There are certain things we expect to see every NFL season; someone is going to rise, someone else is going to fall, someone is going to come out of nowhere and shine, and someone is going to do something incredibly stupid and get in a lot of trouble.
What we don’t expect to see are a lot of records falling, but if three guys have their way in the final three games we could see three of the most challenging single season records broken by time the regular season ends-- receiving yards (1,848), rushing yards (2,105), and sacks (22.5).
Calvin Johnson - Single Season Receiving Record
Ever since Calvin Johnson came into the league back in 2007 he has been one of the best wide receivers in football, often in spite of who lined up at quarterback for the Lions. However, ever since the team has had Mathew Stafford throwing to him his production has been on par with league leaders if it wasn't setting the standard (when healthy that is).
This year—in the face of the Madden Curse—he’s had trouble finding the end zone, but he has been racking up yards at a record pace. Through Sunday’s game against Indianapolis he has pulled in 96 balls for 1546 yards; an average of 118.9 yards a game.
That puts him on pace to break Jerry Rice’s record of 1848 during the last game of the season, but if you look at his last six games where he averaged over 150 yards, he could break it in Week 16. That will leave 2,000 yards in sight when the Lions face off against Chicago in the final week of the regular season.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is going to have a tougher time breaking the single season rushing record. After returning from knee surgery there were many that thought he would see a reduction in carries to protect his knee; with a beast like Toby Gerhart on the roster that made sense.
Since Week Seven the show has clearly been all AP’s. Over the last eight weeks he has averaged 157 yards a game bringing his season total to 1,600 yards-- with three games to go!
At his current rate he would fall just short of Eric Dickerson’s record (by 34 yards). With the No. 2 rushing defense in Houston and the No. 13 (St. Louis) and No. 15 (Green Bay) left he is going to have his work cut out for him.
Aldon Smith - Single Season Sack Record
That leaves linebacker Aldon Smith of the San Francisco 49ers. Of the three, he probably has the best chance of breaking his target record. Five times this season he has recorded multiple sacks in a single game including a 5.5 sack game against Chicago in Week 11.
The schedule he has in front of him couldn't be much better for his purposes. New England will be the toughest of the three; the Patriots have allowed just 20 sacks in 13 games. Seattle will not exactly be easy (24 in 13 games), but if he doesn't get 3.5 by then he should have no trouble breaking Michael Strahan’s record in San Francisco’s final regular season game (unless he gets rested and sits). The 49ers play the woeful Arizona Cardinals who are giving up just under four sacks a game (51 to date).