Home team in CAPS:
49ERS (-4) over Cowboys
These teams are primed to meet for the ninth time in postseason history. Dallas has won five of the eight previous meetings, but the 49ers are closing fast.
The latest meeting took place just last season in the wild-card round, with San Francisco making a close series even closer by winning, 23-17, on the road.
The Cowboys have been struggling in terms of attempting to drive deep into late-stage Super Bowl competition, since they last won the whole pot following the 1995 season.
Dallas made the most of the opportunity to take out the Buccaneers when they made short work of Tampa Bay on Monday night, vaulting to a 24-0 early advantage and coasting home.
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San Francisco got here by staging an enormous second-half surge to rally past Seattle, proceeding to run off and hide. Rookie QB Brock Purdy enjoyed a powerhouse passing day for the 49ers, launching four TD passes and racking up 332 yards in passing against the Seahawks’ defense.
The Cowboys haven’t made the most of some of their recent opportunities, which have left them trying to make the best of their fourth consecutive road trip, extending back to the conclusion of this campaign’s regular season.
Say this for the Niners: They’ve been making the best of their scheduling. They’ve won 11 consecutive games (covering in nine of them), and have outscored their opponents by considerable margins. It appears that the 49ers are determined to make the most of their narrow window of opportunity with the considerable talent they have on hand. This should be a classic, with all hands on deck.Christian McCaffreyGetty Images
Trust the 49ers braintrust. San Francisco’s ground attack is averaging 138.8 yards per game, good enough to rank eighth in the league. What’s more, the 49ers have forced 30 turnovers this season (second in the entire league).
The more you study the running figures, the more it appears that the Niners are coming on with considerable strength statistically, while the Cowboys are striving to keep their broad statistical rankings safe.
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BILLS (-5.5) over Bengals
Unhappy, concerned tidings have surrounded this contest ever since the originally scheduled display failed to get very far due to the horrendous collapse of Bills DB Damar Hamlin. It remains gratifying that Hamlin is recovering so well.
The Bengals have endured a tough road of late, not the least of which was their home date against the Ravens last week, which required a semi-magical 98-yard TD, followed by a late-stages defensive display to hold sway despite Baltimore “winning” the statistical battle.Josh AllenGetty Images
Cincinnati endured a two-decade-plus dry playoff run (eight consecutive losses), but has captured four of its past five playoff engagements — the only loss when the Rams beat them in the Super Bowl last year.
The Bills made the relatively easy look hard when they found themselves in a life-and-deathstruggle against the Dolphins last week, escaping by the skin of their teeth.
The Bengals, who looked like terrors even when they lost in a photo-finish in the Super Bowl, are now struggling, as multiple significant injuries to what was previously a better-than-you-might-think offensive line has taken much the worst of it in doctor’s offices. That leaves the door open for the Bills to get another shot at the elusive brass ring.
Most everyone with capable personnel departments sooner or later gets their best shot if they manage to enjoy anything resembling reasonable injury luck. It’s very difficult for many smart industry professionals not to believe that a trophy with Buffalo’s name on it will find its way to upstate New York.
A fully armed Joe Burrow is a very dangerous operative, and he is capable of some great athletic feats — but you don’t want to take the worst of it at market numbers.