Six Keys Ahead of Massive NFC Playoff Matchups

Say what you will about the legitimacy of this, 2022 49ers-Cowboys rivalry, but this first-round playoff game is as big as it is in the NFL.

The Cowboys are the team that lights up on ESPN. The 49ers are a juggernaut west of Dallas.

No matter what you think of the relevance of the 80s, 90s or 2000s, there is no doubt that these two biggest names in professional sports – regional and national powerhouses – are on their way to the winner’s home. fighting with.

Yes that’s good.

And I have a few thoughts — in honor of Seeding Six, Niners — on matchups I wanted to share this week before the hype machine got out of control:

• The Dallas matchup is kind of casual, as the Niners won’t need to change their game preparation on defense from week to week. The Cowboys are one of the NFL’s most prodigious users of 11 personnel — one tight end, one running back, three receivers — along with the Rams, who are synonymous with attacking.

• Fortunately for the 49ers, Cowboys quarterback Dan Prescott is average-to-best against a single-high security defense. A cover-3 defense – a basic field look with a high defense – is the defense he struggles against the most.

The Niners have mixed their defensive coverage in recent years, but they are still a cover-3 dominant team, using an eye on their nearly 400 defensive snaps this season, well above the league average. There’s some cover-4 and cover-6 (that is, in simple terms, a cover 3 flanked on one side of the field), but I expect the Niners to spend a lot of time in their base, nickel look on Sunday. ,