The Dallas Cowboys are slated to take on the San Francisco 49ers this Sunday at 4:30 ET at home. This will be the Cowboys first home playoff game since the 2018 season. And The 49ers pose an interesting match-up this Sunday. They have a very unique offensive style. It highlights their almost position-less weapons combined with a head bending and rule-breaking scheme designed by head coach Kyle Shanahan.
In this article, I will highlight three players who could be key components in a Cowboys victory. Whether they take over the game, come up with a big play in a meaningful spot, or just do their job!
X-Factor 1. Tony Pollard, RB:
Stats: 130 carries, 719 yards, 5.5 YPC, 2 TDs
Tony Pollard, is the 1b to Ezekiel Elliott’s 1a. Pollard is the lightning, game-breaking speed, and big-play ability to Zeke’s headstrong, physical, beat you down running style. Pollard’s five and a half yards per rush this year ranks second in the NFL. Combined with a pretty stout 3.61 yards after contact per attempt, and 17 explosive runs, that makes him one of the most underrated big-play threats in the NFL.
If the Cowboys start to struggle early don’t be surprised if they turn to Pollard to ignite the offense. Hopefully he will be given opportunities to break the game wide open. If given a fair share of touches he could do tons of damage and provide the offense with a spark
X-Factor 2. Blake Jarwin, TE:
Stats: 16 targets, 11 receptions, 96 yards, 8.7 YPR, 2 TDs
Blake Jarwin has had a pretty disappointing past two seasons of football. After signing a 4-year, $22 million contract before the start of the 2020 season. Starting off the 2020 football campaign Jarwin went down in week one with a non-contact ACL tear, absolutely brutal. With sights set high on 2021 pairing him with Dalton Schultz who gained valuable playing time in Jarwin’s absence.
He looked to set his sights on having a fantastic year, only to have a grueling hip injury and contracting COVID-19 sideline him for 10 weeks. Jarwin made a Week 18 return and is ready to add his skillset to the multitude of playmakers the Cowboys already have.
Blake Jarwin being 6’5 with deceptive seam stretching speed is his best ability. That exact ability is what Dallas was looking for in games this year when teams committed to stopping Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb on the outside. Look for Jarwin to get a favorable matchup against a linebacker or strong safety and attack the seam. I’m not expecting a break-out performance from him. But, a few timely catches and possibly a red-zone touchdown could be huge for the Dallas offense.
X-Factor 3. Jayron Kearse, Safety:
Stats: 75 solo tackles, 16 assists, 30 stops, 2 INTs, 9 PBUs, 2 TDs
Jayron Kearse is a journeyman who has played on three teams in his six years in the NFL coming out of Clemson. He unexpectedly not only became a physical presence as a box safety, but became the green-dot for the Cowboys defense.
Kearse this week in media interviews was tired of hearing about who he will be matched up against in this game. In response after calling George Kittle one of the best TEs in the NFL, per Jon Machota, Kearse said, “He has to go against me, too. I kind of get ticked off when I’m being asked Kittle this and Kittle that. He has to play me, too. We’ll see how that shakes out.”
I’m not going to lie that’s bold for a mostly unknown 6-year vet to go at a top player in the NFL. But I am never going to be against a player having confidence in himself.
Dan Quinn, the Cowboys defensive coordinator, has used Kearse in the box a ton this year, using Kearse as a run defender and a tight end eraser. Facing this offense, it will be paramount for him to do his job. He will need to be a physical force setting the edge, attempting to tightly cover Kittle, and being a sure tackler.
The 49ers as a team lead the league by a mile in yards after contact. They thrive off of short passes that allow their playmakers to get in space and force you to bring their guys down in the open field. This task is no walk in the park with players like Kittle and Deebo Samuel coming at you. I believe this will be how Kearse makes a huge impact on Sundays game.
These X-Factors for the Dallas Cowboys vs The San Francisco 49ers game are not the household, big-name stars that most know. If the Cowboys do walk out of AT&T Stadium with a victory, these players will be of the utmost importance to their success.
Prediction: Cowboys 31, 49ers 27.
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