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Russell Wilson wants one final field goal to resolve tie games

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 23:  Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks knels on the field following the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals and Seahawks tied 6-6.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Seahawks played to a tie with the Cardinals on Sunday night, and quarterback Russell Wilson wasn’t happy about it.

Wilson said after thinking about the 6-6 tie in Arizona that the league needs to come up with a tiebreaking rule. Wilson’s idea is an interesting one: A final field goal to either win or lose.

“Let’s say we’re the away team. We win the coin toss, we get the ball on the 35-yard line going in. You kick one field goal,” Wilson said. “You can’t do anything else but a field goal. You make the field goal, the game’s over. If you miss the field goal, the game’s over and the other team wins. I just think that if you play that long, you’re putting your lives on the line. You should find a way to win. I don’t like ending in a tie.”

Wilson’s idea is wacky and has no hope of being implemented. But as long as we’re talking about wacky ideas that have no hope of being implemented, let’s think about some alternatives.

How about, instead of one field goal, each kicker attempting five field goals, and the team whose kicker makes more of them wins? That would make the ending like penalty kicks in soccer. Or they could have the kickers start with a chip-shot 20-yard field goal and then move back five yards until someone misses. Whenever they reach a distance where one kicker makes it and the other kicker misses it, the kicker who makes it wins the game for his team.

Or if you want to get really fun, how about having five 35-yard field goals attempted by five different players? Every team could have its kicker try one of those field goals, but then it would have to choose four other players who can try a field goal. It would be fascinating to find out which non-kickers are good at kicking field goals when the game is on the line. Ndamukong Suh and Odell Beckham are among the players who have been floated as fill-in kickers when their teams’ primary kickers have been injured. How fun would it be to see Suh and Beckham trying field goals with the pressure on at the end of a tied Dolphins-Giants game?

Or maybe kicking shouldn’t be involved in the tiebreaking procedure at all. How about a “shootout” with a one-on-one pass coverage format? The offense could have its quarterback and best receiver on the field, the defense could have its best cornerback on the field, and the quarterback would have one chance to throw a touchdown pass to his receiver with the cornerback in coverage.

Or the NFL could turn the Oklahoma drill into the tiebreaking procedure: The home team goes on offense with one player on the field as a ball carrier. The road team goes on defense with one player on the field as a tackler. If the offensive player gets into the end zone, his team wins. If the defensive player makes the tackle, his team wins.

The possibilities are endless. An XFL-style scramble for the ball? Each team picks its fastest player to race in a 100-yard dash? Each quarterback throws the ball as far as he can? Maybe you’ve got a better idea. Or maybe we should just accept that some games will end in a tie.

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Jay Cutler on having John Fox’s confidence: “He doesn’t have a choice”

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 25: An injured Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears looks on from the sideline during a game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears at AT&T Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bears coach John Fox avoided promising quarterback Jay Cutler his job back while he was injured, so it makes sense that Cutler seems to realize his future in Chicago is something other than secure.

Cutler came back to practice Tuesday after missing five games with a right thumb injury, just in time to replace injured replacement Brian Hoyer, and was asked if he felt confident he had the support of his coach.

He doesn’t have a choice, I guess, at this point,” Cutler said, via Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune. “Brian is out, so I’ve got to go. I’ve had good conversations with Foxy this week, last week, the week before. There’s never been any strain in our relationship. We’re both very open and honest, and we’re on the same page. We just want to win football games.”

Asked about how he felt when Fox left the starting job open-ended while he was on the sideline and Hoyer was playing reasonably well, Cutler busted out one of Fox’s favorite cliches.

“It is what it is,” Cutler said. “Anytime you have a backup quarterback—and to Brian’s credit, he played well. I think as a team, we wish we would have won some more of those ball games. But Brian went in there and did a great job. My discussions with everybody that I have relationships with in here were positive, and whenever I was ready to go, I’d be ready to go.

“There was never any discussion regarding [whether I’d take back over] with me.”

It was a solid moment of #selfawareness from Cutler, who seems to get that he’s no longer the quarterback of the future there. He acknowledged as much, saying those would be conversations that happened at the end of the year, which is his eighth in Chicago.

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John Mara on Josh Brown: Our decisions were misguided

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 13:  John Mara, CEO of Giants attends the AEG Live announcement of Paul McCarthy's concert at Met Life Stadium on April 13, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Giants released kicker Josh Brown on Tuesday, several days after the NFL placed Brown on the Commissioner’s-Exempt list in the wake of the release of documents from police in Washington detailing Brown’s abuse of his then-wife and several months after the team re-signed Brown despite the kicker telling them that he had been abusive.

Giants owner John Mara said last week that the team was not aware of the “extent” of the abuse when they opted to bring Brown back to the roster. In a statement accompanying the announcement of Brown’s release, Mara called that decision “misguided.”

“We believed we did the right thing at every juncture in our relationship with Josh,” Mara said. “Our beliefs, our judgments and our decisions were misguided.  We accept that responsibility. We hope that Josh will continue to dedicate himself to rehabilitation, and to becoming a better person and father.  We will continue to support him in his efforts to continue counseling, and we hope that Josh and his family can find peace and a positive resolution.”

The team also included a statement from Brown that featured much of the language he used in a statement released through Adam Schefter of ESPN earlier in the day. One notable change is that Brown’s first statement included his belief that it was “important to share that I never struck my wife” and the one released through the Giants makes no such equivocation from a man who wrote that he “physically, verbally and emotionally abused my wife.”

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Giants cut kicker Josh Brown

FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2013, file photo, New York Giants kicker Josh Brown reacts after missing a field goal during the first half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. Brown admitted in journal entries and emails that he verbally and physically abused his wife, according to documents that were part of a domestic violence case obtained by SNY. Team spokesman Corry Rush declined comment Thursday morning, Oct. 20, 2016,  on the details that emerged from a case in Washington. Brown was arrested in May 2015 on a domestic violence allegation but no charges were filed against the 37-year-old player. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File) AP

The Giants made it clear they wanted as far away from Josh Brown as possible, when they left him home from their London game.

Today, they made it official.

The team announced that they were cutting the kicker, after admissions of abuse were released last week, casting them in an even worse light after they re-signed him this offseason knowing of the domestic violence allegations involving his then-wife.

Brown apologized to the Giants in a statement earlier today, but it obviously wasn’t enough for him to keep his job. He was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list, effectively paid leave, last week.

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Josh Brown: I have taken measures to get help

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 18:  Josh Brown #3 of the New York Giants celebrates kicking a field goal with teammate Brad Wing #9 in the third quarter against the New Orleans Saints during the second half at MetLife Stadium on September 18, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Giants kicker Josh Brown was placed on the Commissioner’s-Exempt list last week after the release of documents by the King County (WA) Sheriff’s Office.

Included among those documents were writings from Brown that had him admitting that he “physically, verbally and emotionally abused my wife” and viewed her as his slave. Many others weighed in on the matter over the last week, but Brown had remained silent until issuing a statement to Adam Schefter of ESPN on Tuesday.

“I am sorry that my past has called into question the character or integrity of The New York Giants, [Giants owner John] Mara or any of those who have supported me along the way. I have taken measures to get help so that I may be the voice of change, not a statistic. It is important to share that I never struck my wife, and never would. Abuse takes many forms, and is not a gray area. Through the past several years I have worked to identify and rectify my own behaviors. The road to rehabilitation is a journey and a constant modification of a way of life. My journey will continue forever as a person determined to leave a positive legacy and I embrace the opportunities to show and speak about what has helped me to be that man. In the interim, I am cooperating with the Giants and the NFL. Thank you to everyone that has supported me, I will not let you down.”

Schefter previously reported that Brown will not appeal the league’s decision to put him on the list, which bars him from playing while he continues to receive his full salary. Brown was suspended for one game to open the year and would have the right to appeal any further discipline the league tries to enact under the auspices of new information coming to light, although Mara’s admission that Brown admitted to the team that he abused his wife may make that difficult for the league.

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Browns’ depth chart lists Kevin Hogan as first-string quarterback

CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 23:  Kevin Hogan #8 of the Cleveland Browns gets tripped up while carrying the ball during the third quarter of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cleveland may be in store for yet another quarterback change.

The Browns’ official depth chart this week lists Kevin Hogan as the first-string quarterback. Joe Callahan, claimed on waivers yesterday, is listed as the second-string quarterback. Josh McCown, who is still recovering from a broken collarbone, is third, while Cody Kessler, who suffered a concussion on Sunday, is listed as fourth.

Hogan’s spot atop the depth chart doesn’t mean he’s going to start on Sunday against the Jets, but it does indicate that he’d be the starter if the Browns had to play today. If Hogan does start he’d be the Browns’ fourth different starting quarterback this season, following Robert Griffin III, McCown and Kessler.

After Kessler suffered his concussion on Sunday, Hogan came in and showed impressive rushing ability, catching the Bengals by surprise with his feet and carrying seven times for 104 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately, Hogan wasn’t as successful passing the ball: He completed just 12 of 24 passes for 100 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions.

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Week Eight Power Rankings

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 16:  A couple of fans holds up a Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots sign during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Gillette Stadium on October 16, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

1. Patriots (6-1; last week No. 2): They may be here for a while, especially if they can avenge their only loss of the season to date.

2. Cowboys (5-1; No. 4): A return to glory is entirely possible.

3. Vikings (5-1; No. 1): They weren’t going to win them all. On Sunday, they wouldn’t have won against anyone.

4. Seahawks (4-1-1; No. 3): There’s a sense that the wheels could come off at any point for this team. There’s also a sense they’ll eventually mash on the gas pedal. It remains to be seen which one happens first.

5. Packers (4-2; No. 7): As long as they play inferior opponents, the offense will look just fine.

6. Broncos (5-2; No. 9): “This one’s for Brock.”

7. Falcons (4-3; No. 5): The Second Annual Collapse has begun. How long will it last?

8. Steelers (4-3; No. 8): Linebacker Ryan Shazier says the team is “garbage” right now. Plenty of teams would love to smell that bad.

9. Chiefs (4-2; No. 12): This may be the one team no one wants to play in January.

10. Raiders (5-2; No. 13): Maybe they should start their home games at 10:00 a.m. PT, too.

11. Lions (4-3; No. 18): Maybe Matthew Stafford will start getting the credit he deserves.

12. Washington (4-3; No. 6): The closest this team will come to No. 1 happened on the sideline of Sunday’s game in Detroit.

13. Eagles (4-2; No. 15): Shrugging off a couple of losses and three first-quarter turnovers from  Carson Wentz, the Eagles have re-established themselves as an unlikely postseason contender.

14. Giants (4-3; No. 17): Based on his interception return for a touchdown against the Rams, maybe Landon Collins should play running back.

15. Bills (4-3; No. 10): The Bills last swept the Patriots in the same year the Bills last went to the playoffs. Ending one streak on Sunday would go a long way toward ending the other one.

16. Texans (4-3; No. 11): They could have won the division and made a quick exit from the playoffs by spending a lot less than $18 million per year on a quarterback.

17. Cardinals (3-3-1; No. 14): They get a chance to exorcise their lingering 2015 demons with a trip back to Charlotte. And if the Cardinals lose this one, it could be over.

18. Buccaneers (3-3; No. 20): The next two games will tell us plenty about whether this team is ready to contend.

19. Bengals (3-4; No. 21): They’ll fly a long way to try to extend the winning streak against former Bengals offensive coordinators to two.

20. Dolphins (3-4; No. 25): At a time when plenty of NFL players are the last ones to realize it’s over, Arian Foster deserves credit for being quick to admit it.

21. Chargers (3-4; No. 26): Could this be the best team in the division?

22. Colts (3-4; No. 28): Could this be the best team in the division?

23. Titans (3-4; No. 16): This could have been the best team in the division.

24. Ravens (3-4; No. 19): This could be a problem for John Harbaugh, eventually.

25. Rams (3-4; No. 22): This could be the formula for 7-9.

26. Saints (2-4; No. 23): This could be a little awkward when Jimmy Graham returns to New Orleans on Sunday.

27. Panthers (1-5; No. 27): This could be the first step in a slow climb out of the basement.

28. Jaguars (2-4; No. 24): If they don’t win in the Star Trek uniforms, Gus Bradley could be teleported to a new job.

29. Jets (2-5; No. 29): “How dare you react to the fact that I wasn’t good at my job.”

30. 49ers (1-6; No. 30): Those “traffic problems” in Santa Clara that made the stadium seem sparsely attended for a Thursday night game are here to stay.

31. Bears (1-6; No. 31): The Cubs are providing the Bears with the cover they need to keep stinking.

32. Browns (0-7; No. 32): The Indians are providing the Browns with the cover they need to keep stinking.

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Aqib Talib: Trevor Siemian is better and cheaper than Brock Osweiler

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 24:  Quarterback Brock Osweiler #17 of the Houston Texans embraces quarterback Trevor Siemian #13 of the Denver Broncos after the Broncos won 27-9 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 24, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) Getty Images

Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib praised General Manager John Elway on Monday night for making the right decision at quarterback.

Talib said after the broncos beat the Texans that it’s clear that Trevor Siemian is a better quarterback than Brock Osweiler, who left Denver for Houston this offseason. And Talib noted that the Texans gave Osweiler a four-year, $72 million contract, while Siemian is playing on a four-year, $2.3 million contract.

“If you look at it overall, [Elway] saved a bunch of money. And Trev is a great quarterback, man. He’s better than Brock in my eyes. So it’s a win-win situation,” Talib told USA Today.

Of course, Elway wasn’t exactly perfect on the quarterback front: He did offer Osweiler a contract this offseason, reportedly for four years and $64 million. And Elway also traded for Mark Sanchez with the expectation that Sanchez would beat out Siemian for the starting job. That didn’t work out, and Sanchez was released before the start of the regular season.

Still, it’s clear that the Broncos ultimately got it right at quarterback: Anyone would rather have Siemian for $600,000 a year than Osweiler for $18 million a year. Talib is probably right that Siemian is better than Osweiler, and he’s certainly right that Osweiler shouldn’t be making 30 times as much money as Siemian. The Texans are probably asking themselves right now why they were willing to pay Osweiler more than Elway, the G.M. who knew him best, was willing to pay.

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Jay Gruden faults prevent defense for Washington’s loss

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 23: Quarterback Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions looks for a receiver down field against the Washington Redskins during first half action at Ford Field on October 23, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

With 1:05 to play on Sunday, Washington took a 17-13 lead in Detroit. Then the Lions executed a six-play, 75-yard drive to score the game-winning touchdown. Washington coach Jay Gruden says the defensive play calling deserves some of the blame.

Gruden said he would have liked to see more pressure on Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, but instead Washington only rushed three and dropped eight into coverage.

“I think when you look back at the call you’d like to get more people around Matthew,” Gruden said, via Liz Clarke of the Washington Post. “He does a great job of buying time and then finding seams and holes in the zone. He almost threw a touchdown earlier, scrambling out to his right because we didn’t get a lot of pressure on him. But at that time we were playing against the clock obviously; we wanted to stop a check-down so we decided to drop eight.”

Two Washington defensive linemen, Ricky Jean Francois and Chris Baker, said after the game that they would have liked to see a better pass rush at the end of the game. Gruden said he understood where they were coming from.

“I think as a pass rusher, if you’re a defensive lineman, you don’t want to drop into coverage,” Gruden said. “I mean, I respect their problem with dropping into a hook instead of rushing the quarterback because they really get paid to rush the quarterback. They don’t get paid to backpedal.”

The final drive couldn’t have gone any worse for Washington’s defense. Gruden’s comments suggest that there will be some changes to their approach the next time they’re nursing a fourth quarter lead.

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Osweiler struggles, Broncos roll to Monday night win

Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler (17) escapes the reach of Denver Broncos defensive end Jared Crick during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Oct. 24, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

Quarterback Brock Osweiler left Denver last March to sign with the Texans. In his return Monday night, Osweiler never had much of a chance.

The Broncos’ defense dominated, Osweiler never hit enough passes to truly threaten and the Broncos powered their way to a 27-9 win. The Texans held an early 6-0 lead but only got inside the Broncos’ 25-yard line once all night, and that was in the third quarter.

The Broncos didn’t turn the ball over or give up a sack. They had touchdown drives of 72, 75 and 68 yards, respectively. C.J. Anderson ran for 107 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.

The Broncos won the coin toss and chose to defer, putting Osweiler on the field first. Of course they chose to defer.

It was the right move, too, as Osweiler struggled all night. Through three quarters, Osweiler averaged 2.8 yards per pass. He finished 22-of-41 for 131 yards.

Anderson ran for a score and Demaryius Thomas caught a touchdown pass in the first half. The Broncos went up 21-9 late in the third quarter on the first touchdown run of rookie Devontae Booker’s NFL career.

The Broncos move to 5-2 and host the Chargers next week. The Texans are 4-3 and host the Lions next week.

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Eagles, 49ers talking Torrey Smith trade

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 18:  Torrey Smith #82 of the San Francisco 49ers makes a touchdown catch against James Bradberry #24 of the Carolina Panthers during the game at Bank of America Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Eagles and 49ers are discussing a trade involving wide receiver Torrey Smith, multiple sources told PFT.

No deal is imminent, but the Eagles potentially acquiring Smith makes sense. He’s been disappointing while playing on bad offenses in two seasons with the 49ers, and the Eagles would love to bolster their receiving corps for a run at the NFC East title.

The trade deadline is next Tuesday, Nov. 1.

The 49ers are going nowhere fast, so the thought of getting something for Smith would likely be appealing. Smith has 13 catches this season after having 33 last year. He never had fewer than 49 catches in four seasons with the Ravens, and his ability to stretch defenses got him a five-year, $40 million contract from the 49ers in March 2015.

Smith is just 27, and depending on the 49ers’ asking price, the Eagles may not be the only team interested. Smith has 36 career touchdown catches, just six since joining the 49ers.

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Arian Foster calls it quits

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Arian Foster #29 of the Miami Dolphins carries the ball during the first half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

Dolphins running back Arian Foster announced his retirement Monday evening.

Foster released a statement via the Twitter account of Uninterrupted, an athlete website owned by NBA star LeBron James.

“There comes a time in every athlete’s career when their ambition and their body are no longer on the same page,” Foster wrote. “I’ve reached that point. It’s hard to write those words because this game has been everything to me.”

Foster, 30, went from undrafted free agent to the Texans’ practice squad to the franchise’s all-time leading rusher and four-time Pro Bowler. He led the NFL with 1,616 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns in 2010, his second season.

He was limited to four games last season by injuries, then signed with the Dolphins after being released by the Texans last March. He’s retiring after battling more injuries this season.

In his statement, Foster thanked the Dolphins and said he was proud to have been a part of the NFL for eight seasons.

“Life has other plans,” he wrote. “I could not be prouder of the things my teammates and I accomplished in this game.”

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Kaepernick doesn’t think anthem protests affect ratings

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 23:  Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers looks on from the sidelines during their NFL game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Levi's Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Commissioner Roger Goodell and 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick likely don’t agree on much. But here’s one thing on which they occupy the same page: They believe the 2016 drop in TV ratings has nothing to do with the ongoing national anthem protests.

“I don’t know much about ratings and how they are affected and all of those things,” Kaepernick said after Sunday’s loss to the Buccaneers, via Andy Furillo of the Sacramento Bee. “But I don’t understand why ratings would go down, fighting for justice for people, to try to stop oppression, especially in a league that is predominantly black.”

Goodell was blunt and concise last week when asked about the potential connection by reporters: “That it’s not a factor. It’s not having any significant impact on our ratings.”

On one hand, it’s strange to think that anyone would deprive themselves of something they enjoy because of the actions of a small handful of all players. On the other hand, how does the league know for sure that it’s not a factor? Many have said it is; they all can’t simply be exaggerating and embellishing the connection in order to push an anti-protest agenda that isn’t affecting ratings.

Absent meaningful and effective research by the league aimed at identifying all reasons for the reduction in TV ratings, there’s no way to rule out the anthem protests. But the league surely has no interest in legitimizing the connection between the ongoing anthem protests and the declining ratings, because the league has no power to stop the protests.

Moreover, acknowledging that an exercise of player rights could impact TV ratings would be an admission that the players have much more power than they ever dreamed they’d possess.

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One day later, Mike Zimmer is still salty and vowing to “change things up”

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 23: Head coach Mike Zimmer of the Minnesota Vikings looks down as he walks the sidelines during the third quarter of a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on October 23, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Vikings 21-10. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) Getty Images

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer wasn’t happy with his team’s performance after Sunday’s loss at Philadelphia. A day later, he’s still upset.

“We’re trying to figure out everything right now,” Zimmer said Monday, via Chris Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “This is a gut check day. . . . We’re going to change some things up this week.”

After a showing that prompted Zimmer to call his offensive line “soft,” he offered up this biting critique that should force every player to engage in soul searching: “I have faith in this football team. But faith is belief without proof, and I have no proof yet.”

The defense has given Zimmer plenty of proof, but defense alone isn’t enough. As to the offense, Zimmer was careful to broaden his disdain beyond the tackles, guards, and center.

“Everyone said how I said it was the offensive line not doing good,” Zimmer said. “The offense in general wasn’t very good.”

The good news is that, one week from tonight, the Vikings face the not-very-good Bears. But if Minnesota stubs its toe against their 1-6 rivals from Chicago, Zimmer’s flavor of choice will continue to be salty.

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Ratings still shrinking

115872288 Getty Images

After seven weeks, the NFL has a problem. Whether the league wants it acknowledge it publicly or privately or will try to minimize it with damage-control doublespeak (“we don’t have fewer viewers, the same viewers are viewing less“), the NFL has a problem.

Ratings are down, every week in nearly every broadcasting window.

For Week Seven, the 9.4 overnight rating for the Bears-Packers game reflected an 18.2-percent drop from the Week Seven TNF game in 2015, a 20-3 win by the Seahawks over the 49ers. The Sunday night game between the Seahawks and Cardinals dropped by 15 percent from last year’s Eagles-Panthers game, with an 11.6 rating.

The Sunday late-afternoon window, which has for the most part been performing better than prime-time games, also was down sharply, with a 13.2-percent drop in the Patriots-Steelers game on CBS in 2016 and the Week Seven 2015 game between the Cowboys and Giants.

Plenty of potential reasons have been identified for the decline, but perhaps the simplest is that too many games (especially in prime time) lack real excitement, in part because they lack scoring. When the Seahawks and Cardinals are engaged in a punt-fest deadlocked (emphasis on the dead) 3-0 at halftime, who wouldn’t give in to the strong temptation to change the channel and/or go do something else for an hour or so, or long? It quickly became clear on Sunday night that it made sense to check out until 11:15 p.m. ET, or to check out for good.

No one cares about a game that has six total points scored through 60 minutes of action. Four decades ago, the NFL realized that 38-35 was much more exciting than 13-9, which prompted the league to make a series of rules changes aimed at infusing more offense into the game. Which led to more score and more excitement and eventually fueled the rise of fantasy football.

The challenge for the league, beyond cultivating more stars (by, you know, embracing their individuality and not suppressing it), developing more talent (especially at quarterback), and picking better games for prime-time programming, becomes finding a way to make football exciting again. Currently, not nearly enough people think it is.

And before anyone at 345 Park Avenue starts percolating possibilities for tweaking the rules in order to light up scoreboards, here’s hoping that all potential unintended consequences will be fully considered. Because if the NFL’s notion for pumping nitrous oxide into offenses has the same impact as that bright idea for reducing kickoff returns, there will be more snore-inducing defensive struggles in the future.

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