On Sunday, October 2, the Dallas Cowboys will square off against the San Francisco 49’ers at Levi’s Stadium. Cowboys Blitz writers share their predictions on this Week 4 matchup that may not include several key players.
San Francisco began the 2016 season with an impressive 28-0 win over the Los Angeles Rams, but are now on a two-game losing streak. Dallas is more talented on both sides of the ball, but may be without star receiver Dez Bryant.
If you weren’t hiding under a rock, you were able to witness the lack of production by the Cowboys offense in 2015 with both quarterback Tony Romo and Dez Bryant sidelined with injuries. Dallas is dealing with a variety of injured players this season as well, such as Romo, Bryant, Orlando Scandrick, La’el Collins, and Tyron Smith.
Hello depth, nice to meet you. In 2016, the Cowboys offense has the highest third-down conversion percentage in the league heading into Week 4, led by rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott.
Dallas won their first game at home in over a year in Week 3, but can they continue their success on the road despite several injuries?
Dallas Cowboys (2-1) at San Francisco 49’ers (1-2)
Sunday, 3:25 p.m. CST
Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California
Jonah: It is games like these that will test how good the depth of the Dallas Cowboys roster really is this season. With injuries to Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, La’el Collins, Tyron Smith, and Orlando Scandrick, there will be young players stepping in with a big opportunity this Sunday. One player that I think makes the most of that opportunity is wide receiver Brice Butler, who will take over Bryant’s X spot on the outside, and I believe he gets behind the San Francisco defense at least once for a touchdown. One reason why Dallas drafted Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft was because of their inability to win without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, and this is a scenario in which Elliott will have to carry the team on his back. Despite the stockpile of key injuries for Dallas, I think the Cowboys will have no problem beating the 49ers on Sunday. Bold prediction: Dallas only had two defensive touchdowns in 2015, but they will score one at the expense of Blaine Gabbert and the San Francisco offense on Sunday, which will lead to Colin Kaepernick replacing Gabbert at the end of the game. Dallas 34, San Francisco 10
Cami: Dallas should win this game comfortably, but I don’t believe they will. The Cowboys clearly have more talent to escape with a win, but I have a feeling it will be a close game. San Francisco is struggling at the quarterback position, but they’re keeping Blaine Gabbert upright by only allowing two sacks within the first three weeks. It’s crucial that Dallas protects the ball on Sunday, as San Francisco has scored 45 points off of takeaways. With Dez Bryant likely sitting this one out, it will be tough sledding for Ezekiel Elliott. This could very well be Dak Prescott’s breakout game accounting for several touchdowns, but don’t be surprised if it includes his first turnover as well. Who would have thought that the Cowboys no-name defense would be ranked No. 12 in the league for yards per game given up heading into Week 4? I believe their streak continues with a takeaway in this game, too. Dallas 31, San Francisco 28
Bobby: It’s looking increasingly likely that Dallas will be without Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and Tyron Smith; arguably the three best players on the roster. Even while missing so much of their core, Dallas is still the better football team. The Cowboys need Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, their rookie phenoms, to play and act like veterans on Sunday if they want to win this ballgame. Even with all the attention and adulation that’s been heaped on Dak Prescott, I feel like this will be a breakout game for him that will silence any doubters. Look for at least two touchdown passes and north of 250 yards. Cole Beasley should continue to play the role of security blanket for Prescott; if you’re in a PPR fantasy league, start him. Dallas 28, San Francisco 10
Laurie: With much of the Cowboys prime cattle not on the paddock for Week 4, Dallas is going to have to play smart, disciplined football to account for a 49ers roster itself devoid of depth and star quality. On offense the rejigged line needs to control the point of attack, particularly against disruptive first rounder DeForest Buckner. It wouldn’t surprise me to see a little more read option sprinkled in as Scott Linehan looks to keep the edge of the San Francisco front honest with no Dez Bryant and a target on Ezekiel Elliott’s chest. As for the defense, one word comes to mind: Rally. There’s been a stark improvement from this unit with safety duo Barry Church and Byron Jones leading the pack. Dallas keys in on Carlos Hyde and limits his running room, while ‘Airplane Mo’ keeps close tabs on Torrey Smith on the back end. Not pretty, but pretty valuable. Dallas 23, San Francisco 16