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Each Tuesday, WhatIfSports.com's NFL simulation engine will provide you with predictions, box scores and statistics for every NFL game that week. The NFL simulation engine generates detailed information including the home team's chances of winning (Home Win %), average score and comprehensive box score link. If you want to share your new found NFL knowledge with friends and family, make sure to check out our NFL Widgets on the WhatIf To Go page or click on the social networking share bar located at the top and bottom of the article.
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Game of the Week: 49ers at Cowboys
Historically, the Cowboys-49ers rivalry has been one of the more heated engagements in the NFL. Unfortunately, the two franchises have been on different wavelengths as of late. Under Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco has racked up 36 victories in the past three seasons, tops in the NFC during that span. Dallas...well, America's team hasn't enjoyed a winning campaign since 2009.
Not to say this duel has lost its fire. Boasting two of the league's most zealous fan bases, coupled with the excitement that's intrinsic to the NFL's opening weekend, you better believe Jerry's World will be rocking for this showdown. The Niners visit to Dallas serves as the WhatIfSports.com Game of the Week.
Though the 49ers enter 2014 as one of the more popular Super Bowl picks, the club is far from flawless. Three-time All-Pro NaVorro Bowman will likely miss the first half of the season, as the linebacker continues to recover from devastating ACL and MCL tears in the team's final playoff game last year. Also expected to miss time is the talented-but-troubled Aldon Smith, who will probably face a six-to-eight game suspension for various off-the-field incendiary matters.
Not to say the defensive cupboard is completely bare. Coordinator Vic Fangio is the best in the business, bad man Patrick Willis remains a force in the middle and Justin Smith, Ahmad Brooks and Eric Reid are Pro-Bowl playmakers. With a young, inexperienced secondary, San Francisco's resistance may be more vulnerable than in years' past, but the unit will still be a nightmare for opposing offenses.
Speaking of offenses, the Niners made some under-the-radar moves this past offseason to shore up their attack. Veterans Stevie Johnson and Brandon Lloyd have bolstered the receiving ranks. Along with Vernon Davis, Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree, Colin Kaepernick has five viable targets in the receiving arena, which should correlate to an uptick in the quarterback's efficiency. Also aiding things in the productivity front will be rookie running back Carlos Hyde. While Frank Gore endures as the primary ball carrier, the organization wants to monitor his touches this season to keep Gore fresh for January. As such, envision Hyde, who's turned in a remarkable performance in training camp, to be a big factor of the San Francisco offense in 2014. This dexterity on both sides of the ball is what makes the 49ers such a formidable challenger.
On the opposite side of the depth spectrum sits the Cowboys. No defense has been hit harder in the past few months than Dallas. The unit lost Jason Hatcher to free agency, DeMarcus Ware to cost-cutting measures, Sean Lee and draft pick Demarcus Lawrence to injury and Orlando Scandrick to suspension. Coordinator Rod Marinelli will have his work cut out; alas, it's an endeavor that might be too high of a hurdle.
Luckily the Cowboys have one of the more explosive offenses in the conference. Tony Romo, who tossed for 31 touchdowns and just 10 picks last season, helms an air attack that's second to none thanks to the contributions of Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and rising star Terrance Williams. If DeMarco Murray can stay healthy - concededly, a big "if" - don't be surprised if Dallas leads the NFC in scoring.
So who comes out on top in the battle of NFC titans? According to the award-winning WhatIfSports.com simulation engine, the 49ers get the W 68.9 percent of the time by an average margin of 25-19. For the rest of this week's predictions, check below:
NFL Week 1 Predictions
|@ Philadelphia Eagles||76.1||28||Simulate Game|
|@ New York Jets||70.0||23||Simulate Game|
|@ Denver Broncos||66.7||25||Simulate Game|
|@ Kansas City Chiefs||63.6||23||Simulate Game|
|Green Bay Packers||38.8||19||Boxscore|
|@ Seattle Seahawks||61.2||23||Simulate Game|
|@ Chicago Bears||60.3||25||Simulate Game|
|@ Baltimore Ravens||58.0||21||Simulate Game|
|New York Giants||43.6||23||Boxscore|
|@ Detroit Lions||56.4||26||Simulate Game|
|@ St. Louis Rams||56.2||22||Simulate Game|
|San Diego Chargers||45.1||24||Boxscore|
|@ Arizona Cardinals||54.9||26||Simulate Game|
|@ Pittsburgh Steelers||53.5||24||Simulate Game|
|New Orleans Saints||53.9||26||Boxscore|
|@ Atlanta Falcons||46.1||23||Simulate Game|
|@ Houston Texans||36.6||19||Simulate Game|
|@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers||34.6||21||Simulate Game|
|New England Patriots||67.7||26||Boxscore|
|@ Miami Dolphins||32.3||19||Simulate Game|
|San Francisco 49ers||68.9||25||Boxscore|
|@ Dallas Cowboys||31.1||19||Simulate Game|
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