The Cowboys have already crossed off one big item – beating Tom Brady for the first time ever.
They also secured their first road playoff win in 30 years.
So now, how about their first NFC Championship appearance in 27 seasons? To do that, the Cowboys must get past the 49ers, the team that ousted them from the playoffs a year ago.
Will this year be different? Check out what our staff writers think will happen this Sunday in the Bay.
Patrik Walker: The 49ers are unbeatable, so what's the point of even showing up for the game if you're the Cowboys. Oh wait, maybe it's because they're as beatable as any of the other remaining teams in the playoffs and the Cowboys actually do have a chance to shock the world — for a second week in row. Gasp. Bottom line? The 49ers are the most formidable foe the Dak Prescott-led Cowboys will face in 2022, but the Cowboys are also the most dominant defense Brock Purdy has faced; and by a country mile. If the Cowboys can limit yards after the carry (big ask) and confuse/punish the rookie QB (smaller ask), then Prescott and his stable of weapons can get to work in trying to mirror what the Chiefs did to the 49ers defense (44 points in a victory). Tackle, eliminate penalties, win the turnover battle and say hello to the NFC Championship Game. Revenge is a dish best served cold, but be ready for a 12-round fight that will require four quarters of focus to claim it. 30-24, Cowboys
Nick Eatman: Here we are again – Cowboys vs. 49ers in the playoffs. Not only is this one of the best playoff rivalries of all time, but just the fact that it's a rematch of last year seems ironic. Not only did the 49ers knock the Cowboys out of the playoffs last January, but it seemed to haunt this franchise all offseason as they literally went out of their way to draft, sign or trade to get physical, big players that can stand up in a matchup like this. And guess what, the game is upon us and the 49ers are even better than they were last year. But the Cowboys are as well. I've said it all year long – this season just feels different for the Cowboys and now it's time to prove it. I don't know how they get it done, it'll take some big plays like turnovers and perhaps even a blocked punt. But the Cowboys find a way to get it done and beat the 49ers on the road, 27-23, sending me, I mean the Cowboys, to the NFC Championship Game for the first time in 27 years.
Hailey Sutton: WHOO! First road playoff win in 30 years finally out of the way – but listen, there's work to do this weekend. The matchup everyone has been waiting for… a rematch against San Francisco. It's the reason behind the theme of "resilience" and one that's been quietly motivating this team all season long. So many factors go into this one… two of the best defenses facing off, how to contain the dual threat of Deebo Samuel & Christian McCaffrey, and of course, how will Brett Maher perform after last weeks "misfires?" Ironically enough, I really believe this one comes down to a game-winning kick to make the difference. I don't see it being a high-scoring affair, so the Cowboys will have to take advantage of every opportunity – including from the kicking spot. I believe in Maher, just like I believed in Dak when he was working through interception gate. Apply the pressure to Brock Purdy, make him make quick decisions and capitalize on your opportunities (cough cough BRETT) and we'll be talking about a conference championship. I'm taking Dallas 24-21.
Mickey Spagnola: Here we are, a ninth playoff game for the Cowboys against the San Francisco 49ers, the Cowboys currently holding a 5-3 edge, four of those wins and just one loss in NFC Championship games. These teams are pretty even, each incurring at least three bad losses, the Cowboys to Washington, Green Bay and Tampa Bay, none finishing with a winning record. And San Francisco did the same, losing their season opener to Chicago, then Denver and Atlanta, also teams with losing records, though now having won 11 straight. The Cowboys were two overtime losses shy of winning 10 straight. And this gut feeling has nothing to do with Xs and Os, but the quiet confidence the Cowboys have coming into this game. Soooo, Cowboys 35, Niners 31. Get your popcorn ready for this one.
Kyle Youmans: With everything on the line, including revenge from a year ago, things just feel different. San Francisco may be the better team on paper, but they're vulnerable in a couple of areas. Some of those areas are exactly where Dallas is vulnerable like the secondary and the possibility for turnovers. Which makes me believe whoever wins the turnover battle, will win the game. I think Dallas sees an opportunity to rattle Brock Purdy early and often by getting in the backfield and disrupting his timing. Because of that there's a chance for turnovers that could unravel quickly. It's going to be a tough and physical football game that'll come down to the wire but give me the Cowboys 27-23 to win it off a fourth quarter touchdown drive.