Game Time: Sunday, 3:25 p.m.
Location: Levi’s Stadium; Santa Clara, CA
Betting Odds: Dallas -3
Over/Under: 46 points
The Cowboys will once again more than likely be without Dez Bryant as they head to San Francisco to take on the 49ers. When asked how the Offense will fair without their star WR, Dak Prescott said, (and I paraphrase) It won’t change our offense any, we’ll just run our offense and whoever is open will get the ball. While that is what you want to hear from your QB, I honestly think he really believes that. And why wouldn’t he? Dez hasn’t really been the poster boy for elite receivers that we have been accustomed to over the course of his career. But with Ezekiel Elliott looking more like a 4th overall pick, Dez is starting to find his rhythm. Bryce Butler will presumably take the reins this week as the physical receiver cutting across the middle and should provide the necessary speed to open up the long ball as well. Butler said on Wednesday that he is ready to get the opportunity.
The 49ers defense pitched a shutout week 1 over the Rams, but have since allowed 46 points week 2 to the Panthers and 37 to Seattle. Their run defense isn’t shabby, ranking 10th in the league allowing only 122.7 ypg. Where the Cowboys can make their money is in the passing game. The 49ers rank 19th allowing 254.7 ypg through the air. All this includes the week 1 Rams game where they allowed only 130 passing yards and 65 net rushing yards. So the total yards are skewed a bit. The 49ers run a 4-3 and will be healthier than the Bears (who also run a 4-3), so Dak will see a few new looks that should provide a new test. With Tyron Smith still missing practice Wednesday due to his back issue, Chaz Green will be facing those same tests. If Dak and Chaz pass this test, the Cowboys should be 3-1 come Sunday night.
The Cowboys, on the other hand, rank 11th in total yards allowed, and 10th in points per game allowing just 20. With nothing even closely resembling a pass rush, the Cowboys need to find a way to get to QB Blaine Gabbert. Essentially rushing 4 Defensive Tackles can only get you so far as the Cowboys have racked up a whopping 5 sacks so far this season. Hope is on the horizon, however, as Demarcus Lawrence is expected back next week when the Bengals come to ATT Stadium.
Keys to the Game:
- Pressure Gabbert. Give any NFL QB time, and he will pick you apart, even Gabbert. The 49ers receivers don’t have any names that will scare you, so make Gabbert throw the ball quickly and there should be an interception in it for you.
- Get the ball deep. The 49ers, if smart, will stack the box and shut down Zeke. Use Brice Butler to open up the field while also running quick slants across the middle and that will force them to respect all facets of your game plan
- Don’t be cute. This should be a solid win. If the coaching staff (Jason Garrett), can put this team in a position to execute the simple things, the Cowboys should be able to win this thing pretty easily. Don’t let the 49ers get confidence, shut them down early, play tough.