Let's watch some playoff football.
The Cowboys haven't been here in three seasons. Not only has that been a long wait, but this week alone seems like an eternity as we analyze this matchup with the 49ers.
Check out what our staff writers think will happen in Sunday's Wild Card game between Dallas and San Francisco.
Rob Phillips: Allow me to pull a Lee Corso here. I don't like how the 49ers' key players have Super Bowl experience, or how well they run the ball, or how good their front seven is, etc. But the Cowboys are pretty good too, and I just have a hard time seeing this season end at home in the first round. The Cowboys' front seven presents challenges for Jimmy Garoppolo on Sunday just as much as San Francisco is capable of pressuring Dak Prescott. And we'll see if Garoppolo's thumb injury is a factor after he played through it a week ago against the Rams. I'm taking the Cowboys in a tight game, provided they can create some chunk plays on offense and limit enough of them on defense against the 49ers' run and run-after-catch situations.
David Helman: Let's just play this thing already, because I can't handle the stress of waffling back and forth on such a tight matchup. The 49ers do two big things that have consistently troubled the Cowboys: run the ball well and run after the catch. That's a dangerous combination if the Dallas defense isn't on its game, as we've seen them burned by explosive plays throughout the season. That said, I don't trust Jimmy Garoppolo to play a clean game against this pass rush, and I do trust the Cowboys to force a mistake or two in the red zone. In a perfect world, the 49ers are either turning the ball over or settling for field goals – which is something I think Dallas can manage. On the flip side, if the Cowboys' offensive line can just keep Dak Prescott on his feet, I like his prospects in making enough plays to win. I think this is going to be a heavyweight slugfest -- a real street brawl of a game. I've got enough faith in this team to rise to the occasion and grind out a stressful, 23-19 Cowboys win.
Nick Eatman: In no way am I dismissing the 49ers and how they are playing lately and the style of play the use, but I do think the Cowboys have been overlooked this year. To me, all these national media "experts" probably have to pick some upset here and there and this is a trendy pick. Can the 49ers win? Of course they can if the Cowboys don't stop the run. I just don't think Dan Quinn will let that happen. He's not going to let his defense get run over. So I see them shoring it up enough to force Jimmy G to make plays, and I think he will ... for the Cowboys. I'm picking Dallas to out-rush the 49ers in this game. It'll be close for a while but the better team with the better quarterback will pull away. Give me Dallas 30-20. Hmm, have you seen that score before?
Kyle Youmans: There is a lot of excitement around this game for many reasons, including the history and pageantry around these two legendary franchises and fanbases. But for me, my excitement is for a team who has a chance to be special. The 2021 Cowboys have done so many special things leading into this playoff run and have the talent to make a deep run if they play up to their expectations. San Francisco brings a tough matchup, especially with a defense that has been playing as well as any in the NFL over the last two months. But top-to-bottom, I believe Dallas is the deeper and more talented team which will ultimately show up this weekend. Dallas wins it in a statement to open the playoffs and set the tone for what is to come, 38-24.
Mickey Spagnola: The Cowboys have all the stars you would want, Dak, Zeke, CeeDee, Amari, Cedrick, Pollard, Schultz, Micah, Diggs, Gregory and D-Law. But this first-round playoff game against the 49ers will come down to the performance of that Cowboys offensive line, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and them. This line, with the gang all back together again, must perform admirably against the formidable San Francisco defensive front, both in creating running lanes for Zeke and Tony Pollard and protecting Dak Prescott. The Cowboys have the offensive firepower to win this game, but stars won't come out unless the offensive line performs well. Gut says it will, meaning Cowboys Victory, 27-23, over the 49ers.