The NFL is all about match-ups and this week’s showdown between the San Francisco 49ers (1-2) and Dallas Cowboys (2-1) is no different. A highly anticipated defensive struggle due to an expected rainy forecast, there is no question this game will be won down in the trenches.
However, if the 49ers are to win outright, they will need to muster up a better defensive performance than the one displayed last week against the Seattle Seahawks (2-1). In that game, Seahawks backup RB Christine Michael had a field day rushing for a career-high 106 yards and two touchdowns. I can’t help but think that 49ers DC Jim O’Neil made this a point of emphasis throughout practice and in the film-room this week, as they face an even better running back in Cowboys RB Ezekial Elliott.
The NFL’s No. 3 ranked rusher in the NFL despite being a rookie, Elliott will be out for blood, as he has the NFL’s best offensive line backing him up. Last week, Elliott rushed for a career-high 140 yards and with WR Dez Bryant likely ruled out for today’s game due to a hairline fracture, you can bet your top dollar that Cowboys HC Jason Garrett will run Elliott early and often, as they face the No. 23 ranked rush defense.
This is by far my number one key for winning the game- obviously turnover margin aside. Why? Because if the 49ers front seven can set the edges with backside containment, that will make the Cowboys one-dimensional in the passing game.
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott has shown plenty of promise early in the season, but if Coach O’Neil can show exotic looks while confusing the Mississippi State product pre-snap, that will only confuse his reads and progressions- which in turn will lead to interceptions.
However, the 49ers secondary will have to accomplish that feat without their top ball-hawk as DB Jimmie Ward has been ruled out for today’s game due to a strained quad. A non-contact injury that occurred on special-teams, losing Ward was a huge blow to the 49ers defense.
But with that being said, it’s a blessing in disguise because that means more reps for the 49ers best press-cover corner on the team- LSU rookie CB Rashard Robinson.
Look for Robinson to win his one-on-one battles while making a name for himself today, as I fully expect this to be his coming out party. How good? I expect Robinson to not only record an interception but make a nice few special-teams tackles as the team’s gunner. Bold? Yeah. But Robinson is the real deal and you will all see why.
With Coach O’Neil’s defense doing their part, look for the 49ers offense to do theirs. Led by the 49ers offensive line, look for RB Carlos Hyde to record back-to-back 100+ yard games for the first time in his young career. If you guys think this is a homer perspective, think again as the Cowboys are T-29th worse allowing 5.0 yards per carry. Ouch!
And that’s where this game will ultimately be won. Down in the trenches. Winning the TOP (time of possession) all while playing a clean game (no turnovers/penalties).
With the 49ers looking to bounce back in the win column, I believe they will. A team that plays stingy at home while looking the part of a playoff contender, look for the 49ers to come out on top winning 23-20.
Sakamoto: 34-17 (Over/Under)
With the total points set at 44.5, I would take the under. Vegas believes the 49ers will win outright despite being 1.5 underdogs.
Sakamoto: 31-20 (ATS)
With the 49ers being -1.5 point underdogs, I’m rolling with the 49ers. No WR Dez Bryant and a questionable LT Tyron Smith are huge blows to that offense while the 49ers already play stingy at home.
Fantasy Football (54/155)
2016: 5 of 9
As you know we select three players each game who we think will score touchdowns (quarterbacks omitted). Here are this week’s picks.
TE Jason Witten
RB Ezekial Elliott
RB Carlos Hyde
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