NFL records: Sack, rushing, receiving marks could all go down

  • Updated: Dec. 20, 2012 at 01:05 p.m.

There are three single-season NFL records in danger of being broken in 2012, with two games left to play. Calvin Johnson (1,667) is chasing Jerry Rice's receiving yardage record (1,848). Adrian Peterson needs 294 rushing yards to break Eric Dickerson's 2,105-yard mark. And both Aldon Smith and J.J. Watt sit at 19.5 sacks, three away from tying Michael Strahan's benchmark of 22.5. How many of these records will end up being broken?

Only one record ultimately will be broken
Calvin Johnson is the only one who's going to break any records. Game situations dictate the Lions throw the ball a ton, and they will force it to Megatron. His yardage remaining is very manageable.

It won't be as easy for Adrian Peterson. The Vikings face two tough opponents (Houston and Green Bay) that should be able to play with the lead and limit Minnesota's time with the ball.

Smith and Watt have a shot, but I don't expect them to break the sack record. Both players have one tasty matchup left (Watt vs. Colts, Smith vs. Cardinals), but each player also has a matchup against an opponent that doesn't throw the ball much (Watt vs. Minnesota, Smith vs. Seattle.)
Three-for-three: Smith, Peterson and Johnson will set new marks
Watt and Smith will break the sack record and take it to a new level. I like Aldon Smith to finish with the most in the NFL and, with Arizona still on deck, he could surpass the 25-sack mark.

Although it seems like a reach with Houston and Green Bay on the schedule, I still expect Adrian Peterson to surpass Eric Dickerson's record. He's hitting home runs like McGwire, and I certainly won't doubt him.

And Johnson is basically a foregone conclusion, needing just 91 yards per game to surpass Rice. He'll get it done.

Sack record might be the toughest to break
Calvin Johnson is less than 200 yards away and is playing Atlanta and Chicago at home. I think the Lions, with nothing else to play for, will feed him the ball to break the record.

Adrian Peterson has much more work to do. The key game will be playing Green Bay at home in Week 17. The Packers do not have a strong run defense. Peterson is on a mission and playing at such a high level, I think he gets the record.

The sack record will be the hardest to break because it is in no way tied to play-calling. Offensive players have the advantage over defensive players because of that. The key game is Week 17 for both Watt (Colts) and Smith (Cards). Both of those offensive lines are suspect, but I think they both will get their 3.5 sacks to do it.

Broken down by probability, two new records should be set
Johnson is going to take down Rice's mark. It's the most likely of things to happen. He needs less than 200 over the final two weeks. He can even afford to have a pedestrian-like 75-yard game one week and still break the record. There's simply no place else for Detroit to go with the football, and out of playoff contention, they'll be sure to make it happen. Probability: 90 percent.

Not only do I think the sack mark will fall, but I hope it does. And I hope it falls without a quarterback going down to give a friend a record. Getting 3.5 is doable, but it's not a certainty. Smith has been pretty consistent sack-wise over the past eight weeks -- Sunday against New England was the first time he didn't get to the QB in a game since mid-October -- and Watt has been getting them in bunches. That's the thing about sacks, they're not as predictable as other things. While this isn't quite McGwire and Sosa challenging Maris, it's going to be close, but at least one of them will break Strahan's record. Probability: 70 percent.

Peterson is in a bit of a tough spot. He needs almost 150 yards in each of his final two games. Unlike Johnson, he can't afford to have a sub-par game. More importantly, his team is in the playoff hunt, and with matchups at Houston and against Green Bay to close the season, that's a tough road. If Minnesota gets down in either game, they'll have to throw, minimizing Peterson's impact. The Texans are fifth against the run this season so even as superhuman as All Day is, I'm not sold on this record is being broken. Probability: 20 percent.