Written by Jason Feiner
Legends are made with their play on the field. The game altering moments, wins, and records separate the good from the great and the great from the elite, but records don’t last forever; they are meant to be broken. It wasn’t long ago that spectators and analysts alike believed Brett Favre’s career passing yardage and touchdown records to be untouchable, yet Peyton Manning passed both milestones in back-to-back seasons to end his historic career.
Fans celebrate moments throughout history and enshrine players in glory throughout their careers; records add to legacies and place them further ahead of their competitors. Some may seem unbreakable, but nothing is out of reach.
What records could crumble during the 2018 season?
Peyton Manning, Career passing yards: 71,940
Let’s look at the numbers. Since 2001, Drew Brees has yet to throw for under 2,000 yards in any given season with an average of 4,841 coming in a Saints jersey. Standing at 70,445 career yards, Drew Brees is virtually certain to break Peyton Manning’s record by mid October.
The New Orleans signal caller won’t be able to escape the spotlight as he approaches the NFL’s career passing yardage record. The Saints week five contest comes under the lights of Monday night. Brees needs 1,496 yards to break the record. The future Hall of Fame quarterback will need to average 299.2 yards per game to accomplish this feat during prime time football. Such a yards per game average is more than possible.
Over his first 12 years in New Orleans, Brees averaged 302.5 yards per game, but after the emergence of the ground game that total took a hit, decreasing by 31.7 yards, with his average dipping to 270.8 in 2017. I would place my wager on the Saints week 6 game at Baltimore, but it certainly would be a welcomed site to surpass the record at home in the Superdome. It will be a mathematical dilemma heading into week five, as Brees tries to dive deeper into history securing yet another record to add to his resume.
Tom Brady isn’t far off the mark, but he will need to play another year to surpass Manning in the record books. Sitting in fourth place with 66,159 career yards, Brady would need to produce historic numbers to break the record in 2018. Peyton Manning holds the record for most passing yards in a single season with 5,477 yards, and Brady would need to gain an additional 304 yards totaling 5,781 yards this coming season just to tie Manning’s career stat. It’s a number every fan can confidently say will not be reached in 2018. Brady looks primed to enter the second slot by October of New England’s 2019 campaign.
Calvin Johnson, Single Season Receiving Yards: 1,964
Calvin Johnson was an absolute superstar on a less than impressive Detroit Lions team. In 2012, Megatron captured the single season receiving yardage record, eclipsing the 1,848 yards previously held by Jerry Rice by 118 yards.
Since his early retirement (possibly due to the Lions lack of success), two players have taken his spot on top of the receiver hierarchy, Antonio Brown and Julio Jones. AB has been the most consistent player in the league over the past five seasons, eclipsing the 100 receptions mark in each of those campaigns (a record of his own), but Julio is the more physically gifted player between the two.
In 2015, both Brown and Jones eclipsed 136 receptions and 1,800 yards. During the 2015 season, Julio passed Jerry Rice’s spot and rose to second on the list, while AB fell 14 yards shy. Although Antonio Brown is the best receiver in the league today, Julio Jones has the better chance to surpass Megatron’s single season record.
If Julio were to account for 123 receptions at an average of 16 yards per reception, his total yards would equal 1,968, four more than the record as it stands today. Although these numbers look daunting, Julio was on the end of 136 receptions just three years ago, and has yet to fall under 16.4 YPR since that same season. This stat line could become a reality, as both superstars attempt to become the first wideout to eclipse 2000 yards through the air.
By no means will this feat be easy for either player, but Johnson’s record resembles that of a fish on a line. It is by no means safe, but could wiggle free at any moment.
Michael Strahan, Single Season Sack Total: 22.5
Not to take anything away from the first ballot Hall of fame defensive end, but anyone with eyes can see that the play above was a gimme. Brett Favre fell to the ground before Strahan got a hand on him. It was almost like he asked Favre for a quarter and the Packers signal caller happily obliged.
There is only one player in the league that truly has a chance to threaten the single season sack record in 2018: a healthy JJ Watt. The league has not been the same without the dominating presence of Watt on Sundays. If Watt returns to form he will resume his reign as the premier pass rusher in the NFL.
The past two campaigns, marred with season ending injuries, has put a halt on Watt’s search for the sack record. Now healthy, and still only 29 years old, he has plenty of fuel left in the tank. Totaling 20.5 sacks twice in his career, he has the ability and drive to do it again in 2018. The three time Defensive Player of the Year looks for his fourth award and 23 sacks. Don’t blink, as you could miss a legitimate and historic sack in week 17. It is certainly time for this record to be changed in the history books.
Eric Dickerson, Single Season Rushing Record: 2,105
There are three players in 2018 that could challenge Dickerson for the coveted rushing record, but in all likelihood, none of them will breach the elusive 2,000-yard mark. Only seven players throughout the leagues history have entered the exclusive club, and that number doesn’t seem likely to change in 2018.
Le’Veon Bell, Todd Gurley, and Ezekiel Elliott all have the talent to break the rushing record that has stood since 1984, and when combined with the workload each back should receive, it is entirely plausible Dickerson’s historic stat comes crashing to the ground. A total of 351 attempts and six yards per carry would have to be the stat line in order to reach 2,106 yards, only a single yard more than the rushing record.
Although in my eyes, Ezekiel Elliott is the last player on the list when compared to Gurley and Bell, he has the best chance to break Dickerson’s record. With both Dez Bryant and Jason Witten out of the equation, Zeke looks primed to eclipse 350 attempts on the season with a chance to hit upwards of 375 with change. In 2017, Zeke was on pace to account for 387 carries before enduring a six game suspension. If given a similar workload in 2018, Zeke would need to average 5.5 yards per attempt in order to surpass Dickerson and enter his name in the record books. Although he has yet to average more than 5.1 yards per carry in his short two-year career, Zeke has the talent to rise above his previous milestones.
Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell are the best dual threats in the league, but their respective workloads don’t warrant enough for me to place my bets on them. Most likely to reach 370 touches only when including receptions, 2000 rushing yards seems to be out of their price range. Hopefully they prove me wrong.
Morten Andersen, Career Point Total: 2,544
Anderson is one of only two kickers inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but he certainly won’t be the last. Morten Anderson appeared in a total of 382 games obtaining numerous records throughout his historic career. However, one record is certain to fall in 2018 to the likes of NFL great, Adam Vinatieri. Entering his 23rd season in the NFL, Vinatieri (aged 45) will attempt to break Mortensen’s career point total of 2,544. The all-time clutch kicker and four-time Super Bowl champion has averaged an impressive 111 points per season. Needing only 58 points to eclipse the record, Vinatieri should have no problem surpassing Mortensen by week 10 following the Colts’ week 9 bye. Barring an injury to the future Hall of Fame place kicker, this record is as good as gone.
Charles Haley, Super Bowl Victories: 5
The most Super Bowl victories by a player is shared between two iconic athletes, Charles Hayley and Tom Brady. Although Brady has been to more Super Bowls than any other player in the history of the game (8), he shares the same number of wins as the Hall of Fame defensive end who played for both the 1980’s San Francisco 49ers and the 1990's Dallas Cowboys (two separate dynasties). Brady had a chance to take full control over this record in 2017, but fumbled it away, as Brandon Graham bulldozed through Shaq Mason en route to New England’s first turnover of the game with just 2:16 seconds left on the clock. It was a crushing and demoralizing turn of events.
As long as Brady and Belichick are kicking around a football field, they will be perennial favorites in the AFC to reach the Super Bowl again. 2019 could be the year Brady captures a sixth ring, the first on his non-dominant hand. With no indication or sign of decline, New England and Tom Brady will certainly be playing in January and potentially longer. Can Brady take full possession of Super Bowl Victories in a player career? Time will soon tell.
Records that won’t be broken any time soon:
Jerry Rice, Career Receiving Yards: 22,895
Jerry Rice, Career Receiving Touchdowns: 197
Randy Moss, Single Season Receiving Touchdowns: 24
Emmitt Smith, Career Rushing Yards: 18,355
Emmitt Smith, Career Rushing Touchdowns: 164
LaDainian Tomlinson, Single Season Rushing Touchdowns: 28
LaDainian Tomlinson, Single Season Total Touchdowns: 31
Bruce Smith, Career Sack Total: 200
Peyton Manning, Single season Passing Touchdowns: 54