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NFL - Week 14 talking points

It was another good week for the San Francisco 49ers, while the Carolina Panthers issued a reminder they aren't done just yet either. 

Purdy good start for Mr Irrelevant

The San Francisco 49ers continue to find ways to get it done in a season where they have lost two starting-calibre quarterbacks and suffered countless other injuries.

Brock Purdy capped a whirlwind eight months since earning the Mr. Irrelevant tag as the 262nd and last draft pick by beating Tom Brady in a superb first-ever start in the NFL.

Niners coach Kyle Shanahan only asked Purdy to throw 21 passes against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, but he made the most of his opportunity by providing 185 yards of offense through the air and two touchdowns.

He also added a rushing score to cap a memorable night in front of his watching family with his father shown by the TV cameras to be visibly emotional after Purdy's first TD pass.

Again, it wasn't all good news for Niner nation as Deebo Samuel suffered what appeared to be a high ankle sprain and could be out until the playoffs.

High-flying Eagles take over as NFL's top-scoring offense

The 49ers have been the NFL's best defensive unit for most of the season, but the unofficial title of the league's most potent offense transferred from the Kansas City Chiefs to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

Led by regular season MVP favourite Jalen Hurts, who is 4/6 to scoop that award, the Eagles scored 48 points in their beatdown of NFC East rivals the New York Giants.

Nick Sirianni's team have now scored at least 35 points in three straight games, which is Philly's longest such streak since 2002.

And with another rushing TD against the Giants - his 10th of the year - Hurts became the first QB in NFL history with 10 rushing TDs in back-to-back seasons.

Former Carolina Panthers star Cam Newton is the only other quarterback in NFL history with multiple seasons of 10 or more rushing touchdowns.

Stealthy Panthers creep back into contention

Talking of the Panthers, who are 33/10 to make the Playoffs, are they a legitimate postseason contender with control over their own fate heading into the last four games of the season?

The answer, remarkably, is yes, as the team that fired head coach Matt Rhule after getting off to a 1-4 start is now one win off top spot in the NFC South with two of their three division rivals still to play.

One problem Rhule could not solve was finding a reliable quarterback and another was that his team seemingly could not win games when their opponents scored 17 or more points.

On Sunday, Sam Darnold gave Carolina renewed hope that he could yet be the man while the Panthers refused to break when the Seattle Seahawks took to the air, recording a 30-24 win.

It was their first win when allowing 17 or more points since week 4 of the 2020 season, having gone 1-27 under Rhule's leadership in such games, including 25 losses in a row.

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Dark horses Detroit open up the playbook

Most NFL fans have had one eye on the Detroit Lions since they were the subject of HBO's 'Hard Knocks' series in preseason.

Head coach Dan Campbell and his team have come through their fair share of hard times to emerge as surprise playoff contenders with four games to go.

The Lions, 29/10 to make the postseason, defeated division rival Minnesota 34-23 at Ford Field on Sunday for their fifth win in six behind another stellar showing from much-maligned quarterback Jared Goff.

He took time to settle after arriving in the same trade that took Matthew Stafford to Los Angeles and almost immediate success with the Rams, but Goff now looks like he has forestalled all questions about his future in Motor City.

Goff threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns for a Lions offense that has now scored 31 points or more in four of its past five games.

They opened up the playbook too with some imaginative calls, such as a successful fake punt on fourth-and-8 from their own 26-yard line and a third-and-7 pass to offensive tackle Penei Sewell that effectively iced the game.

Detroit's victory, coupled with the New York Jets' 20-12 loss at the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, flipped the favouritism for the Week 15 clash at MetLife Stadium as the Lions went from three-point underdogs to being favoured by one point.

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