Scoring offense in the NFL was, like television ratings, down in 2017.
The average NFL team scored 21.7 points per game in the 2017 season. That was down a full point, from 22.7 points per game in 2016. And 2016 was already slightly down, from 22.8 points per team per game in 2015.
The league, however, says it’s not concerned that the game is getting less exciting.
“It’s certainly nothing that the league is concerned about,” NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said.
Perhaps the league should be concerned, though, when scoring is down, TV ratings are down, and there seems to be a general sense among fans that the quality of play is not where it used to be. Field goals were actually slightly up in 2017, as kickers are better than ever. But touchdowns are down.
The touchdown is, of course, the signature play in football. A game with more touchdowns is generally going to be a more exciting game. And in 2017, touchdowns were down. Passing touchdowns were down and rushing touchdowns were down.
Also down were two-point conversions. When the NFL moved extra points back before the 2015 season, it hoped to incentivize more teams to go for two, and in the first two years it worked: Two-point attempts were up in 2015 and up again in 2016. But in 2017, two-point attempts and conversion rates declined dramatically: Teams went 51-for-105 on two-point conversions in 2016, but went only 33-for-78 on two-point conversions in 2017.
So NFL teams are putting the ball in the end zone less than they used to. That might not concern the NFL, but it probably should.