49ers vs Cowboys Divisional Spherical: How did Dak Prescott lead the league in picks?

A as soon as bitter rivalry renewed? It positive looks as if it, because the Niners-Cowboys will sq. off within the playoffs for the second time in two years. Nonetheless, there’s a basic sense that after final yr’s highway victory, the Dallas gamers have needed this rematch, and there’s an identical sense the San Francisco gamers are welcoming the problem.

As a lot residual unhealthy blood appears to have hungover, there are seemingly as many variations between final yr and now as there are similarities. The Niners will host in Levi’s as the favourite this time round, Brock Purdy would be the beginning quarterback with Christian McCaffrey lined up behind him, and the general well being on each side of the ball has by no means been higher. How precisely have the Cowboys modified during the last yr?

With that in thoughts, I reached to David Halprin at Running a blog the Boys to get us prepared for Sunday with an in depth scouting report.

1. Dak Prescott seemed super on Monday night time towards the Tampa Bay Bucs after what could possibly be described as a polarizing common season. Are you able to converse on Prescott’s interception points (main the league whereas lacking 5 video games)?

Prescott has had an awesome yr statistically till the interceptions come into play. The Cowboys have largely been in a position to overcome them as a result of when Prescott isn’t throwing interceptions throughout a sport, he’s normally carving a protection up. So it’s a very bizarre dynamic.

The interceptions fall into two classes, these which might be Prescott’s fault and people which might be on the receivers. And that’s simply not excuse-making for Prescott. I’ve been watching soccer for a very long time, and I can’t keep in mind a season the place receivers for the Cowboys are both letting good passes bounce off their fingers right into a defender’s fingers or two receivers find yourself in the identical space drawing surprising protection to route mixtures, or receivers operating the unsuitable route or slowing down on routes that find yourself being interceptions.

It’s been slightly weird how a lot this stuff have occurred this yr. In order that considerably accounts for Prescott’s irregular variety of interceptions.

However there may be the Prescott issue on this too. He has been forcing throws into tight protection too typically. He has been grasping downfield generally when he may test it down and even run the ball whereas exterior the pocket. He’s simply been actually aggressive at instances, and it has burned him extra this yr than in different years.

It’s actually laborious to knock him as a result of, statistically, he’s been fairly wonderful in the event you low cost the interceptions. So would he be placing up the numbers he has and the numbers the offense has since his return if he wasn’t being so aggressive? It’s a troublesome name.

2. Outdoors of Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs, who’ve been influence gamers on the protection that Niners followers ought to concentrate on heading into this matchup?

Leighton Vander Esch is placing collectively a extremely good season at linebacker. He’s the man who makes the calls on protection, and he’s additionally the man that will get all people lined up within the correct place pre-snap. He even calls out the opposition’s upcoming play at instances.

His tackling within the run sport has been on level, and he’s additionally picked up his move protection. The Cowboys actually missed him on protection when he was not too long ago out for a couple of weeks.

DeMarcus Lawrence and Dorance Armstrong make a high quality pair at defensive finish. Lawrence is phenomenal towards the run, both setting the sting or operating down ball carriers from behind. Armstrong has actually come on as a move rusher and a man who creates havoc within the backfield.

Within the secondary, rookie nook DaRon Bland leads the workforce in interceptions with 5 and is likely one of the steals of the draft as a result of the Cowboys picked him up within the fifth spherical (after all, not on the extent of a Brock Purdy steal!). And Jayron Kearse is a do-everything security who simply makes performs in all components of the sport.

3. Going into the season, the NFL scuttlebutt gave the impression to be that Mike McCarthy was merely holding the place for his eventual alternative Sean Payton. Now these rumors have been deemed “comical” by Dak. What’s modified, and the way would you charge the job McCarthy’s performed in 2022?

I suppose the factor is that final offseason, the Cowboys fanbase, media, and workforce have been fairly devastated after the 49ers took Dallas out within the first spherical. After such a very good common season, there have been excessive expectations going into the playoffs that have been shortly dashed.

That most likely led to a whole lot of hypothesis about change and what was wanted to recover from the hump. That simply so occurred to line up with the beginning of the Sean Payton teaching saga, and the Cowboys have lengthy wished they might have by no means let Payton get away from their teaching employees.

However taking a look at it objectively, McCarthy has performed a extremely good job in Dallas. In 2021, the workforce gained 12 video games within the NFC East and went to the playoffs. In 2022, the workforce gained 12 video games once more and gained a playoff sport (to this point). That was the primary back-to-back double-digit win season for the Cowboys since ‘95-’96.

It was the primary back-to-back playoff season since ‘06-’07. He managed to maintain the workforce collectively and win when Prescott went down for 5 video games in the beginning of this season. And the gamers appear to love taking part in for him and purchase into him being the coach.

There are nonetheless instances you query some in-game choices and clock administration, however general it’s actually laborious to argue towards the success he’s having.

4. What is going to your panic degree be when Brett Maher steps as much as kick this Sunday?

Yikes. It’s a bizarre factor as a result of when the Cowboys introduced again Maher to begin this season, no Cowboys fan trusted him due to the inconsistency of his first stint in Dallas. Everybody was asking, ‘why are the Cowboys doing this’. Then Maher was so good this yr that he earned the nickname Cash Maher.

He was killing it, and his kicks have been virtually all the time down the center. Most non-Cowboys followers don’t know that he additionally missed his one PAT throughout Week 18, so he really had a streak of 5 straight missed PATs till he lastly knocked one by way of on the finish of the Bucs sport.

I’m going to attempt to persuade myself that it’s only a psychological factor that he’ll recover from, however in actuality, I’ll most likely be yelling for us to go for it on fourth downs and to go for 2 after touchdowns.

5. In accordance with Draftkings Sportsbook, the Niners are 4-point favorites, and the over/below sits at 46. Do these really feel like lifelike numbers to you, and what’s your remaining rating prediction?

I feel the unfold is fairly honest, with the 49ers being the house workforce. That’s normally value a couple of factors, so having the 49ers because the small favourite is sensible to me, given the information in the course of the common season and each groups taking part in within the Wild Card video games.

Forty-six ought to look like a practical O/U, given how good each of those defenses are, however these groups even have offenses that may rating in bunches, so I might most likely take the over on that. I feel this sport will likely be shut, with each groups in a position to rating towards high quality defenses.

I’ll take the Cowboys as a result of I need to preserve hope alive, by the rating of 29-27, with the Cowboys’ 29 quantity coming from one missed additional level.

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