The Players Most Likely to Break 10 Major NFL Records
You know it's a momentous time in the NFL when multiple records that were established by league legends are in danger. The league has had a recent influx of players with ability and clutch execution like we have not seen before, and the record book will soon be rewritten in the wake of their arrival.
Numbers and names that have been known for over a generation in some cases will be erased, and there will be new names and numbers in their place...which will eventually give way to another generation of legends in the making.
For now, let's focus on the current records that could soon fall to the elite of the elite this season and beyond.
Rushing Yards in a Single Season: Adrian Peterson
Adrian Peterson's 2012 campaign is the kind of season that will be the subject of folk songs and tall tales in the future. After tearing multiple knee ligaments in December last season, Peterson is now only 293 yards short of Eric Dickerson's record of 2,105 yards rushing in 1984.
If he runs for his average over the last eight games, Peterson will break the record. Even if he falls short this year, Peterson has accomplished this monumental season despite only having one 100-yard game in his first six.
Whether the single-season rushing mark is held by Peterson or Dickerson next season, it is in danger in 2013.
Receiving Yards in a Single Season: Calvin Johnson
UPDATE: Johnson broke Rice's record with an 11-catch, 225-yard performance against the Falcons on Dec. 22, leaving him with 1,892 yards on the season.
At this point, it will be an upset if Calvin Johnson does not break Jerry Rice's single-season receiving yards record.
He is 181 yards away from the record of 1,848 yards that Rice set in 1995, and Johnson hasn't had less than 118 receiving yards in his last seven games. Johnson will surely be a threat to break his own record in 2013, because like Peterson, he started slow this year.
In the first seven games this season, Johnson had three with 54 or fewer receiving yards. He has also had to operate without a consistent quality No. 2 receiver to draw coverage away from him.
It's Calvin Johnson's world, and we're just living in it.
Passing Yards/Touchdowns in a Single Season: Tom Brady
Brady could soon own both records, including an eclipse of his 50-score season if the Patriots make the personnel moves to make this passing offense once again what it was in that magical season.
Brandon Lloyd was signed to be the downfield receiving threat for New England, but he was a flop until just two weeks ago. If the team can sign Mike Wallace or trade for Percy Harvin in the offseason (and keep Wes Welker for one more year), the NFL will have no answers for the Patriots pass offense.
Brady and head coach Bill Belichick also refuse to let up on opponents no matter how large the margin is on the scoreboard.
That is exactly the kind of mentality that leads to record setting.
Field Goals of 50 Yards or Longer in a Single Season: Blair Walsh
Minnesota's rookie kicker has already tied the league record for made field goals of 50 yards or longer with eight this season, so this is yet another record that could fall before the season is up.
With a quarterback who can't finish drives and the advantage of kicking indoors in ideal conditions for at least nine games every year, Blair Walsh also has the inside track to set the bar even higher next year.
Nothing that has happened this season will discourage the Vikings from giving Walsh even more opportunities from far out.
Not only has Walsh made eight field goals from 50 or more yards this year, he has only attempted eight, which is perhaps even more impressive than the number he has made.
Pass Attempts in a Single Season: Matthew Stafford
Drew Bledsoe set the record for single-season pass attempts in 1994 with 691, but Matthew Stafford needs only 62 to tie the mark this season.
This perhaps is not a record to be proud of, as the Lions are on their way to a disastrous losing season after reaching the playoffs for the first time in over a decade last year.
Stafford has regressed as a passer, and the number of attempts hasn't resulted in any refinement or improvement in his game. Since he is only 24, he could have a lot of chances to break this record in the future.
Hopefully for Lions fans, they can restore balance to the offense next season.
Sacks in a Single Season: Aldon Smith
Everyone remembers Brett Favre sitting down for Michael Strahan so he could break the single-season sack record in 2001, putting the mark at 22.5. Aldon Smith needs three sacks in the final two games to tie Strahan's record, and he won't need any quarterbacks to lay down in front of him to accomplish it.
J.J. Watt also has 19.5 sacks this season, but Smith plays in the superior defense. His starting point outside of the offensive tackle's outside shoulder is a more advantageous spot to rush the passer from than Watt's 5-technique 3-4 defensive end position.
Both are once-in-a-generation pass-rushers, but Smith has the better shot to put up once-in-a-lifetime numbers this year.
Longest Field Goal: Sebastian Janikowski
"Seabass" already holds a share of this record, currently set at 63 yards.
With rookies Blair Walsh and Greg Zuerlein barging in on his status as the best distance kicker in the league, the pressure is on Sebastian Janikowski to break this record before one of the youngsters erases his name from the record book and replaces it with their own.
Janikowski has always been one of the more unconventional talents at the kicker position, but with some new kids on the block to push him, he should find the strength and accuracy to hit a kick from at least 65 yards.
Career Rushing Yards by a Quarterback: Robert Griffin III
Remember when it seemed like Michael Vick was clearly the most dangerous runner at quarterback that the league would ever see? Vick's record of 5,526 career rushing yards, which he should pad a bit more before he's done in the NFL, would be a very good career for most running backs.
Robert Griffin III should surpass 6,000 rushing yards by the time he's 30. Griffin already has 748 rushing yards with two games to go this season. He's only 22, and he has a head coach in Mike Shanahan who is willing to tailor the offense to his strengths.
Heck, before it's all said and done, Griffin could join the exclusive club of 27 running backs to rush for over 10,000 yards in a career.
Career Rushing Touchdowns by a Quarterback: Cam Newton
Less than two years into his professional career, Cam Newton is already almost halfway to breaking Steve Young's record for career quarterback rushing touchdowns. Young posted 43; Newton already has 21.
Newton's massive frame makes him an unstoppable goal-line runner. His defensive end-sized body also gives him an edge over the other premier running quarterback, Robert Griffin III, because his coaches won't shy away from using him in short-yardage situations.
Only eight running backs in NFL history have 100 rushing touchdowns. As long as Newton plays into his 30s, he could join this elite fraternity as a quarterback.
Career Passing Yards: Drew Brees
The longevity and late-career effectiveness of Brett Favre made his career passing yards record of 71,838 seem completely untouchable when he retired in 2010, but Drew Brees has a good shot to top it if he can play until he is 40.
Brees has two of the top five all-time single-season passing yards totals, and as long as he keeps pace with his 2012 average, this year will be No. 6 all time. Brees is making 4,000 yards look like a walk in the park, with 5,000 being the new 4,000 for him. Seven more 4,000-yard seasons would give Brees the record.
As long as his body holds up, the record should be his.