COLUMN: Cowboys-Niners will be 2023’s top playoff matchup

De La Peña: QB play will decide Sunday’s victor


Godofredo A. Vásquez) | Associated Press

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) passes against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of an NFL wild card playoff football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

By Adrien De La Peña, Sports Reporter

As the divisional round of the NFL Playoffs approaches, fans are in for a treat with an electric weekend of matchups. The only game without a repeating matchup this weekend is Sunday’s game between the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers.

This game might not just go down as the best divisional round matchup, but the best matchup in this year’s playoffs entirely. These two teams showcase what may be the best defenses in the league paired with high scoring offenses.

The biggest factor in this game will end up coming down to quarterback play. The Cowboys have two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Dak Prescott, who has dealt with a thumb injury this season and suffered a season-ending ankle fracture back in 2020. Despite injury, he has managed to put up unbelievable numbers when healthy. In one instance, Prescott threw for 347 yards and three touchdowns in a major NFC East divisional matchup against the first-seeded Philadelphia Eagles on Christmas Eve.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) passes in the pocket as Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Devin White (45) drives in during the second half of an NFL wild-card football game, Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, in Tampa, Fla. (Chris Carlson | Associated Press)

Prescott is able to do this with explosive weapons like wide receiver CeeDee Lamb and tight end Dalton Schultz. The biggest question for Dak is whether will he be able to get the job done in this big game to send the Cowboys to the NFC championship game.

On the other side there is the 49ers, winners of their past 11 games. Rookie quarterback Brock Purdy and this past draft’s Mr. Irrelevant a nickname given to the final pick of the annual NFL Draft might be the most relevant quarterback in the playoffs if the 49ers can secure a win against the Cowboys.

Purdy has taken the league by storm being the only Mr. Irrelevant quarterback to throw a touchdown pass in the regular season, let alone to lead his team to the playoffs. This team has transformed itself into a movie-like season with arguably the best defense being led by the last pick in the 2022 draft.

One thing to watch is whether Brock Purdy will lead this 49ers team to the NFC championship and solidify himself as a starting quarterback, or if Dak Prescott will shut down the hype around now Mr. Relevant and give the Cowboys a chance at their Super Bowl win since 1995.