Drew Brees is an NFL record holder, can anyone top him?
The 2012 NFL season will be remembered as a record-breaking year.
With NFL rules favoring the offensive side of the ball, offensive schemes have opened up. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw for a record-setting 5,476 yards in 2011. The crazy part of that record falling was that both New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford topped 5,000 yards passing as well.
There are records that will surely fall in the 2012 NFL season, and there are other records that will be challenged. Here is a list of NFL records that will be—or have a chance to be—broken this season.
All statistics courtesy of NFL.com
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning should break this record in the opening week of the 2012 season. Manning is currently tied with Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino with 63 career games of 300 yards or more passing.
Manning has the offensive weapons in wide receivers Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas. He has not shown any lingering issues from the neck injury that kept him from breaking this record last year.
The record is currently held by former Pittsburgh Steeler, San Francisco 49er, Baltimore Raven and Oakland Raider great Rod Woodson. The Hall of Famer totaled 1,483 return yards in his illustrious career.
Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed—and former teammate of Woodson—sits at 1,463 return yards in his career, all with the Ravens. One of the best ball hawks in the NFL, Reed already holds the two longest interception returns in history.
With 21 more return yards, Reed will be on top and on his way to Canton to join Woodson again.
Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen or Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware will likely lead the NFL in sacks. Whichever player finishes on top will become the lone holder of this record.
Former NFL greats Mark Gastineau, Kevin Greene, Reggie White and Michael Strahan all have led the NFL in sacks two seasons. So have Allen (2007 and 2011) and Ware (2008 and 2010). So if Allen or Ware wants to etch their names in the sack record books, one will likely have to top the other this season.
Players are scoring points in droves, and 2012 will be a record-setting year for points not only in the NFL as a whole, but for an individual as well. Former San Diego Charger and New York Jet LaDainian Tomlinson scored 31 touchdowns in 2006.
Tomlinson had 28 rushing scores and three receiving touchdowns for a record-setting 186 points in a season. San Francisco 49ers kicker David Akers had 166 points last season.
That record could be challenged by a host of players. Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, Houston Texans running back Arian Foster, Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy and Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner all have the offense around them to make a run at Tomlinson’s record.
This record was broken last season by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. With the wide-open offenses in the NFL, this record will fall again this season.
The new mark is 5,476 passing yards, but in a pass-happy league, 6,000 yards is not out of the question.
Brees, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady are all solid candidates to rewrite the record book.
To be in the discussion in the aforementioned slide, the quarterback must get the opportunities to sling the football around the yard. The record for most passing attempts belongs to former New England quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who in 1994 had 691.
Drew Brees almost broke this record last year with 657 attempts. With the lack of running attacks in New England, Detroit and Green Bay, look for these teams' quarterbacks to give chase to Bledsoe's record.
St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford set this record in 2010 with 590 passing attempts. With the possibility of at least five rookie quarterbacks starting in 2012, look for this record to fall easily.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has the best chance to break the record due to the lack of a running attack. But Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson will all play quite a bit and get their throwing chances.
Former Chicago Bears kicker Kevin Butler set this record in 1985 for the Super Bowl-winning Bears, scoring 144 points. The kicker had 51 point-after scores and hit on 31 field goals.
Two rookie kickers could give this record a run. St. Louis Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein and Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker will get the opportunities to challenge Butler’s record.
Zuerlein is kicking for a team that may not score a lot of touchdowns, but should attempt a ton of field goals. Tucker is kicking for a team that should score plenty of touchdowns, so a host of his points will come on PATs.
Current Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson holds this record at 2,509 yards from the line of scrimmage. Johnson set the record in 2009 and could have a chance to rewrite the record books again.
Several running backs throughout the league—the Texans' Arian Foster, the Ravens' Ray Rice, the Eagles' LeSean McCoy, the Bears' Matt Forte and the Raiders' Darren McFadden—are adept in the rushing and passing attack.
If all the stars align just right for any one of these players, Johnson’s record could fall.
Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice has held this record since 1995. In that season, Rice had 1,848 receiving yards. That same season, St. Louis Rams great Isaac Bruce had 1,781 yards receiving, which is second all-time.
It's very possible this season that a receiver will get 2,000 yards, and since that has never happened in NFL history, that will be a record all its own. Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson is the most likely player to make a run for the record.
In an offense that likes to make him the focal point, Johnson will be targeted 15 to 20 times a game. If Johnson can average 125 yards a game, he will have the record at 2,000 yards in a season.
This is a record that was set just last season by the New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees. Brees had 13 games in which he threw for over 300 yards.
With the prolific offenses around the NFL, it would not be surprising if a quarterback had 300-plus passing yards in all 16 games.
This record dates back to 1995 and Dallas Cowboys great Michael Irvin. In that season, Irvin had 11 games in which he caught the ball for over 100 yards.
With so many good young wide receivers in the league, this record should be threatened this season. Julio Jones of the Falcons, Wes Welker of the Patriots, the Lions' Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall of the Bears, Andre Johnson of the Texans and the Panthers' Steve Smith are all the alpha receivers in their offensive scheme.
All of these players should get enough balls thrown their way to have a legitimate shot at breaking Irvin’s 17-year-old record.
One of the oldest records on the books is held by one of the best running backs of all time, Chicago Bears legend Gale Sayers. That season, Sayers scored 22 total touchdowns from the line of scrimmage. The Kansas Jayhawk great had 132 total points that season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin and Trent Richardson of the Browns are both built low to the ground and are powerful, inside-the-hashes runners. Both will get ample opportunities to carry the football near the goal line. Look for one of them to challenge this record in 2012.
Peyton Manning held this title for 13 years until Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton smashed the record in 2011. Newton threw for 4,051 yards, eclipsing Manning's mark of 3,739 yards.
What makes this record interesting is that the top five players on the list are currently starting quarterbacks in the NFL. Third is St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, who passed for 3,512 in 2010. Next on the list is Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons, with 3,440 passing yards in his freshman campaign in 2008. And at No. 5 is Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who had 3,398 in 2011.
With five rookie quarterbacks starting in 2012, there is a possibility none of the names mentioned above will be in the top five come January.
Now known more for his television chops, former New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan used to be a very good sack master. The single-season sack record holder put the quarterback to the turf a record 22.5 times in 2001.
Last season, Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen finished the season with 22. If only he could have played against Brett Favre and had him fall in front of him, Allen would be the record holder at 23.
With the lack of elite pass-blocking offensive tackles and more pass-first offenses, rushers are given more chances to pin their ears back and get to the quarterback. Allen, Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware, New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, Chicago Bears defensive end Julius Peppers, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Jason Babin and Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller all have the skills to get 23 sacks.
Look for a new sack leader to come in 2012.
Tennessee Titans edge rusher Jevon Kearse was almost unblockable as a rookie in 1999. "The Freak” had 14.5 sacks in his rookie campaign and still holds the record today.
Last year, rookie sensation Aldon Smith of the San Francisco 49ers almost topped Kearse, but he fell a half a sack short at 14.
With players like New England Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones, New York Jets defensive end Quinton Coples and San Diego Chargers outside linebacker Melvin Ingram rushing the passer, look for this record to fall in 2012.