What NFL team is the current favorite to win the Super Bowl?
What NFL team has a quarterback that has only lost one game he’s started in two seasons, in which he was knocked out after just 22 snaps?
The answer for most fans, media, players, and coaches alike could be different to both of these questions. Of course, the second has only one right answer, and conveniently for Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager, it’s also his answer to the former. Brock Purdy’s only loss as the starter for the 49ers was last year’s NFC Championship game, where his injury handcuffed San Francisco’s offense helped the Eagles advance to the Super Bowl. Recovering from that elbow injury in remarkable time, Purdy has the 49ers right back as the class of the NFC, racing out to a 4-0 start to stand as the only unbeaten team next to Philadelphia.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on @1053thefan on the 49ers: “They are probably right now the most likely team to go win the Super Bowl. But in order for them to get there, they’ve got to go by us, hopefully two times, if that’s the way it falls in the playoffs and we’re in the…— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) October 3, 2023
Hyping up matchups in an attempt to create more buzz for a team after a win is nothing new in this game, but this Sunday night needs no further hype or expectation. Jones’ comment here goes well beyond the often glossed over coach at the podium following a win offering the obligatory compliments of their opponent being “a really good team” and “tough in all three phases”.
Cowboys at 49ers on Sunday Night Football is without a doubt a clash of conference contenders, a historic rivalry that’s been renewed in the playoffs the past two seasons. Jones said he again sees this year’s 49ers team as “the most likely to go win the Super Bowl” right now, but added “they’ve got to go by us” to get there.
The Cowboys didn’t have the benefit of a regular season meeting with the 49ers in either 2021 or 2022. They struggled to match the physicality of both Kyle Shanahan’s run game and Demeco Ryans’ defense at home in the Wild Card round, and again last year in what ended up being Kellen Moore’s last game as offensive coordinator in a 19-12 loss.
By changing the offensive brain trust to head coach Mike McCarthy and new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, the Cowboys are confident the team they’ll take the field with Sunday night can be an even more improved product by the time a second meeting may come along in the playoffs. The regular season schedule may not be easily divisible by quarters anymore, but the Cowboys have only one blemish on an otherwise 3-1 start with a score differential of 108-13 in their wins. They’re a top-five team according to seven of the eight outlets we looked at in our weekly power rankings, but still haven’t earned the respect of the undefeated teams that represented this conference in last year’s championship game.
Worth noting, the 49ers are ranked as the top team in the league by every single one of these outlets too.
Dallas knows their shot against Philadelphia will come, but the momentum a win against San Francisco would provide can’t be overstated. Not just for Jerry giving his unsolicited and way-too-early Super Bowl prediction that includes this week’s opponent, but for a cast of young players the Cowboys have counted on like Luke Schoonmaker and Jake Ferguson, Hunter Luepke, and Damone Clark starting to believe this team’s own championship expectations can be realized.
While millions of viewers may very well understand the amount of work both these teams will have to do between week five and any potential playoff game, the 49ers seem to be grandfathered into contending status no matter the quality of their wins. Shanahan’s uber-QB friendly offense aside, Purdy has more work to do in proving he’s as consistent a winner as even Dak Prescott - who’s shouldered some of the blame for the ongoing red zone issues the offense has had. The Cowboys defense righted a lot of wrongs from their only loss the week prior, and come into this clash of strengths against the 49ers offense ready for the challenge.
If Jones’ comments props this 49ers team up just a little bit more before his team ultimately hands them their first loss, the Cowboys can firmly put any college football-esque talk about strength of schedule behind them for quite a while. Beating the same Jets team that gave the Chiefs a scare 23-20 by a more definitive 30-10, but losing to the same Cardinals team the 49ers just beat 35-16, creates the circle of parity the NFL seeks to set up in matchups like this Sunday. The loser of this primetime game will still have a clear path to the playoffs, but all-important motives like seeding and home field advantage are certainly up for grabs.
Nobody on planet earth wants the Dallas Cowboys to be the next NFC team playing in the Super Bowl more than Jerry Jones. It has been a while since the sense around his team is that reaching this plateau is a truly realistic expectation, and as far as week five matchups go it doesn’t get much bigger than testing this championship mettle against the team that ended your season in consecutive years.