San Francisco 49ers @ Dallas Cowboys
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
9.25pm GMT Kick off. Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 1 HD
The 49ers fell at the considerable hurdle of the Seattle Seahawks in 2013’s NFC championship game. Entering 2014, most teams that made to the Conference Finals, would be expecting similar greatness from their rosters. There is however and unsettling aura around the 49ers coming into this season. Rumours of unhappiness with Coach Jim ‘Dad Pants’ Harbaugh persist. Harbaugh took a 6-10 team and turned it into 2 conference finals and a Super Bowl appearance in the 3 years he’s been in charge, so it baffles to think how anyone could be unhappy with him. The messy situation around Aldon Smith and his 9 game suspension still hangs over the franchise and adds the general sense that all is not right with the Bay Area team. The 49ers have the look of a team that has been hurtling down hill and have built up great speed all with a loose wheel. The wheel hasn’t come off yet but you get the impression it’s only a matter of time and when it does, the crash is going to be ugly.
Dallas on the other hand have been cursing along nicely with a number of loose wheels. The talent on this team is undeniable. A defence that should be better and an offence that has weapons comparable to the very best out there and they even managed to staple loose wheel numero uno, Jerry Jones, hands to the table when he tried to draft Johnny Manziel. Dallas are under pressure for a different reason. It’s passed time they should be challenging right at the top of the NFC, but while they’ve been muddling about New York have two super bowls, Philadelphia have the fastest offence known to man and Washington have RG3! Make or break is a term that gets thrown around every year but for Tony Romo ‘make’ can be the only option left.
These two teams share one of the most intense rivalries in NFL history. It is not born of repetitious familiarity in a division or a local clash, it is the rivalry of Titans. Some of the best ever have played in this game and some of the games greatest ever clashes have been courtesy of these two teams. Meeting 3 times in the playoffs in 1970-1972 with Dallas emerging victors in all. Renewed in the 80’s when Joe Montana found Dwight Clark for ‘The Catch’ in 1982 to win the NFC Championship and again in the 90’s when they faced off in 3 NFC Championship games in a row. This game has rarely been for pride, it has nearly always been for greatness.
It’s hard to pick a winner. The 49ers look in a funk on offence during preseason (we know, that’s only preseason) and Dallas have everyone fit and ready and it’s their favourite time of year….not Decemeber. Interesting to note the all time record between these teams is 16-16-1 so unless they meet in the playoffs, the winner will have the very best of bragging rights for another year at least. Entirely prepared to be wrong we’re going to go for a Dallas win 24-17.