NFL Records That Are Most Likely to Fall During the 2022 Season

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxCorrespondent IJune 23, 2022

NFL Records That Are Most Likely to Fall During the 2022 Season

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 16: Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt (90) points to fans before an AFC wild card playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs on Jan 16, 2022 at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    In the NFL, records aren't necessarily made to be broken. Bill Groman's rookie record of 1,473 receiving yards, for example, was set all the way back in 1960 and still stands today. Michael Strahan's single-season sacks record has stood for more than two decades, though T.J. Watt of the Pittsburgh Steelers was able to tie it last season.

    This doesn't mean that players don't think about breaking them. Green Bay Packers tight end Marcedes Lewis recently discussed his desire to set a new record for most seasons played by a tight end.

    "This year, I'll tie the record," Lewis said ahead of his 17th campaign, per Wes Hodkiewicz of the team's official website. "It would be great to break it."

    The reality is that all notable NFL records—except, perhaps, for Brett Favre's consecutive-starts streak of 297 games—will eventually be broken. This is especially true now that the league has expanded to 17 games

    Last year, for example, Miami Dolphins wideout Jaylen Waddle broke Anquan Boldin's 2003 record for rookie receptions in Week 18.

    What records are the most likely to fall during the 2022 season? Using factors like past production, projected role, scheme and player health, that's exactly what we'll examine here.

    Below, you'll find a look at both notable records that still stand and which players have a realistic shot at breaking them this season. To keep things interesting, we'll avoid records that were last broken within the past five seasons.

Single-Season Passing Yards

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    Tampa, Florida, Sunday, January 23, 2022 - Tampa quarterback Tom Brady passes during a first half drive against the Rams in the NFC Divisional Playoff at Raymond James Stadium. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
    Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

    Current Record: 5,477 Yards (Peyton Manning, 2013)

    This is one that felt almost certain to fall during the league's first-ever 17-game season. Someone did come within 200 yards of Peyton Manning's record of 5,477 yards in a season, but it wasn't one of the NFL's young gunslingers like Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert or Dak Prescott.

    Instead, it was 44-year-old Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (of course it was). Brady threw for a whopping 5,316 yards in his second season with the Bucs while breaking Drew Brees' 2016 completions record (471) with 485.

    Brady may never say it publicly, but a chance to break Manning's single-season passing record may have played a role in his decision to unretire this offseason.

    If Brady can throw for 161 yards more than he had last season, he'll own the new high-water mark. However, he isn't the only quarterback who should have a crack at it.

    Herbert also topped 5,000 passing yards in 2021 during a breakthrough campaign with the Los Angeles Chargers, while Mahomes, Matthew Stafford and Derek Carr all topped 4,800 yards.

    Stafford, now entering his second season with the Los Angeles Rams, should be more familiar with the scheme than a year ago and could see a jump in production. Carr is another interesting name to watch, now that the Las Vegas Raiders have reunited him with college teammate and All-Pro receiver Davante Adams.

    Players like Mahomes, Prescott, Josh Allen and Joe Burrow should also be threats if they stay healthy.

    The NFL is a passing league, and if Manning's record doesn't fall this season, it will soon.

Single-Season Receiving Yards

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    INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 13: Cooper Kupp #10 of the Los Angeles Rams celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals during Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium on February 13, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Current Records: 1,964 yards (Calvin Johnson, 2012)

    Rams wideout Cooper Kupp came incredibly close to breaking two noteworthy records in 2021.

    The 29-year-old finished his first Pro Bowl campaign with 145 receptions for 1,947 yards and 16 receiving touchdowns. He was less than 20 yards from breaking Calvin Johnson's 2012 record of receiving yards in a season and five catches away from breaking Michael Thomas' 2019 record for receptions in a season.

    Now in his second year with Stafford under center, Kupp should stand a reasonable chance of breaking new receiver ground in 2022—though he's said that schedule expansion changes how he views records.

    "We're in a new age of football here," Kupp said, per ESPN's Lindsey Thiry. "We're playing 17 games of football a year, and a lot of the stuff that happened before that, those records hold a different weight, being that they were played in those 16 games."

    Kupp isn't the only receiver who could threaten Johnson's record this season. Minnesota Vikings wideout Justin Jefferson has 3,016 yards in two seasons and could make a big Year 3 jump. Cincinnati Bengals receiver Ja'Marr Chase had 1,455 yards as a rookie.

    Chase, by the way, was extremely close to breaking Groman's rookie receiving record. He largely sat in the season finale and may have done so if Cincinnati had anything to play for against the Cleveland Browns in Week 17.

    Chase and quarterback Joe Burrow have a chemistry that dates back to their LSU days, and both should take positive steps this season. Don't be shocked if Chase emerges as the league's most prolific receiver in 2022—and perhaps as its new single-season receiving king.

Single-Season Receiving Touchdowns

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    Football: NFL Playoffs: Cincinnati Bengals Ja'Marr Chase (1) in action, making touchdown catch vs Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.  Sequence. Kansas City, MO 1/30/2022 CREDIT: David E. Klutho (Photo by David E. Klutho/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images) (Set Number: X163917 TK1)
    Set Number: X163917 TK1

    Current Record: 23 (Randy Moss, 2007)

    This one will be a little tougher to break than the single-season receiving record because 23 receiving touchdowns in one season is such a high bar. Randy Moss did it in 2007 with the New England Patriots, though, breaking Jerry Rice's 1987 record of 22 touchdown receptions.

    No other player in NFL history has topped 20 touchdown receptions. Yet.

    It could happen this year, and second-year superstar Ja'Marr Chase might be eyeing the milestone. He had 13 touchdowns as a rookie and, theoretically, will be a much better receiver in Year 2.

    "I think the next step for him is really attacking these DBs from the mental side of things," Bengals coach Zac Taylor said, per The Athletic's Jay Morrison. "He's already done that to some extent, but as he goes, he's only going to add to his list of guys he plays against and how they play and what their strengths are and how can I attack what their weaknesses are."

    An 11-touchdown jump would be difficult to manage, but it's not impossible. Chase is far from the only pass-catcher who could be chasing the record in 2022, either.

    Kupp logged 16 touchdowns in 2021, while Adams tallied 18 in 2020—again, his reunion with Carr could play a significant role.

    At any rate, the receiving touchdowns record is probably more likely to be broken than the single-season rushing touchdowns record. LaDainian Tomlinson set that with 28 in 2006. Since then, DeAngelo Williams (2008), Adrian Peterson (2009), LeGarrette Blount (2016) and Jonathan Taylor (2021) have come the closest and were still a full 10 touchdowns shy of Tomlinson's mark.

Single-Season Scrimmage Yards

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    JACKSONVILLE, FL - JANUARY 9: Running back Jonathan Taylor #28 of the Indianapolis Colts rushes against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field on January 9, 2022 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Jaguars won 26 -11. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
    Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

    Current Record: 2,509 (Chris Johnson, 2009)

    While we probably won't see the rushing touchdowns record broken in 2022, backs like Indianapolis Colts star Taylor could still chase history.

    Chris Johnson set the single-season record for scrimmage yards back in 2009 and remains the only player in league history to top 2,500 scrimmage yards in a season.

    Others have come close, though, including Taylor. Last year, the Colts' bell-cow tallied 2,171 scrimmage yards during a breakout campaign. He'll need to average 20 more yards per game and stay healthy for 17 games to break Johnson's record, but that could happen.

    The arrival of quarterback Matt Ryan in Indy could help boost Taylor's passing numbers while preventing defenses from keying in quite as much on the run. Ryan might be 37 years old, but he's a more reliable passer than what the Colts got from Carson Wentz last season.

    Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey was even closer to the record in 2019, racking up 2,392 scrimmage yards during his breakout season. If McCaffrey can get and stay healthy, he might push for the record, too.

    The same could be said of Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry as well. Henry had 937 rushing yards and 154 receiving yards in eight games last season before suffering a foot fracture. That would be 2,318 scrimmage yards prorated over a 17-game season.

    Other top-tier dual-threat backs like Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara could enter the mix as well, though it's worth noting that Taylor was the only player in the league to top 2,000 scrimmage yards this past season.

Single-Season Sacks

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    BALTIMORE, MD - JANUARY 09: Pittsburgh linebacker T.J. Watt (90) celebrates after a first quarter strip and forced fumble for a turnover during the Pittsburgh Steelers versus Baltimore Ravens National Football League game at M&T Bank Stadium on January 9, 2022 in Baltimore, MD. (Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Current Record: 22.5 (Michael Strahan, 2001 and T.J. Watt 2021)

    Of all the records on this list, this one feels like the most likely to be broken in 2022. The reason is rather simple. Pittsburgh Steelers star T.J. Watt tied Michael Strahan's 2001 record this past season and did so while playing only 15 games.

    If Watt can stay on the field for a full season, he could end up having the single-season record all to his lonesome.

    For Watt, sharing a piece of NFL history isn't the ultimate goal.

    "I feel that I have so much more to give to the game," Watt said, per The Athletic's Mark Kaboly. "I am definitely not satisfied. I am trying to continue to grow and be one of the best who ever played this game."

    Watt is not the only sack artist who will be in the running this year. Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald has a 20.5-sack season (2018) on his resume and is always a threat to lead the league in quarterback takedowns.

    The NFL is filled with talented up-and-coming pass-rushers and aggressive schemes. Last season, Watt, Nick Bosa, Robert Quinn and Myles Garrett all topped 15 sacks and could claim the record with a jump of 7.5 sacks or fewer in 2022.

    Unless new Steelers defensive coordinator Teryl Austin takes a surprisingly conservative approach, though, Watt feels like the clear front-runner for this milestone.

Times Sacked in a Season

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    ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 09: Ed Oliver #91 of the Buffalo Bills sacks Zach Wilson #2 of the New York Jets during the third quarter at Highmark Stadium on January 09, 2022 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
    Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

    Current Record: 76 (David Carr, 2002)

    Some records are ones that players hope to avoid breaking. Such is the case with David Carr's 2002 record of being sacked 76 times in a single season.

    This feels like another tough one to top, though with more games than ever and a clear focus on pass-first offenses, it's not impossible. As passing increases, so does the opportunity to be sacked.

    New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson was sacked 44 times as a rookie last year despite appearing in only 13 games. Had he played the entire season, he would have been on pace for roughly 58 sacks taken in 2021.

    This is still quite a bit shy of Carr's mark of 76, but it helps illustrate how teams are willing to allow young signal-callers to take hits.

    Chicago Bears rookie Justin Fields took 36 sacks despite making only 10 starts last season. He was also under pressure on a whopping 27.3 percent of his dropbacks, according to Pro Football Reference. The Bears allowed 58 sacks overall in 2021.

    Chicago, it should be noted, did little to improve its offensive line this offseason. It lost a reliable piece in James Daniels while adding the likes of Dakota Dozier and Lucas Patrick.

    Rookie quarterbacks like Kenny Pickett and Desmond Ridder could also be quarterbacks to watch if they begin their starting careers in Week 1. Inexperience can lead to sacks, as they did for Carr way back when he set the record.

    Of course, for a quarterback to break this one, he'd have to both take sacks at a high rate and stay healthy enough—and play well enough despite the punishment—to stay on the field for a full 17-game slate.

    Still, as older dubious records go, this feels more likely to fall than, say, Kerry Collins' and Daunte Culpepper's share record of 23 fumbles in a season or George Blanda's 1962 record of 42 interceptions thrown.

Most Career Fourth-Quarter Comebacks

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    TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 19: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Quarterback Tom Brady (12) has his eyes on a receiver during the regular season game between the New Orleans Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on December 19, 2021 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Current Record: 43 (Peyton Manning)

    Here's another reason why Brady may have decided to unretire after a little more than a month this offseason. The former Patriots star and current Buccaneers quarterback holds just about every quarterback record imaginable. Just about.

    Brady doesn't have the record for most fourth-quarter comebacks by a quarterback. That honor goes to Manning, who long served as Brady's biggest positional rival.

    The soon-to-be 45-year-old came close to tying Manning last season. He produced fourth-quarter comebacks against the Patriots, Jets and Dallas Cowboys which brought his career total to 42.

    Now just a single fourth-quarter comeback behind his former AFC foe, Brady has a realistic chance to break the record in 2022—assuming he continues to avoid injury and Tampa doesn't consistently win via blowout.

    This would add to Brady's already long list of records, one that includes; most career wins, most career attempts, most career completions, most career touchdown passes, most career passing yards, longest touchdown pass (tied) and, of course, most Super Bowl victories.

    Oh, and Brady needs 39 touchdown passes to become the Buccaneers' all-time record-holder. It's only a franchise record, but if Brady can break it in only three seasons, it will be quite the feat.

    At this point in his career, Brady has little left to prove. Breaking Manning's mark is one of the only challenges left for TB12 to conquer, and there's a good chance we see him do it in 2022.

    *Statistics from Pro Football Reference