In 2008, Drew Brees threw for 5,069 yards and fell 15 yards shy of Dan Marino's single-season record of 5,084 set back in 1984. And it appeared that Marino's record would exist for a lot longer, still. Yet, here we are, 27 years after the record was set, and we might finally have a challenger.
The 2011 season is looking like it will provide a quarterback to break Marino's record. There are currently four quarterbacks sitting over 4,000 yards for the season, each with the potential to break Marino's record.
We just don't know who it will be.
Perennial favorite Drew Brees leads the charge with 4,368 yards, but with several other star quarterbacks on his heels, the record could fall to anyone. Who will end up taking the top spot and earn a place in the history books forever?
Let's find out.
1. Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints)
Current yards - 4,368
Yards remaining to record - 716
Who will break Marino's passing yards record?
Drew Brees was many people's first choice as to who would break this record, especially after he came so agonizingly close a few seasons ago. This year, Brees has taken the New Orleans Saints to sit 10-3 atop the NFC South.
Completing a league high 70.9% of his passes for 32 touchdowns so far, he's averaging 336 yards per game. And with three weeks remaining in the regular season, Brees has an away game versus the Minnesota Vikings before finishing with two home games against the Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers.
That's games against the 26th, 22nd and 19th ranked passing defenses.
Yup, Brees looks set to have a big year.
Final prediction - 5,240 passing yards
Current yards - 4,273
Yards remaining to record - 801
Tom Brady has once again had a brilliant season, taking the New England Patriots to 10-3—first in the AFC East and in a tie for first for the AFC's No. 1 seed. His 11 touchdowns and 328.7 yards per game stands him in good stead to have a chance at breaking Marino's record.
Final prediction - 5,120 passing yards
Current yards - 4,125
Yards remaining to record - 959
Aaron Rodgers is incredible. Besides taking the Green Bay Packers to a 13-0 start, Rodgers has thrown for a league-high 39 touchdowns with only six interceptions. He has not had a game where his quarterback rating was below 100 and has averaged 317.3 passing yards per game.
Green Bay has a road trip to Kansas City before returning to Lambeau Field to take on the Chicago Bears Christmas Day and the Detroit Lions to finish the season.
The only thing that may hurt Rodgers is whether or not he will be affected by roster management with plans to preserve him for the playoffs.
If the Packers beat the Chiefs, they lock up the No. 1 seed in the NFC. I can't see Rodgers being benched at all for the Bears rivalry game, and I definitely can't see it happening in the final week when the Packers are going for 16-0.
Final prediction - 4,960 passing yards
Current yards - 4,105
Yards remaining to record - 979
When you hear the name Manning, it's easy to forget about Eli. Not that he doesn't have a Super Bowl ring or anything, but he's just not revered like his brother, Peyton.
All it took was one little injury to Peyton, though, and Eli is the standout Manning brother this year, throwing for 315.8 yards per game and taking the New York Giants to the division lead with three games to go in the season.
They finish the season with the Washington Redskins, followed by the New York Jets, before taking on the Dallas Cowboys in a game where the winner will likely be going to the playoffs, and the loser will be going home.
Final prediction - 4,910 passing yards
So, you're looking at both Drew Brees and Tom Brady to break Dan Marino's magical number of 5,084 passing yards, but only Drew will get his name in the record books.
If must be noted, though, that if any of the four quarterbacks mentioned can average 300-plus yards for the remaining three games, then they will beat Marino's mark.
Yet, considering the defensive strength of the teams to come, the numbers point towards Drew Brees and a total that may well last longer than Marino's original record.