10 NFL Records That Can Be Broken This Season

Jake Mann@@mjakemannContributor IIIOctober 9, 2012

10 NFL Records That Can Be Broken This Season

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    Five weeks into this year's NFL season, we've witnessed a number of impressive individual performances across the league. From J.J. Watt's utter domination of opposing linemen to Reggie Wayne's ridiculous receiving totals, there are a multitude of NFL records that are on pace to be broken this year.

    Forget the Year of the QB. When 2012 is all said and done, football fans may come to know it as the Year of the Record Book.

    Without further ado, let's take a look at 10 regular season NFL records that have a very real possibility of being broken by January. We'll give you a hint: A certain Saints quarterback is most likely on this list. Enjoy.

Highest Regular Season Rookie Passer Rating

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    Current Record Holder: Ben Roethlisberger, 98.1

    Challenger: Robert Griffin III, 101.0 (pace)

    Judging by his Subway commercials, Robert Griffin III is touted as a run-first quarterback who can also let it fly once in a while. He also appears to eat sub sandwiches before and after every game, but that's beside the point.

    The statistics don't lie—at least about the running part—as RGIII is averaging close to 50 yards and a TD on the ground each week.

    What most non-Redskins fans are likely unaware of, however, is just how efficient Griffin has been. 

    The QB is currently completing his passes at a slick 69.1 percent rate, averages over eight yards per attempt and has a 4:1 TD-to-interception ratio. The most important statistic, though, is his triple-digit passer rating, which actually ranks fifth among all signal-callers.

    If RGIII can keep this up—while learning to scramble out of bounds every once and a while—he has a legitimate chance at breaking Ben Roethlisberger's record for the highest rookie passer rating in a season.

Most Rushing Attempts in a Season

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    Current Record Holder: Larry Johnson, 416

    Challenger: Arian Foster, 422 (pace)

    Arian Foster is no stranger to a heavy workload, as the Texans' run-first offense is an ample spring from which fantasy points spout forth like water. Hampered by a sore hammy in 2011, the running back amassed 278 carries, though he did break the 300-carry mark one year earlier.

    This season, the practice-squad graduate with a penchant for poetry has taken his durability to a level most of us didn't expect and is on pace to beat the NFL regular season record for carries, which is currently held by Larry Johnson.

    There are two factors working against Foster here: (1) his team is 5-0 and may have the AFC South locked up by the middle of December, and (2) he has a more than adequate backup in Ben Tate, who has proved to carry the rock admirably when called upon.

Most 400-Plus Yard Passing Games in a Season

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    Current Record Holder: Dan Marino, 4

    Challenger: Drew Brees, 1 (through Week 5)

    It wouldn't be a stretch to think that Drew Brees already has his Hall of Fame speech written. He is as much of a lock to be enshrined in Canton as any 33-year-old player in the history of the NFL.

    The Saints QB already holds a bevy of spots in the record book, including his most recent foray into Unitas territory, breaking Johnny U's record for consecutive games with a TD pass at 48.

    While Brees broke Dan Marino's iconic full-season passing yard mark last year, there's a less heralded record that the Dolphins great still has in his possession, for the most 400-plus yard games in a year.

    Though he only has one to his name thus far—Marino had four in 1984—Brees can surpass this mark, due to: (1) a lack of a consistent running game, (2) a strong possibility his team won't make the playoffs and (3) plenty of shootout-worthy matchups still left on the schedule.

    Similar to his 446-yard effort against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in Week 4, Brees may produce some staggering totals against Peyton Manning (Week 8), Matt Ryan (Weeks 10 and 13), Eli Manning (Week 14) and Tony Romo (Week 16). Only time will tell.

Most Sacks in a Season

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    Current Record Holder: Michael Strahan, 22.5

    Challenger: J.J. Watt, 27.0 (pace)

    J.J. Watt is a flat out beast. Since being selected in the 2011 NFL draft by the Texans, the paradox that is a 300-lb man who can run a 4.8 40 has amassed 14 sacks in 21 career regular season games.

    Watt really stepped up his game in last year's playoffs, where he totaled 3.5 sacks in the Wild Card and Divisional rounds.

    In 2012 thus far, the Wisconsin graduate is the chief reason why the Texans have a top-10 defense, as he has totaled 8.5 sacks in five games. Though sacks are a tough statistic to project, given their unpredictability and tendency to come in bunches, Watt has a fighting chance at breaking Michael Strahan's regular-season record.

    Another factor working in Watt's favor is his schedule. The Texans have many sack-prone teams left to play, including the Packers, Ravens, Bears and Jaguars over the next six weeks. Each of these offensive lines are currently in the bottom third of the NFL in terms of sacks allowed this season.

Most Receiving Yards and Receptions in a Season

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    Current Record Holders: Marvin Harrison, 143 receptions; Jerry Rice, 1,848 yards

    Challenger: Reggie Wayne, 144 receptions (pace); 2,024 yards (pace)

    This record may have the biggest "WOW" factor on this list. If Reggie Wayne keeps up his current pace, he will break the records of two of his position's greatest players, while doing so with a rookie quarterback.

    This speaks volumes for the season Andrew Luck is having so far, but we'll get to that a little later. Aside from having the potential to break the two most important WR records, Wayne's yardage pace would make him the only receiver to ever break the 2,000-yard mark, making RWayne2K a fitting nickname.

    While this extrapolated projection may seem unreachable, it's worth mentioning that Wayne is also leading the league in targets and is projected to total 240 this season. Interestingly, the wideout has caught 60 percent of the balls thrown to him this season, which is not only sustainable, but may actually rise as his rapport with Luck improves.

    Throw in the fact that the Colts are near the NFL's bottom third in terms of total yards allowed on defense and we can see that this is a perfect situation for more end zone dances like the one pictured above.

Lowest Yards Per Carry in a Season

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    Current Record Holder: Lee Bouggess, 2.52

    Challenger: Chris Johnson, 2.87 (pace)

    In 1970, Eagles running back Lee Bouggess rushed 159 times for 401 yards, good for a 2.52 YPC. This atrocity has stood the test of time as the worst mark in NFL history for backs with a minimum of 150 attempts in a season.

    As we discussed last week, Chris Johnson can give Lee Bouggess a run for his money unless the Titans begin to use him more effectively and his line can prove it can block anybody.

    Consider this statistic: In four of his five starts this season, CJ has finished with a YPC below 2.1, carrying 15 times for 24 yards in his most recent matchup against the Vikings.

    The only thing working against Johnson's journey toward sporting infamy is the Titans' matchups against cake defenses like Indianapolis and Buffalo, but one thing is for sure: He will have to work hard to avoid being the worst post-2,000 rusher.

    Of the 2K club, Eric Dickerson has the lowest single-season YPC with at least 150 carries, as he tallied just 3.2 yards a pop in his 1991 season with the Colts. The major difference between Johnson and Dickerson is that "Mr. Fourth Quarter" was 30 years old in that season. CJ is currently the ripe old age of 27.

Most Regular Season Rookie Passing Yards

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    Current Record Holder: Cam Newton, 4,051

    Challenger: Andrew Luck, 4,832 (pace)

    It's so interesting that RGIII is receiving far more hype through five weeks than Andrew Luck, despite the fact that Luck was the higher draft pick.

    In three of Luck's first four NFL starts, he has surpassed the 300-yard mark and is currently on pace to finish 2012 with over 4,800 passing yards. The Stanford standout's TD pace (28) isn't too shabby either, though five interceptions through four games and a completion percentage below 55 percent shows that there is still room for improvement.

    As mentioned earlier, a major reasoning behind Luck's success this season lies with Reggie Wayne, who has served as the best security blanket any rookie could ever ask for. Fellow rookies Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen have provided nice targets from the tight end slots, and Donnie Avery will continue to serve as an adequate WR2 opposite Wayne.

    With a rushing game and defense in the doldrums of the NFL, Luck will continue to have no choice but to air it out over the season's remaining 12 weeks, making Cam Newton's rookie passing yardage record a good bet to be broken.

Most Pick Sixes in a Season

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    Current Record Holder: 1961 Chargers, 9

    Challenger: 2012 Bears, 16 (pace)

    The Chicago Bears have long been synonymous with stellar defense, though they've never been quite as electric as they've played this year. Through five games, the team's defensive unit has returned a whopping five interceptions for touchdowns. 

    The players joining in on this parade have been Major Wright (1), Lance Briggs (2), and Charles Tillman (2).

    If their pace holds, it will shatter one of professional football's oldest records.

    The Bears have plenty of pick-heavy teams over the next few weeks, as they get the Lions, Panthers and Titans in their next three games. While it's impossible to predict how many touchdowns a defensive unit can score over the long haul, it's at least a good sign that the team will have the opportunity to face some more interception-prone quarterbacks this season.

Most Regular Season Passing Yards

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    Current Record Holder: 2011 Drew Brees, 5,476

    Challenger: 2012 Drew Brees, 5,504

    This is a bit superfluous, but it's worth mentioning that the Saints QB is actually on pace to break his all-time regular season passing mark that he set last season.

    Though his rating is down from 110.6 last season to 90.7 this season, Brees' pass attempts are actually way up and are projected to total 755 this season, which would mark an increase of nearly 15 percent from 2011.

Most 4,000-Yard QBs in a Season

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    Okay, this is a bonus record that isn't an official stat, but it is worth mentioning.

    It appears that 5,000 yards may now be the "exclusive club" for quarterbacks, much like 4,000 yards was just a short decade ago.

    From Ryan Tannehill to Drew Brees, an astounding 17 quarterbacks are projected to surpass the 4,000 yard mark by the end of the season, making the once-great milestone an indicator of who is simply above league average.

    The NFL's previous high was 10, which was set in both 2011 and 2009.

    Here's a list of the 17 QBs projected to break the 4,000 yard mark, along with their pace estimates.

    Drew Brees, 5,504

    Eli Manning, 5,053

    Andrew Luck, 4,832

    Peyton Manning, 4,822

    Matt Ryan, 4,822

    Matthew Stafford, 4,728

    Joe Flacco, 4,659

    Tom Brady, 4,640

    Tony Romo, 4,592

    Ben Roethlisberger, 4,444

    Carson Palmer, 4,324

    Andy Dalton, 4,304

    Michael Vick, 4,227

    Aaron Rodgers, 4,182

    Brandon Weeden, 4,122

    Ryan Tannehill, 4,061

    Philip Rivers, 4,003

    It definitely makes you think twice about the validity of using the 4,000 milestone as a type of "QB measuring stick" when Brandon Weeden and Carson Palmer are projected to surpass it.