Skip to main content

Seven candidates to break single-season records

Michael Strahan has a target on his back.

With a combined seven sacks in Week 17, J.J. Watt and Justin Houston both threatened Strahan's single-season record (22.5) in 2014.

That assault came just three years after Jared Allen notched 22 sacks by picking up 3.5 in the regular-season finale.

With quarterbacks attempting more passes than ever, Ravens linebacker Elvis Dumervil believes it's just a matter of time before Strahan loses the record.

"It's going to fall very soon," Dumervil said, via the Talk of Fame Network, "and I hope I'm the one who breaks it. I think the league is going to a lot of pass-happy offense. And the thing about it is, is that there are so many great rushers I give it in the next couple of years that the record will be broken ... for sure."

The sack became an official statistic in 1982, which leaves open the question of whether Strahan is the rightful record holder.

"Since when does 'all-time' begin in 1982?" quipped Hall of Famer Deacon Jones, who coined the term "sack" in the 1960s.

After reviewing Rams game film, football historian John Turney credited Jones with 26 sacks in 1967 and 24 in 1968 -- both of which were 14-game seasons.

If Jones holds the unofficial record, he might not be alone at the top. Former Bengals defensive end Coy Bacon is variously credited with 26, 22 or 21.5 sacks for the 14-game 1976 season.

Between those historic seasons, Watt's three-year stretch of dominance and the rise in pass attempts, it's reasonable to believe a pass rusher might reach the mid-twenties in sacks.

With that sentiment in mind, let's examine some single-season marks and the most likely candidate to break each record:

Michael Strahan's 22.5 sacks (2001): J.J. Watt, Texans

Since the advent of the statistic, Watt is the only player with multiple seasons of at least 20 sacks. His 2014 season is the most dominant we have witnessed by a defensive player since the prime of Lawrence Taylor's career. Watt's 2012 season isn't far behind. Nobody can claim to be surprised if Watt racks up 25 sacks in 2015.

Peyton Manning's 5,477 passing yards (2013): Andrew Luck, Colts

Through nine games last season, Luck was on pace to break Manning's 2013 mark. Then Ahmad Bradshaw was lost for the season, Reggie Wayne tore his triceps and the offensive line sprung leaks in December. With a game-breaking deep threat (T.Y. Hilton), one of the best receivers of the 21st century (Andre Johnson), a raw but talented breakout candidate (Donte Moncrief), a pair of solid tight ends (Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen) and a reliable pass-catcher in the backfield (Frank Gore), Luck's upgraded weapons take a back seat to no other 2015 quarterbacks.

Peyton Manning's 55 touchdowns (2013): Aaron Rodgers, Packers

Coach Mike McCarthy believes his offense's ceiling is the best pro football has seen. Rodgers can blame his team's home-field dominance for his failure to reach the "magical" numbers of 50 touchdowns and 5,000 yards in an MVP campaign. If not for a string of Lambeau Field laughers with leads of 30-3, 45-0, 38-3 and 42-0, the Packers wouldn't have taken the air out of the ball for quarters at a time. With a few more shootouts and better luck on the injury front, Rodgers can take aim at Manning's historically great 2013 season.

Calvin Johnson's 1,964 receiving yards (2012): Odell Beckham, Giants

An uncoverable Beckham averaged nine receptions, 133 yards and one touchdown over nine games as a rookie full-time starter. Prorated to 16 games, those numbers equate to 144 receptions, 2,128 yards and 16 scores. The most dynamic athlete in the NFL, Beckham is no one-year wonder, even if defenses send more double teams his way in 2015. With extraordinary suddenness, graceful quick-twitch athleticism, vice-grip hands, rare ball skills, easy leaping ability, improvisational creativity and precision route running from both outside spots as well as the slot, Beckham is a nightmare for opposing defensive backs.

Marvin Harrison's 143 receptions (2002): Antonio Brown, Steelers

Brown is the only player in NFL history to record at least five catches and 50 yards in all 16 games; he has accomplished the feat in back-to-back seasons, extending his streak to 33 games. If Brown can add just one more catch per game to his 2014 total of 129 receptions, he will bypass Harrison.

Randy Moss's 23 receiving touchdowns (2007): Dez Bryant, Cowboys

With all due respect to Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham and Calvin Johnson, Bryant has been the NFL's best red-zone threat over the past three years, totaling 41 touchdowns. Bryant not only converts a greater ratio of red-zone targets than any other player in the league, he's also one of the most explosive tackle breakers with the ball in his hands, leading to long touchdowns. Now that 2014 Offensive Player of the Year DeMarco Murray is in Philadelphia and potential Hall of Famer Jason Witten is losing a step, the Cowboys will have to lean more heavily on Bryant at the goal line.

Eric Dickerson's 2,105 rushing yards (1984): Adrian Peterson, Vikings(?)

The most talented and unstoppable running back of his generation came up just eight yards shy of Dickerson's record in 2012. After missing 15 games last season, he enters 2015 with fresh legs and a Steve Smith-sized chip on his shoulder. The only question: behind whose offensive line will he be running?

The latest Around The NFL Podcast debates which players are most likely to break prominent records and discusses Jameis Winston's pro day. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content