49ers, Giants, Cowboys all advance out of Super Wild Card Weekend
The Super Wild Card Weekend is in the books, as the Cowboys downed the Buccaneers to give us our full slate of Divisional Round games. The Giants will take on the Eagles on Saturday Jan. 21 at 8:15 p.m. ET and the 49ers will host the Cowboys on Sunday Jan. 22 at 6:30 p.m. ET.
There was a lot of drama in the AFC Wild Card Weekend, but there was very little drama on the NFC side. The 49ers hammered the Seahawks 41-23 after getting off to a slow start and trailing at the half. The Giants did need a fourth-down stop to take down the Vikings, but New York’s thoroughly efficient offensive performance left little to the imagination for most of the game.
Finally, the Cowboys did a number on Tom Brady and the Bucs on Monday Night Football to punch a ticket to the second round with a 31-14 win. Was that Brady’s final game in the NFL? Probably not, but it was likely Brady’s last as a member of the Buccaneers.
The Eagles swept the two meetings in the regular season between these NFC East rivals and are -7.5 for the third meeting. They won 48-22 in the first game in Week 14 with a dominant performance and a season-high 253 rushing yards. They had a much closer Week 18 win with a 22-16 triumph that locked down the No. 1 seed and the NFC East, but the Giants played virtually all backups and started Davis Webb in that game.
The total sits at 48 and the early forecast calls for pretty good weather, all things considered. Given that the Eagles scored 48 points in the first meeting, it seems like this one has a good chance of going up, especially after the Giants racked up 6.3 yards per play with a stellar plan of attack against the Vikings. However, the Eagles had 70 sacks during the regular season (third all-time) and are a huge step up in class.
The injury status of Jalen Hurts remains a big question mark. Hurts missed Weeks 16 and 17, but did come back for Week 18 after Gardner Minshew and the offense laid a big egg against the Saints in a 20-10 loss. Hurts didn’t look himself, but the Eagles got the job done against the Giants in the regular season finale. Philadelphia desperately needed the bye based on his health and we’ll have to wait and see if he looks more like the MVP candidate he was throughout the season.
Brett Maher’s yips were the biggest story of the game on social media, but his missed extra points shouldn’t overshadow how well the Cowboys offense played. After limping to the end of the finish line in the regular season, Dak Prescott adeptly ran the Dallas offense and they racked up well over six yards per play. They picked apart the Bucs offense and sent home a team that many felt was a giant fraud. The Cowboys opened +4.5 at Caesars on the early number against the 49ers, but other books opened +4 and even Circa here in town opened +3.5.
Much like the situation for the Giants, the Cowboys are really stepping up in class here, particularly with the defense that they will be facing. If you name a defensive stat, there is a good chance that the 49ers lead the league or rank in the top five in that metric. They were far and away the best defense by EPA/play in the regular season (Dallas was second) and finished tied for second in takeaways (Dallas was first). Could this be a major defensive struggle?
Brock Purdy’s first career playoff start went well, as he threw for 332 yards on just 18 completions. This will be a stiffer test for him as well and Dallas was solid against the run throughout the season. He, too, is stepping up in class after putting up great numbers against some genuinely bad defenses.
We’ve got plenty of time to break this one down on air and at VSiN.com, so follow along all week for the latest.
VSiN NFL Links for the Divisional Round