17 game NFL season: Which single-season records will be broken?


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The NFL has approved plans to expand the regular season from 16 games to 17 games for the 2021 NFL season. This means the league’s best players will now have an extra 60 minutes to break some of the NFL’s single-season records. 

Here is a list of some of the records that could be changing hands in 2021 thanks to a handful of more NFL games

Passing Yards: 5,477 -- Peyton Manning (2013)

Peyton Manning set the NFL record for most passing yards in a single season, throwing for 5,477 yards with the Denver Broncos in 2013. Drew Brees (5,208), Ben Roethlisberger (5,129), and Jameis Winston (5,109) all have come close since but couldn’t surpass Manning’s MVP-winning season. 

Passing Touchdowns: 55 -- Peyton Manning (2013)

Manning also threw 55 TDs in 2013, moving past Tom Brady for the most passing TDs in a season. Patrick Mahomes had 50 TDs during his MVP campaign in 2018 and could be the one to surpass Manning’s record this year. Russell Wilson eclipsed Manning’s 2013 pace in 2020 with 14 touchdowns through three games but ultimately fell short with 40 touchdowns.

Rushing Yards: 2,105 -- Eric Dickerson (1984)

Eric Dickerson set the NFL’s single-season rushing record with the Los Angeles Rams in 1984, running for 2,105 yards. Derrick Henry fell 78 yards short (2,027) of that number last season in Tennessee. If Henry can stay healthy in 2021, a new rushing king could be crowned.

Rushing Touchdowns: 28 -- LaDainian Tomlinson (2006)

LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 28 TDs during his 2006 MVP season with the then-San Diego Chargers. With electrifying running backs like Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara and Henry, Tomlinson’s record could be challenged this season.

Receptions: 149 -- Michael Thomas (2019)

Michael Thomas caught 149 passes with the New Orleans Saints in 2019, setting the record for most receptions in a single season and winning Offensive Player of the Year. Some of the NFL’s top receivers should have no problem breaking this record, including Stefon Diggs, who had 127 receptions in his first season on the Buffalo Bills last year.

Receiving Yards: 1,946 -- Calvin Johnson (2012)

Calvin Johnson set the record for most receiving yards in a single season with the Detroit Lions, amassing 1,946 yards in 2012. Julio Jones ranks second on the list with 1,871 yards in 2015. With the NFL more pass-happy than ever before, receivers like Jones, DeAndre Hopkins and Tyreek Hill could find themselves within reach of Megatron’s NFL record soon.

Receiving Touchdowns: 23 -- Randy Moss (2007)

Randy Moss burned opposing secondaries on the New England Patriots in 2007, setting the NFL single-season record for receiving TDs with 23. Davante Adams caught the third-most receiving TDs in a season (18) last year on the Green Bay Packers, helping Aaron Rodgers win MVP. The Adams-Rodgers duo will continue their chase for 23 with 17 games in 2021.

Sacks: 22.5 -- Michael Strahan (2001)

Michael Strahan’s 22.5 sacks in 2001 with the New York Giants broke the single-season record previously set by New York Jets’ Mark Gastineau. Two current players -- Aaron Donald and J.J. Watt -- hold the seventh-most sacks in a single season, only 2.5 sacks short of Strahan’s mark. While Watt has dealt with injuries in past years, Donald remains one of the league’s best interior defensive linemen and could be the NFL’s sack leader with an extra game to work this season. 

Tackles: 156 -- Ray Lewis (1997)

Ray Lewis made 156 tackles during his sophomore season with the Baltimore Ravens in 1997, a record no player has come close to in over two decades. San Francisco 49ers’ LB Patrick Willis made 136 tackles in 2007, and Paul Posluszny tallied 122 in 2013. The only active player to come close to Lewis’ record is Indianapolis Colts LB Darius Leonard, who had 111 tackles during his Defensive Rookie of the Year season in 2018.

James Best contributed to this story.

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