Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 5/18/12
Let me just get the “records were made to be broken” cliché out of the way early – now you don’t need to worry about it popping up later.

Is it just me or have the all-time records started to fall with scary frequency lately? Just last season, not one, but two players [Brady, Brees] broke Dan Marino’s all-time passing yardage mark for a single season – a record which stood for 26 years. If that weren’t enough, Rob Gronkowski followed up a solid rookie season by eclipsing Kellen Winslow’s 31-year old mark of 1,290 yards by a tight end. And lest we not forget that in 2007, Tom Brady broke the mark for TD passes in a single season (50), which had just previously been broken in 2004 by Peyton Manning (48). Clearly a trend is forming.

As we look ahead to the 2012 season, what are the next set of records in danger of being savagely beaten into submission?


Receiving Yards in a Single Season – Wide Receiver
Record Holder: Jerry Rice – 1,869 yards in 1995
Best Chance to Dethrone the Record: Calvin Johnson or Wes Welker

This is one record which may stand the test of time, but with the passing game quickly taking over the NFL, maybe not. Calvin Johnson had 1,681 yards last season, which gets him in the conversation – but it should be pointed out that his 244 yards in Week 17 probably helped his numbers a little. In 1995, Jerry Rice caught 122 balls, which was actually the exact amount Wes Welker caught in 2011. What may be the definitive sign of the likelihood this record falls is that in 1995, Rice set his mark with a per catch average of only 15.1 yards – in 2011, Calvin Johnson’s average was 17.5. If we moved Calvin’s receptions from 96 to 122, he would have had 2,136 yards receiving. This record can be broken; it is just going to take the right guy hauling in enough passes to get there.

 
Passing Yards in a Single Game – Quarterback
Record Holder: Norm Van Brocklin – 554 yards in 1951
Best Chance to Dethrone: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers or Matthew Stafford

In history, only 12 players have ever thrown for more than 500 yards in a single game – Matthew Stafford and Tom Brady both did it last season. As interesting bookends to the 2011 season, Brady threw for 517 yards against the Miami Dolphins in Week 1, while Matthew Stafford tossed for 520 yards in Week 17 against the Green Bay Packers. It isn’t a matter of if, but when, this record falls. As “Luck” would have it, the Indianapolis Colts play the Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots and Detroit Lions this season – this record is going down hard, perhaps multiple times.

 
Rushing Yards in a Season by a Quarterback
Record Holder: Michael Vick – 1,039 yards in 2006
Best Chance to Dethrone: Tim Tebow or Cam Newton

Before puppy-gate, Michael Vick was turning the football world on its head as he showed the kind of athletic ability a quarterback was simply not supposed to have. Last season Cam Newton set the rookie record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 14, and added 706 yards on the ground – so clearly he can threaten Vick’s record. But the one player who would absolutely have this record toppled, if ever given the chance, is Tim Tebow. The Meadowland Miracle Man (Trademark Pending) is really a running back playing quarterback. If he could ever get the undisputed starting job from the start of the season, his chances to break Vick’s record would be pretty high. In only 11 games, Tebow rushed for 660 yards last season in Denver. Based on Tebow’s 5.4 yards per carry average, if he started all 16 games in 2011, he would have been knocking on Vicks door with an extrapolated 959 yards rushing – and really, Denver didn’t even install a true spread-option offense until a few starts in to the Tebow experiment.

 
Sacks in a Single Season – Defensive Lineman/Linebacker
Record Holder: Michael Strahan – 22.5 sacks, 2001
Best Chance to Dethrone: Jared Allen, DeMarcus Ware or Jason Pierre-Paul

With 22 sacks a year ago, Jared Allen was half-a-takedown away from tying Strahan for the record. Although, maybe since Brett Favre just fell down and let Strahan land on him to break the mark in the first place, it should have only counted as a half-sack at the time. Still, pass rushers are evolving into speed demons in their own right, and the sack is becoming a stat players can compile in a hurry. We have already seen Jared Allen’s bid for the mark, but if you look at the list of all-time sack seasons, DeMarcus Ware is the only player in history with two entries in the top 10 (20 in 2008, 19.5 in 2011). Yet, it might be Jason Pierre-Paul with the best chance to break Strahan’s mark. In only his second year in the league, “Double-P” racked up 16.5 sacks, and showed the kind of speed and freakish athletic ability Julius Peppers displayed when he first entered the NFL. Quarterbacks, you have been warned.
 
 
Players Moving Up the Leader Boards

Peyton Manning: He sits just 21 touchdowns away from tying Dan Marino for second all-time behind Brett Favre’s uncatchable 508 TD tosses.

Randy Moss: Although after a 2011 season of 28 receptions for 393 yards, it is not exactly easy to predict what we’ll see from Randy Moss this year. He currently remains only 46 catches away from 1,000 for his career. Moss is also tied with Terrell Owens for second all-time in TD receptions with 153. Assuming T.O. can’t catch on with a team this year, and Moss actually shows up to play, he should have No.2 all to himself.

Tom Brady: The Golden Boy’s Hall-of-Fame resume will get some more padding this season, as he will move into the Top 10 in both career yards and career completions before the year is done, and he is only 42 touchdowns away from Frank Tarkenton for No. 4 all-time in passing touchdowns. Brady also needs just one playoff win to take first place in all-time postseason wins for a quarterback – a distinction he currently shares with Joe Montana at 16. And lastly, two more playoff starts will allow him to tie Brett Favre with a record 24 playoff starts under center. 

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