5 single-season NFL records that could be broken during 2021-22 originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
With the 2021 NFL regular season in the home stretch, we’re officially on record watch.
The extra game added to each team’s schedule was going to give players a bigger opportunity to put forth record-breaking performances, and a few have taken advantage in the inaugural 17-game campaign.
While some single-season records should be safe, like Peyton Manning's passing yards and TDs marks, others are in danger.
As the league enters Week 14, here are five records that could be broken before the end of the regular season:
Most receiving yards in NFL season: 1,946 -- Calvin Johnson
Calvin Johnson was catching passes from Matthew Stafford on the Detroit Lions when the Hall of Fame wideout shattered Jerry Rice’s receiving yards record (1,848 yards) with 1,946 yards in 2012. Nine seasons later, Stafford has the chance to help a wide receiver break the record again.
It didn’t take long for Stafford to form an elite duo with Los Angeles Rams wideout Cooper Kupp in Stafford's first season in LA.
Kupp, who is in the midst of a historic season, leads the NFL in receptions (100), receiving yards (1,366) and touchdowns (11). All three categories are career highs for the fifth-year wideout.
Kupp is averaging over 113 receiving yards per game and, if he continues on that pace he’ll finish with 1,935 yards -- just 11 shy of Johnson's record. But remaining matchups against the Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens, all of whom boast a bottom-10 passing defense, could give Kupp an extra boost in his record-breaking efforts.
Most receptions in NFL season: 149 -- Michael Thomas
The receiving yards mark isn’t the only record Kupp is chasing down.
The Rams wide receiver is 50 receptions away from passing New Orleans Saints wideout Michael Thomas who recorded of 149 catches in 2019. However, this one will be a little tougher for Kupp. He would need to average 10 receptions per game to finish the season, and he’s reached double digits in catches just three times this year.
What may hurt Kupp’s chances in breaking either of these records is the Rams’ playoff standing. Los Angeles may be locked into the No. 5 seed by the time Week 18 rolls around, which could lead head coach Sean McVay to rest Kupp and other key Rams players for the regular-season finale versus the San Francisco 49ers.
Most interceptions in NFL season: 14 -- Dick Lane
The longest-standing record on this list, former Rams cornerback Dick "Night Train" Lane picked off 14 passes as a rookie in 1952, breaking the previous high mark of 13 set by Washington’s Dan Sandifer in 1948 (which, coincidentally, was Sandifer’s rookie season as well). The closest anyone has come to at least matching Lane’s record since was Lester Hayes, who made 13 interceptions with the Oakland Raiders in 1980.
But Dallas Cowboys corner Trevon Diggs is making a serious run at it in 2021. Diggs began his second NFL season with at least one interception in each of Dallas’ first six games. The longest Diggs has gone without a pick is two games, and he’s up to nine total through 12 games. The Alabama product has to average one interception per game the rest of the way to at least match Lane’s tally of 14.
Working in Diggs’ favor is he still has some interception-prone quarterbacks remaining on the schedule. Dallas closes the season against Washington’s Taylor Heinicke (who’s thrown 11 interceptions in 12 games), New York’s Daniel Jones (seven interceptions in 11 games), Arizona’s Kyler Murray (seven interceptions in nine games), Heinicke again and Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts (eight interceptions in 11 games).
Most sacks: 22.5 -- Michael Strahan
A couple of players have come within one sack of breaking Giants legend Michael Strahan’s record of 22.5, which he set in 2001. Jared Allen racked up 22 sacks as a member of the Minnesota Vikings 2011, and Justin Houston reached the same number with the Kansas City Chiefs three seasons later.
Despite missing two games this season, Pittsburgh Steelers star T.J. Watt looks primed to do what Allen and Houston couldn’t and reach that elusive 23-sack mark. Watt has amassed a career-high 16 sacks in 10 games played. After a 3.5-sack performance in Pittsburgh's Week 13 victory over Baltimore, the fifth-year defensive end is now on pace to finish with a record-breaking 24 sacks.
Watt, who has failed to record at least one sack just twice in 2021, will need seven quarterback takedowns over the final five weeks to surpass Strahan. You especially have to like Watt’s chances when you consider three of the signal callers he’s set to face are among the top six in sacks taken this year -- Lamar Jackson (36 sacks taken), Ryan Tannehill (33) and Baker Mayfield (29).
Most field goals made in NFL season: 44 -- David Akers
Who doesn't love some kicker drama? Two-time All-Pro David Akers made 44 field goals in his age-37 season with the 49ers in 2011, breaking Neil Rackers' record of 40. Akers and Rackers are the only kickers to ever reach the 40-field goal mark, but it looks like they're going to get some company this year.
After impressively making two field goals amid crazy weather conditions in the New England Patriots' road win over the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football, veteran Nick Folk has connected on a career-best 33 of his 35 field goal attempts through 13 games.
Folk, who's in his age-37 season, should challenge Akers' record, as he's on pace to finish with roughly 43 field goals.