Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:45 AM EST odds are subject to change.
San Francisco -4 -110 over Dallas
6:30 PM EST. Let’s assume for a moment that both Dallas and San Francisco were awarded a bye and this game was scheduled to be each team’s first playoff game. That would mean that Dallas wouldn’t have played Tampa Bay last week and San Fran would not have played Seattle. What would this line be had Dallas not played the Bucs last week? San Francisco would have been a -7 point favorite and perhaps even -7½. Let’s not forget that the Cowboys were mind-numbingly bad in Week 18 when a stripped-down Commanders' roster put a 26-6 whooping on the Cowboys who appeared more akin to a JUCO squad from a small college than an NFL division winner.
What happened next was Dallas drew the lucky pairing with the even worse Buccaneers, who stumbled into the playoffs by fronting for a division filled with nothing but losing records. The Cowboys looked credible again on Monday, racing out to a 24-0 lead and coasting to the 31-14 win. The Buccaneers were there only because every division must send someone. We had been preaching for weeks that 45-year-old Tom Brady was finished and could not compete anymore in a kid’s game. Incidentally, San Francisco beat Tampa too, back in Week 14 by a score of 35-7. The 49ers ran for 209 yards that day, built a 28-0 halftime lead and probably could’ve won 56-7 had they kept their foot on the gas. Point is, Dallas beating the Bucs last week means jack.
The 49ers offense is diverse and stocked with different weapons. They trailed the Seahawks 17-16 at half, and then just pulled away in the second half with 25 straight points before the Seahawks managed a trash time score with less than two minutes left and lost 23-41.
As it turns out, Brock Purdy is very relevant. The offense is considered QB-friendly, and the seventh-round rookie enjoys a plethora of weapons and one of the top offensive lines in the league. But - he's shattered all expectations by winning all seven starts, throwing for at least two scores in every game and last week when it mattered most, he threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns, plus ran in his first rushing score. Regardless of what happens from here on out, Purdy has been everything that they hoped for Trey Lance and did not get.
Dallas kicker Brett Maher now famously missed four straight extra points in the same game for an NFL record. No bad weather. No rain, sleet, snow or a hint of wind. Just four missed extra points. We have to wonder how confident he is feeling and we also have to wonder if his ineptness will cause Mike McCarthy to make some bad decisions, like going for it on fourth down instead of kicking a FG or something along those lines. Put a little pressure on McCarthy and force him to make decisions. The more decisions that he has to make, the better for the 49ers. On one side is the McCarthy/Moore clown factor and on the other side is Kyle Shanahan, one of the brightest minds in the game. If coaching matters and it’s worth a point or two, well, now the 49ers look like an even bigger bargain.
Our only reluctance here is that this price (to us) looks almost too good. We’re not 100% sure if the market is overreacting to Dallas’ strong game last week (much like it reacted to the Giants strong game) or if the 49ers are the “sucker bet” of the weekend. It’s a dilemma we struggled with all weekend. However, Dallas will have a bit of a scheduling disadvantage, with two fewer days off since the Wild Card round and having to travel to the Bay Area to boot. Waiting for them, is a great defense that is unlikely to give Dak all of the easy completions, or get completely fooled on a fourth-and-goal bootleg, as Tampa Bay was on Monday. Prescott figures to be under considerable duress, a far different scenario than the ones in which Dak has posted his biggest stats, such as the 5 TD passes vs. the Bucs. And comparing the jalopy that is the Tampa Bay offense to the Ferrari that is the San Francisco model couldn’t be more stark.
With Brock Purdy now having the complete confidence of Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers offense has taken on a new dimension and has more game-breakers on offense than any team Dallas has seen, with a now-healthy Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk, and TE George Kittle, all big-play threats. Let’s just throw out Dallas’ win at Tampa last week against a weak team and what do you have? What you have is an overpriced team that played a weak schedule (the last nine weeks of the season was especially weak) and didn’t look pretty doing so. Unless our read is completely wrong and SF is a sucker bet, the 49ers are a bargain here.
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San Francisco -4 -103 (Risking 2.06 units - To Win: 2.00)