Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Aldon Smith eye NFL records


By Daniel Jeremiah
Published: Dec. 14, 2012 at 01:10 p.m.


Calvin Johnson (left), Adrian Peterson (middle) and Aldon Smith are all trying to break NFL single-season records.
The 2012 season has been filled with intriguing storylines. Peyton Manning's comeback, the fantastic play of the rookie quarterbacks and the emergence of J.J. Watt have all received a tremendous amount of attention. However, there is another plot jockeying for position in the spotlight over these final three weeks.

Three of the NFL's marquee, single-season records are in danger of being broken as we head down the stretch. Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is closing in on Eric Dickerson's rushing yardage mark, Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson is very close to surpassing Jerry Rice's receiving yardage record and San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith is within 3.5 sacks of Michael Strahan's record.

Let's take a look at each:

What's the record? Single season rushing yards
Who's the record holder? Eric Dickerson, 2,105 yards (1984)
Who's chasing the record? Adrian Peterson
What does he need to do? Peterson currently has 1,600 rushing yards. He needs to average 168.7 yards per game in order to break the record.

Peterson's final three opponents all possess top 15 rushing defenses. The St. Louis Rams are ranked third, allowing 110.3 yards per game. The Houston Texans will be the most difficult challenge. They are ranked second, allowing only 90.8 yards per game. Peterson will finish up the season against the Green Bay Packers. They are ranked 15th, allowing 116.7 yards per game. However, Peterson gashed the Packers defense for 210 yards in their first meeting this season.

Will he break the record? No. 2,000 yards is definitely attainable with this schedule but 2,105 is simply too tall a task.

What's the record? Single season receiving yards
Who's the record holder? Jerry Rice, 1,848 yards (1995)
Who's chasing the record? Calvin Johnson
What does he need to do? Johnson currently has 1,546 receiving yards. He needs to average 101 yards per game in order to break the record.

Johnson's final three opponents feature solid pass defenses. The Cardinals (fifth), Falcons (16th) and Bears (sixth) all rank in the top half of the league in fewest passing yards allowed. However, there is good news for Johnson. The Cardinals defense has nothing to play for at this point in the season and the Falcons offense will likely score a ton of points, forcing the Lions to air it out. The big challenge will come from the Bears. They held Johnson to just 34 yards in their first meeting.

Will he break the record? Yes. He only needs to average 101 yards per game in order to break the record, and he's been averaging 151.3 yards in his past six games

What's the record? Single season sack total
Who's the record holder? Michael Strahan, 22.5 (2001)
Who's chasing the record? Aldon Smith
What does he need to do? Smith currently has 19.5 sacks. He needs to record 3.5 sacks in order to break the record.

Smith will square off against two of the best pass protecting offensive lines these next next two weeks. The New England Patriots have allowed the fifth fewest sacks and the Seattle Seahawks have allowed the ninth fewest. Those will be tough challenges for Smith, but he has a very friendly foe to close out the season. The Arizona Cardinals have allowed the most sacks in the NFL and Smith already collected two sacks against them earlier this season.

Will he break the record? Yes. I'm already penciling in Smith for two sacks against the Cardinals. He only needs to combine for 1.5 sacks in these first two games to surpass the record. Smith has been on a tear lately, recording 14 sacks over his past six games.