Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers: Prediction, preview, pick to win

By The Sports Xchange  |  Oct. 19, 2017 at 4:34 PM
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DALLAS COWBOYS (2-3) AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (0-6)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, Levi's Stadium. TV: FOX, Thom Brennaman, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (field reporter).

SERIES HISTORY: 29th regular-season meeting. 49ers lead series, 15-12-1. 49ers lead series, 15-12-1. The road team has won the last three meetings, with the Cowboys prevailing 24-17 last October at Levi's Stadium. The 49ers haven't won a home game vs. the Cowboys in 20 years (November 1997). The clubs also have met seven times in the playoffs, with the Cowboys winning five.

KEYS TO THE GAME: Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard will get the call as the 49ers try for the seventh time to garner their first win. He made his debut in relief of Brian Hoyer last week in Washington as the 49ers lost 26-24 -- their fifth loss in a row by three points or less.

"I know we're 0-6 and that's extremely tough, but I'm extremely excited about this place and excited about where we're at and where we're going," 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said.

While San Francisco is looking for a breakthrough, Dallas (2-3) is simply hoping a reset gets its season on track. The Cowboys have already lost as many games this year as they did in 2016 and currently sit 2 1/2 games behind Philadelphia in the NFC East.

Fresh off its bye, Dallas got some surprisingly good news when a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order blocking the six-game suspension the NFL slapped on running back Zeke Elliott over domestic violence allegations.

The Cowboys ran well in the fourth quarter against the Packers two weeks ago as Elliott had 85 yards in the final stanza. They hope to build on that against the 49ers' solid run defense. The Cowboys need to run the ball and set up easy third downs for quarterback Dak Prescott.

Defensively, they must stop the run and find a way to force turnovers. The Cowboys have not had a turnover in the last three games.

This will be the 49ers' first home game since fan favorite linebacker NaVorro Bowman was surprisingly cut loose. Rookie Reuben Foster will be tested by Elliott.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

--49ers RB Carlos Hyde vs. Cowboys LB Sean Lee. The Cowboys have given up three 100-yard rushers this season after giving up none last year. Hyde has rushed for 648 yards and seven touchdowns. The Cowboys must get the run stopped. Lee will be back in the lineup after missing the last two games with a strained hamstring, games in which the Cowboys allowed 100-yard rushers by the Rams and Packers. Lee gets the Cowboys lined up right and he is the one who will focus on Hyde.

--Redskins WR Pierre Garcon vs. Cowboys CB Jourdan Lewis. Lewis has been game this season. He won't back down and doesn't get deterred when he gets beat. But the rookie has also been a target for big plays for opposing teams. The Packers picked on Lewis in the second half of a 35-31 victory two weeks ago, including the deciding touchdown pass. The 49ers will attack Lewis with Garcon, a savvy veteran who still has a knack for the big play and who has always played well against the Cowboys.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: 49ers QB C.J. Beathard. Most 49ers fans consider this season a throw-away at quarterback, with just a journeyman (Brian Hoyer) and a third-round pick (Beathard) holding the position until a collegiate standout can be drafted in April. Hoyer lived down to expectations in his two home starts, and now Beathard gets a shot at surprising the less-than-enthusiastic fan base. Dallas, which has been below-average against the pass this season, provides Beathard with an opportunity to shine.

FAST FACTS: Dallas QB Dak Prescott completed 23 of 32 throws for 245 yards and two TDs in the last meeting. He has 686 passing yards, eight TDs and two INTs in his past three games. ... WR Dez Bryant has caught a TD pass in the past two road games. He has five TDs in his past seven contests. His 55 receiving TDs since 2012 are the most in the NFL. ... In three games at San Francisco, TE Jason Witten has 20 catches for 234 yards and a TD. He ranks second among TEs in NFL history with 1,116 receptions and 12,117 yards. ... DE DeMarcus Lawrence leads the NFL with 8.5 sacks. He has a sack in all five games in 2017. He has five sacks and a forced fumble in his past two road games. ... RB Carlos Hyde rushed for two TDs in Week 6. He is tied for third in the NFL with four rushing TDs. He has run for a TD in each of the past two games vs. Dallas. He has 648 rushing yards (92.6 per game) and seven TDs in his past seven home games. ... Rookie DE Solomon Thomas tied for the team lead with a career-high nine tackles and added a sack last week. ... DE DeForest Buckner has 25 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble in his past four home games. ... S Eric Reid has eight tackles and an interception in two career meetings.

PREDICTION: The 49ers can't keep losing by a field goal every week, and Beathard seems to have a good shot at breaking their maiden in his first start, against a Dallas defense giving up 26 points per game.

OUR PICK: 49ers, 24-21.

--Chris Cluff

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