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NFL: NFC Wild Card Playoffs Preview

The San Francisco 49ers defeated the Seattle Seahawks twice in the regular season, so will it be any different when they open up Super Wild Card weekend? 

The three first-round NFC playoff games are spread over the whole weekend with the Minnesota Vikings hosting the New York Giants on Sunday, before the tussle in Tampa between the Buccaneers and the Dallas Cowboys.

Niners fancied to move on

WhatSeattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers
WhereLevi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California
When16:30 ET, Saturday January 14th 2023
How to watchFox, Streaming via FuboTV
OddsSEA Seahawks +375, SF 49ers -500

Seattle rediscovered their mojo in the final two weeks of the regular season to sneak into the playoffs as No.7 seeds, but San Francisco will provide a much tougher examination than either the slumping New York Jets or disinterested Los Angeles Rams could muster.

Niners QB Brock Purdy continues to impress with his calmness and is now 5-0 as the starter. Things could change now the ante is upped in the playoffs, but his team have so many ways they can win this matchup that it might not matter if the rookie has a bad game.

Kyle Shanahan's team covered the spread in both regular season clashes, including a 21-13 win at Lumen Feld in December with Purdy under center when they were favoured by five.

There is no reason to suspect they won't cover the -9.5 point Spread at -110 on Saturday night either.

Christian McCaffrey is running with plenty of juice after the Niners managed his workload nicely following the midseason trade from Carolina, while both Deebo Samuel and Elijah Mitchell are back at full health, so they will be able to dial up some aggressive rushing plays.

Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle have been big contributors in the receiving game too as the 49ers have averaged 30.5 points per game during their current 10-game win streak.

The Seahawks' offense is going to have to come up with some big plays to keep things close, but the Niners' top-ranked defense sacked Geno Smith three times, held Seattle to 70 rushing yards and 4.5 yards per play when they last met.

Close contest on the cards

WhatNew York Giants @ Minnesota Vikings
WhereUS Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
When16:30 ET, Sunday January 15th 2023
How to watchFox, streaming via FuboTV
OddsNY Giants +145, MIN Vikings -165

It took a 61-yard field goal from Vikings kicker Greg Joseph to settle the Christmas Eve meeting of these two surprise playoff teams.

But there was plenty of encouragement for Giants fans to take into this return trip to Minneapolis.

Big Blue gained 448 yards of offense that day, had some chunk plays thanks to a few big-time throws from Daniel Jones and could have won.

Both teams made it to the postseason with negative points differentials, but each can be capable of pulling out a close win in this contest.

Minnesota's defense will probably scheme things differently to stop Jones burning their secondary again, while the Giants will rely on their pass rush to force Kirk Cousins into quick underneath throws that ought to limit the damage Justin Jefferson could do.

Cousins was sacked four times and took 11 hits in total last time they met, but the Vikings were without two key pieces on the offensive line, with center Garrett Bradbury and RT Blake Brandle both ruled out.

Bradbury was a full participant in Thursday's practice after being limited on Wednesday and his return from a back injury could enhance the Vikings' chances a great deal.

The score in that Week 16 contest was 13-10 entering the 4th quarter and it's likely that the defences might have learned enough from it to keep the Total below 48.0 points at -110.

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Cowboys look to have the edge

WhatDallas Cowboys @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
WhereRaymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
When20:15 ET, Monday January 16th 2023
How to watchABC/ESPN, streaming via ESPN+, FuboTV
OddsDAL Cowboys -140, TB Buccaneers +120

Tom Brady has also won all seven of his regular-season games against the Cowboys and has racked up an unprecedented 35 postseason victories in his career, but it all stops somewhere and Monday might be when the magic runs out.

The Cowboys turned in a performance to forget in losing their regular-season finale to the Washington Commanders, but they knew that there was little chance of them stopping the Philadelphia Eagles from clinching the division.

Expect a much more focused and intense performance from Mike McCarthy's men in Tampa - and particularly Dan Quinn's defense.

The Cowboys' front should put enough pressure on Brady to get Dallas, who are -140 on the Money Line, into the next round.

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