Six famous NFL records further jeopardized by 17-game season
Tuesday's announcement that the NFL is moving to a 17-game regular season for each of its teams will come with consequences – an alteration of each club's matchup matrix, additional wear and tear on players, half the league's teams getting an extra home game in a given year, et al.
And then there are the asterisks that promise to figuratively litter the NFL record book. (Consider that, moving forward, a 1,000-yard season will now require an average of 59 yards per game, while a 4,000-yard passing campaign means averaging 236 yards a week.)
Some of the league's most notable records were already under siege recently, but now it seems pretty safe to assume they're much more likely to fall by the wayside with players getting a 6% opportunity boost afforded by playing the extra week henceforth.
Here are six esteemed marks that could be changing hands in the very near future:
1. 19+ wins
Since the NFL expanded to a 16-game regular season in 1978, seven teams have gone 15-1 or better going into the playoffs – the 2007 New England Patriots the lone squad to complete a 16-0 regular season. Those Pats finished 18-1 after getting upset by the Giants in Super Bowl 42, while the 1984 San Francisco 49ers and 1985 Chicago Bears also finished 18-1 – both of those legendary squads ultimately winning Lombardi Trophies. No team has ever won 19 combined regular-season and postseason games, though that mark is now (slightly) more attainable presuming a 16-1 season capped by three playoff wins, including a Super Bowl victory. Of course, those chasing the legendary 1972 Dolphins – the only team to go undefeated and win the Lombardi Trophy, though with a 17-0 ledger – must now pull off a 20-0 campaign.
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2. Peyton Manning's passing yards
The recently elected Hall of Famer (and league's only five-time MVP) surpassed Drew Brees by 1 yard before coming out of the 2013 regular-season finale early with a single-season mark of 5,477 yards. But even if Manning had stayed in that day in Oakland to push past 5,500 yards and beyond, this standard doesn't seem likely to last much longer. Of the 12 times 5,000 yards have been eclipsed, all but one have occurred since 2008. Manning and Brees averaged 342.3 yards per game in their most prolific seasons, but consider that Cowboys star Dak Prescott was averaging 422.5 yards – that projects to 7,183 over a 17-game season – in his first four starts last year for a defensively challenged team before being injured in the fifth. In a league obsessed with passing, it's likely only a matter of time before somebody overtakes Manning – and maybe even gets to 6,000 yards – in a 17-game campaign.
3. Peyton Manning's TD passes
In that same Week 17 game to end the 2013 regular season, Manning – he'd set the single-season TD pass mark the week before with 51 – piled on four more scoring strikes through the air. His total of 55 is five clear of Tom Brady (2007) and Patrick Mahomes (2018). Of the eight times the 45-TD plateau has been reached by a QB, six have occurred since 2007 – not including when Manning broke Dan Marino's 1984 record by throwing 49 in 2004. Taking down Manning's current standard in a 17-game season would require 3.3 TD passes per game.
4. Eric Dickerson's rushing record
The Hall of Famer piled up a record 2,105 rushing yards in 1984, his second season. Yet it's noteworthy that Dickerson's 131.6 rush yards per game may be the most of the 16-game era, yet are only fourth all time. O.J. Simpson, the only man to rush for 2,000 yards before 1978, owns that standard with 143.1 rushing yards per game in 1973 – 10 yards clear of second-place Jim Brown (1963). Back to the 21st century, 2020 rushing champ Derrick Henry averaged 126.7 yards per game on his way to a league-high 2,027. Based on those numbers, had Henry had a 17th game last year, he would have beaten Dickerson's record by nearly 50 yards. An average of 123.9 over 17 games will best Dickerson.
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