most in the league. Keeping a winded defense on the field (and unable to swap into different packages) can provide an advantage to an offense and at least keep them at a serviceable level. In terms of their offense, the Cowboys have ranked #12 in the league in total yards per game. They've passed for 231 yards per game (#16 in football). On the ground they've ranked #16 with 4.4 yards per carry.

San Francisco's primary advantage has been their run offense, which ranks #2 in football at 4.97 yards per carry. The most important component of a strong ground game is a good offensive line. If the line isn't opening up holes and creating space, it doesn't matter how good a team's running backs are. To that point, San Francisco's line ranks #8-best in the league in run blocking. Given their ground game success, this has opened up opportunities through the air too; San Francisco's 7.97 yards per target puts them #2 in football. When it comes to their defense, the 49ers check in at #2 in football when it comes to total yards allowed per game. Opposing air attacks have notched 227 yards per game against San Francisco this year (#21 in football). Opposing ball-carriers have ranked #2 against them with 3.53 yards per ground attempt. This 49ers defense hits their peak effectiveness when it comes to defending opposing running backs, keeping them in check at just 4.28 yards per target (#1-best in the league). San Francisco's defensive effectiveness bottoms out when it comes to defending opposing wide receivers, who have scorched them for 158 yards per game (#5-worst in the league).

Dallas Cowboys Insights

  • The San Francisco 49ers safeties rank as the best collection of safeties in football this year when it comes to run defense.

  • The San Francisco 49ers defense has been quite strong when opposing pass-catchers have gotten into space, allowing an average of 3.87 yards-after-the-catch this year: the 2nd-least in the NFL.

San Francisco 49ers Insights

  • The Sharp Model projects Brock Purdy to be a more important option in his offense's run game this week (8.0% projected Carry Share) than he has been this year (1.9% in games he has played).

  • George Kittle has totaled a lot fewer receiving yards per game (49.0) this year than he did last year (57.0).

  • The San Francisco 49ers have gone for it on 4th down a mere 15.8% of the time since the start of last season (3rd-least in the NFL), which typically means less offensive volume, less TD potential, and lower offensive metrics across the board.

Betting Trends

  • The San Francisco 49ers have covered the Spread in 8 of their last 9 games (+6.90 Units / 69% ROI)

  • The Dallas Cowboys have scored first in 6 of their last 8 away games (+3.40 Units / 29% ROI)

  • Ezekiel Elliott has hit the Receptions Under in 9 of his last 11 games (+7.00 Units / 48% ROI)