Through two weeks, NFL teams are struggling to find the end zone

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NFL TV ratings are down, and NFL touchdowns are down, and those two things are probably related.

Fans like to watch teams score touchdowns, and there just haven’t been enough of them so far this season. NFL teams are averaging 2.1 touchdowns per game so far this season, compared to 2.6 touchdowns per game in the 2016 season.

Field goals are actually slightly up this season, from 1.7 per game last year to 1.8 per game this year, but overall scoring is down, from 22.8 points per game to 20.1 points per game.

Two teams, the Bengals and 49ers, have failed to score a touchdown at all. The Colts don’t have a passing touchdown yet this season, and a whopping 11 teams — one-third of the league — hasn’t scored a rushing touchdown yet.

NFL rules changes have generally favored the offense, as the league believes scoring generates more fan interest. If offenses don’t turn things around this season, expect even more rules changes favoring the offense next offseason.

In-game migraine was one of DeShone Kizer’s “biggest fears”


Browns rookie DeShone Kizer missed a portion of Sunday’s loss to the Ravens while being treated for a migraine headache that came on during the first quarter of the game.

Kizer said he started noticing visual issues a few plays before forgetting to put a man in motion on a play that ended with an interception. Coach Hue Jackson knew something was wrong when Kizer returned to the sideline and the quarterback told Jackson his head was pounding.

Kizer was taken for a concussion evaluation before being given medication for the migraine. Kizer has dealt with the condition for a long time and said that getting one during a game has always been on his mind.

“That’s one of my biggest fears being a guy who does get chronic migraines,” Kizer said, via “It was bound to happen sometime for me, and I’d rather they’re in the season where I can learn from them and create a better plan.”

Kizer was able to return to action and threw two more interceptions in the second half, although neither he nor Jackson thinks the migraine was the reason for those miscues. Kizer also said the migraines typically come a couple of times a year, so they’ll be hoping the next one falls sometime other than a football Sunday.

Martellus Bennett having a “fundamental” problem with drops


At a time when the Packers are looking for reliable receiving targets, one of the ones they thought they could count on has been less than reliable.

Veteran tight end Martellus Bennett is off to a slow start to his Packers career, and they could use him since it seems all their receivers are hurt at once.

But Sunday night against the Falcons, he didn’t offer much help, with four dropped passes among an unspectacular stat line (five receptions for 47 yards, on 11 targets). He also was guilty of an offensive pass interference, which wiped out a 36-yard pass to Randall Cobb.

I just go back to the fundamentals of it. It’s as simple as that, to be honest with you,” offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said, via Michael Cohen of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “It really just always goes back to being fundamentally sound, trusting his training. He has really good hands. We just have to be fundamentally sound in those situations, not allowing the ball to cross your eyes, things like that, extending for the football.

“He’s obviously a special player, but in that case it was more fundamentals than anything else.”

The Packers need Bennett to be more reliable, since they have other pressing issues on offense. They started last week’s game without both starting tackles, and wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Cobb each left with injuries before the night was over.

Falcons talk to Dwight Freeney, but no plans to bring him back right now

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A report on Monday indicated Falcons pass rusher Vic Beasley will miss about a month after hurting his hamstring in Sunday night’s win over the Packers, but coach Dan Quinn didn’t go that far while discussing Beasley’s condition.

Quinn confirmed that Beasley won’t play against the Lions this week and that was enough to lead to questions about whether the Falcons would look for outside help. Among those questions was whether the team is still in touch with Dwight Freeney, who had three sacks during the 2016 regular season and has not signed with anyone for this season.

“Yes,” Quinn said, via the team’s website. “[He’s] definitely somebody that we still talk to on a regular basis. We’re hopeful that he’s going to play this year, he certainly wants to. Right now, there are no changes on our end as we head into today.”

Freeney’s experience in the defense would make him an obvious choice if the Falcons decide they need more pressure off the edge than the players on hand can provide. For now, though, they’re sticking with what’s on hand.

Chargers still riding with Younghoe Koo


The Chargers’ first two games have ended in similar fashion.

An attempt to tie the Broncos in the opener fizzled when Younghoe Koo had a 44-yard field goal try blocked and an attempt to beat the Dolphins Sunday went up in smoke when Koo missed from 44 yards. It was the second miss of the day for Koo and both loomed large in a 19-17 loss.

The bad day won’t lead to a change at kicker, though. Coach Anthony Lynn said Monday that the team will not be looking at other options this week.

“He’s very confident and I have to give him the benefit of the doubt, after being around him the whole offseason and watching how he competed and how he took that job,” Lynn said, via the Los Angeles Daily News. “He went out and had a bad day yesterday, but we’re still riding with him. And we’re hoping that he’ll bounce back.”

Koo, who beat out Josh Lambo in a competition this summer, missed three field goals over his final two seasons at Georgia Southern and the Chargers will be hoping that he doesn’t add to the three he’s already missed in the NFL.

Lamarr Houston working out for Saints

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In their never-ending quest to fix one of the league’s worst defenses, the Saints are taking a look at a veteran pass-rusher today.

According to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, the Saints are working out linebacker Lamarr Houston.

Houston was released with an injury settlement by the Bears this summer, and was expected to be close to a return for some team that wanted him. The Saints could certainly use the help, and the 30-year-old Houston is worth a look.

He has some familiarity with Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen from their days together with the Raiders.

The Saints are last in the league in total defense, giving up 512.5 yards per game. For context, the Jets are 30th and have allowed just (!?!) 409.0 yards per game.

The Saints have also allowed 32.5 points per game (31st in the league, thanks Jets at 33.0) and have just two sacks in two games.

Tuesday morning one-liners

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The Bills lost in Week Two, but they can build off their defensive effort.

A call for the Dolphins to come to a quick resolution regarding LB Lawrence Timmons.

WR Phillip Dorsett hopes he feels well enough to return to the Patriots lineup this week.

When is it time to seriously contemplate a winless season for the Jets?

The Ravens are coming up with plans for life without G Marshal Yanda.

Said Bengals QB Andy Dalton of criticism, “I don’t read anything. There’s no reason to read anything because it doesn’t mean anything,. People can come up with a headline all they want, but all that matters is what’s being said in this organization, on this team, and what happens in this locker room.”

Browns rookie S Jabrill Peppers is waiting for an opportunity to make a big play.

WR JuJu Smith-Schuster helped the Steelers as a receiver and a blocker in Sunday’s win.

The Texans are looking for more help at tight end.

Colts WR Donte Moncrief‘s efforts are found lacking.

The Jaguars haven’t done a good job of covering punts in the first two weeks.

A late hit led to Titans TE Delanie Walker omitting a dance after Sunday’s touchdown.

The Broncos are going on the road for the first time this season.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid was happy with LB Justin Houston‘s work on Sunday.

The Raiders offensive line has started well this season.

The Chargers can’t shake their habit of losing in close games.

Cornerback injuries will be something the Cowboys are watching this week.

Seven ideas about improving the Giants offense.

Diagnosing the Eagles’ issues running the ball.

RB Chris Thompson’s versatility has been a boost for the Redskins.

It’s been a slow start for Bears RB Jordan Howard.

The Lions might not have impressed, but they won on Monday.

Rookie CB Kevin King may be playing more for the Packers.

The Vikings hope for a quick return for QB Sam Bradford.

Falcons QB Matt Ryan said WR Mohamed Sanu is fearless.

The Panthers will have to improve their offense without TE Greg Olsen‘s help.

The Saints haven’t seen a return on their running back investments.

Playing with high tempo agrees with the Buccaneers offense.

The Cardinals want more from their offense.

Stopping the run was a problem for the Rams in Week Two.

Said 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, “We’d love to run the ball more. We’ve got to do a better job all around to be able to get that done.”

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll suggested changes are coming for the offense.

AJ McCarron: Andy Dalton is Bengals QB, “ride with him”

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With one shoe already falling in Cincinnati, the backup shoe is trying to stop the avalanche of criticism.

Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron rode to the defense of starter Andy Dalton, and said there’s no sense in the constant chatter about a change at the position.

The Bengals have already fired their offensive coordinator after two games and no touchdowns, and talk about Dalton’s uncertain future is only increasing.

“I wish people would in this city would back him and go with it,” McCarron said, via Paul Dehner of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Listen, I think I’m a great quarterback and I think he’s an unbelievable quarterback. I love him to death. But he’s our quarterback. Stop making it into something else. It’s not into something else. Ride with him. Trust the team. Trust the process. And trust what we are trying to do. And be a fan of who is playing. We are all part of a team.”

Of course, McCarron isn’t going to openly lobby for the job, but Dalton’s shown nothing beyond inertia to justify his keeping it so far this season. He’s been starting there since 2011, and while he’s had some rough spots, nothing like this current start to make people forget the five playoff appearances in six seasons. For his part, coach Marvin Lewis has said Dalton’s the starter, period. He’s done the same thing in the past with other quarterbacks, and isn’t one to feed panics.

And because McCarron looks up to Dalton, the defense was earnest.

“He’s our quarterback,” McCarron said. “I wish people would – it sucks to see for me personally with my relationship with him people booing him. It’s like, do you think he wants to have tipped balls that turn into interceptions? Has he worked his whole life for that? His whole week for that? No. He’s a normal human. . . .

“Me and him have a great relationship and I think we’ve both handled it really well. We know what nonsense is. He’s our quarterback and I’ll leave it at that. I trust him every time he steps out there and I think we are going to win every time he is under center.”

If it doesn’t start soon, McCarron’s going to have to answer a lot more questions, and no amount of a Terrell Owens “that’s my quarterback” act is going to quiet the voices.

Which 0-2 team will make the playoffs?

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Week Two officially is over, and more than 25 percent of the NFL has fallen to an 0-2 start. Since, on average, one of every eight 0-2 teams makes it to the playoffs, one of these sad sacks will scratch and claw its was to an inevitable wild-card or divisional road loss.

So who will it be? That’s the Tuesday PFT Live question of the day.

The choices are the Jets, Browns, Bengals, Colts, Chargers, Giants, Bears, Saints, and 49ers.

Pick one (or more), defend your selection in the comments, and then tune in to the show at 7:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN (or right now on NBC Sports Radio) to hear the discussion of the potential fate of the teams that have commenced the season winless.

49ers won’t have Eric Reid Thursday

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The 49ers had safety Eric Reid listed as a non-participant on their injury report from an imaginary practice on Monday and Reid will remain out when they play an actual game on Thursday.

Reid hurt his knee during Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks and coach Kyle Shanahan said on Monday that Reid will not recover in time to play the Rams. That likely won’t be the only game that Reid misses as a result of a PCL sprain.

“He definitely won’t play this week,” Shanahan said, via “I guess the good news is he is not going to need surgery so it will heal on its own, but he’s definitely not going to play this week and it’s probably going to be a little bit longer than that also.”

The 49ers may be down two starting safeties come Thursday. Jaquiski Tartt would have missed practice as well due to a neck injury and Shanahan deemed him questionable to play this week. Jimmie Ward, Lorenzo Jerome and Adrian Colbert — Jerome and Colbert are rookies — are the other safeties on hand.

Browns favored for first time since 2015

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Breaking news: The Cleveland Browns are actually favored to win a game.

The Browns opened as a 2.5-point favorite over the Colts on Sunday at Indianapolis. That marks the first time the Browns have been favored since Week 14 of 2015, when they were two-point favorites over the 49ers. The Browns haven’t been road favorites since Week Seven of 2014 at Jacksonville.

Although the Browns’ status as favorites might mean the gambling community is starting to give Cleveland more respect, it probably says more about the Colts. Andrew Luck has already been ruled out for Sunday, and Indianapolis is 0-2. The Colts might be the worst team in the NFL.

Most of the early money has come in on the Colts, and so the line has now moved to having the Browns as one-point favorites. It’s possible that by kickoff, the Browns won’t be favored anymore. So enjoy it while you can, Cleveland.

Justin Pugh: Bash all of us, not just Ereck Flowers

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The Giants’ decision to stand pat on the offensive line this offseason was questioned by many outside observers and the reason why was on display against the Lions on Monday night.

Pass rushers flowed through the Giants line without much resistance, leading to five sacks and a dysfunctional offense that has given the team little chance to win either of its first two games. Three of those sacks came from Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah, who battered left tackle Ereck Flowers all night.

Flowers has long been a focal point for criticism of the Giants offensive line and things will only get worse after Monday night even with one of his teammates stepping up in an attempt to deflect some of the blame. Justin Pugh didn’t try to do the impossible and say Flowers played well, but he did say that he wasn’t the only one to play poorly and shouldn’t bear the entire loss on his back.

“In the NFL, it’s tough to play tackle. I can tell you that firsthand,” Pugh said, via Newsday. “Playing tackle in the NFL is very, very hard. Everyone wants to come and take shots at Ereck, and that’s trying to kick somebody when they’re down. He knows he didn’t do what he was supposed to do tonight. He’s 23 years old going out there and trying to do everything he can. …It hurts me to see one of my teammates and someone I, like, try to help out, to see him get beat up like that. I didn’t play great. Go put my film on. It’s five guys. We can help him out. We can do a better job. We can run the ball better. When it comes to offensive line plays, it’s all five of us, it’s not one person. So if you are going to come and bash us, don’t bash one guy.”

Pugh’s not wrong about everyone deserving blame, but left tackles stand out on offensive lines the same way quarterbacks stand out on offenses. Flowers’ fitness for the left tackle spot has been debated since the Giants picked him in the first round of the 2015 draft and, 23 or not, the evidence that he’s not fit for the job has become impossible to ignore for anyone who isn’t Giants General Manager Jerry Reese.

That’s left Flowers as the only choice to fill the role on the roster and the Giants suffered for it against the Lions.

Ziggy Ansah has already passed last year’s sack total

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Not every star coming off an injury had a quiet night in a losing effort.

For Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah, his three-sack performance against the Giants was a reminder of the kind of pass-rusher he’s been, and the way he can impact a game.

“The sack looks better than the hurry,” Ansah said, via Tim Twentyman of the team’s official website. “That is what I’m paid to do, put the quarterback down with the ball in his hands. I’m just grateful I was able to get a few today. It feels great.”

Ansah was hobbled by an ankle injury last year, and managed just two sacks. So even though he’s coming off a knee issue which limited him in the preseason, he certainly looked closer to the player who racked up 14.5 sacks in 2015.

That’s good news for the Lions, who need to win a few games like last night when Matthew Stafford and their offense aren’t putting up huge numbers. But it also sets the stage for a huge number for Ansah, as he’s entering the final year of his contract, and seems to be a candidate for the franchise tag since the Lions were able to extend Stafford recently.

Odell Beckham’s back, but not all the way back


Odell Beckham showed last night the difference between being on the field and being back.

The Giants wide receiver did play, but he wasn’t himself in his team’s 24-10 loss to the Lions.

I felt like a little bit of myself, just still not there,” Beckham said, via Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. “Came out and do what I can.”

It wan’t much. He didn’t play every snap, and finished with just four catches for 36 yards. He was clearly still limited by the ankle sprain suffered four weeks ago in the preseason, and not showing his usual explosiveness.

“Mentally, I feel like I can do anything,” Beckham said. “So physically, I don’t know how much it really matters. I got my 20-30 plays, or whatever it was, and just try to make the most of them. . . .

“Yeah, I mean you have time. I didn’t have any setbacks today, so I’ll be able to be proactive and stay on it and get as close to 100 percent as you can. That’s pretty much all you can do. And with that being said, that’s what I’m going to do.”

They knew he wasn’t going to be fully available for the game, since he wasn’t fully available to practice last week, as the team tried to manage his activity through the week.

“We wanted to be smart with him in his first game back,” Giants coach Ben McAdoo said. “He hasn’t played football in a while.”

And he still hasn’t looked like himself, which isn’t nearly the only reason the Giants offense looks like it is stuck in the preseason as well.

Ben McAdoo on delay of game penalty: “Sloppy quarterback play”

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Facing a fourth-and-goal at the Lions’ 2-yard line in the third quarter, Giants head coach Ben McAdoo made a decision to go for a touchdown instead of settling for a 20-yard field goal try.

The plan went awry when the Giants took a delay of game penalty as quarterback Eli Manning was unable to get the snap off before the play clock reached zero. New York then head to settle for a 25-yard field goal from Aldrick Rosas to close the Lions lead to 17-10 instead of potentially closing the gap to 17-14.

McAdoo said after the game that a veteran quarterback like Manning shouldn’t make that type of error in such a crucial situation.

“Sloppy quarterback play,” McAdoo said. “Quarterback and center need to be on the same page there. We’ve got to get the ball snapped.

Why didn’t you call a timeout?

“Because we have a veteran quarterback whose played a lot of football. I expect us to get the ball snapped.”

It’s a pretty scathing criticism of Manning, especially when the Giants lost the game for far more reasons than a delay of game penalty. Nevertheless, it’s an error the Giants can’t afford to make when the offense isn’t giving themselves many opportunities to score.