This week on Tar Takes we discuss the North Carolina Tar Heels’ football win over the Pittsburgh Panthers on Saturday, if they have any shot to upset the Miami Hurricanes on Thursday and if Carolina basketball should be a top 10 team in the country.
In the NFL, we discuss the state of the Oakland Raiders and Atlanta Falcons.
And we look at the Jimmy Butler trade request from the Minnesota Timerbwolves and tell you if that was the right decision for Butler.
That afternoon and night, more of the same continued with the Cincinnati Bengals almost winning, the Tennessee Titans beating the Legion of Boom, and the Oakland Raiders getting manhandled by the Washington Redskins.
With the wild weekend in the rearview mirror, here are the main takeaways from Sunday’s action.
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Seattle’s O-Line too much to overcome
The Seattle Seahawks began the season with a 1-1 start and needed to grab a win. As such, the Legion of Boom would have been expected to come out fierce and will the Seahawks to a tough victory.
Instead, quarterback Russell Wilson was left to carry the team on his own as the running game was nonexistent and the defense gave up 33 points to the Titans, an offense that mustered just 16 in Week 1 against the Raiders.
Seattle possesses an elite quarterback entering his prime but doesn’t have an offensive line to protect him, along with zero weapons on offense, and an aging defense whose window is closing.
The addition of defensive end Sheldon Richardson should have reignited the defense, however, the front seven aside from linebacker Bobby Wagner has been subpar, shown by the Titans’ 195 yards on the ground.
The Seahawks need to overhaul their offense and build an offensive line around Wilson. Until they do, Seattle will be wasting Wilson’s best years and be out of Super Bowl contention.
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The Chiefs are doing the hunting
Some thought the Kansas City Chiefs’ time was running out. It seemed like quarterback Alex Smith was on his way out since they drafted quarterback Patrick Mahomes and that 2017 could be a slight down year.
Instead, Smith is having one of the best seasons of his career, throwing seven touchdowns without an interception through the first three weeks.
Coach Andy Reid is also showing us why he is a future first-ballot Hall of Fame head coach after victories over the Patriots, Chargers and Eagles, three teams many thought would make a playoff push before the season started.
The Chiefs also have an unstoppable weapon out of the backfield in running back Kareem Hunt, which could create a dangerous duo for the next half-decade of him and Smith. Hunt, in just three games, has 538 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns.
Wide receiver Tyreek Hill has continued improving after his impressive 2016 rookie campaign tallying 277 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns already.
Kansas City has it all. An elite head coach, good quarterback, stout defense and a plethora of offensive weapons. They might be the best and most complete team in the NFL.
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Cam isn’t Super Cam
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton’s start to the 2017 NFL regular season has not been pretty. The one-time MVP has thrown for 566 yards with just two touchdowns to four interceptions. Not great numbers for a franchise quarterback.
Losing top target and tight end Greg Olsen along with wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin often being injured, Newton does not have much room for error. He has never been the most accurate quarterback, shown by his career completion percentage of 58.5%, and will be without elite pass catchers who can help catch a few errantly thrown balls here and there.
As such, it doesn’t look like it will get much better for the Panthers and Newton. They will need to go back to using a strong power running game, playing tough defense, and using Newton’s big arm to stretch the field when the opportunity presents itself.
Newton is a good quarterback, who can make incredible plays, but he isn’t good enough to win his team games each and every Sunday.
The next three games will be telling for Newton as they have New England (away), Detroit (away) and Philadelphia coming up.
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Brady back to being the GOAT
Midway through Week 3, the Patriots were staring a 1-2 start in the face. Was it the beginning of the end for New England if they lost to the Houston Texans and Chiefs at home?
No, it was quite the opposite. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady led an amazing eight play, 75-yard drive to take the lead with just 23 seconds left in the game.
The drive might have been lucky as there were a dropped interception and a fumble recovery, yet Brady still drove down the field in incredible fashion, throwing strikes while getting blasted.
The defense might be a little weaker in 2017, but Brady, despite the Week 1 outlier, is as good as ever at 40-years of age.
Remember, Brady didn’t have tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Brandin Cooks in 2016. Consequently, the former Wolverine will only look better as the season progresses.
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Falcons are Super Bowl Contenders
Admittedly, I was a major skeptic of the Atlanta Falcons coming into this season. They had an incredible 2016 season with an improving defense and one of the best offenses in NFL history.
However, I expected that the loss of coach Kyle Shanahan would hurt quarterback Matt Ryan’s performance. They would still be very good, but not historic. Moreover, I thought Ryan’s year was an arbitration.
So far in 2017, Ryan has thrown for just under 900 yards and has led this team to an impressive 29 points per game. The offensive numbers are not as astounding as last season, but their defense has improved, surrendering just 22 points per game so far, making them as good if not better than last season.
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The AFC North is not good
The AFC North has two winless teams in the Bengals and Cleveland Browns. The two teams with winning records, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, couldn’t look worse.
Baltimore lost to a Blake Bortles led Jacksonville Jaguars team by 37 points. Quarterback Joe Flacco and this offense are nowhere near playoff caliber.
After playing three poor teams, who have a combined two wins, the Ravens have mustered just 17 points per game. In addition, Flacco is only averaging 122 yards per game through the air.
The big Flacco payday is finally catching up with the team in a debilitating fashion.
Despite having a winning record, the Steelers have looked quite bad to this point on the road. Their home victory against the Minnesota Vikings was nice, but then again quarterback Sam Bradford didn’t play.
On the road, Pittsburgh has lost to the Chicago Bears, a flat-out bad team, and played the winless Browns close.
The Steelers are still a good team and will easily win the division, but need to fix their woes on the road and get running back LeVeon Bell and the running game in gear if they want to seriously contend for a Lombardi Trophy in February.