Andrew Luck, DeMarco Murray, Justin Houston and Julius Thomas are all chasing history. What are the chances one of those stars rewrites the record book in 2014?
Records are meant to be broken. Well, at least most of them are.
We’re 10 weeks into the 2014 season, which is a large enough sample size to take a look at which single-season records are most likely to fall. Most players have moved back up or down to their expected performance, giving us reasonable estimates for their end-of-season totals.
Passing Yards: 5,477 (Peyton Manning, 2013)
As teams continue to throw the ball more and more, someone will have a chance to set the new passing yardage record almost every season. This year, there are two contenders:
Current: 3,085 yards
Projected: 5,386 yards
Chance of breaking the record: 35.4%
Coming out of his bye, Luck leads the league in passing yards. He is currently on pace to break Manning’s record, but based on our projection, he’s more likely to fall short. In order to do it, he would have to average 342 passing yards per game the rest of the way.
Current: 2,912 yards
Projected: 5,300 yards
Chance of breaking the record: 23.4%
While his odds aren’t as good as Luck’s, Manning still has a solid opportunity to break his own record. Peyton will almost certainly surpass 5,000 passing yards again, but he would need to average over 366 yards per game to overtake last season’s total. Manning also leads the league in passing touchdowns at 29 and has a 1.7% chance to break his own 55-TD total from 2013.
Drew Brees is the third-most likely to take down the passing record at just 0.2%.
Rushing Yards: 2,105 (Eric Dickerson, 1984)
Recently, we’ve had a few players make a run at Dickerson’s long-standing record: Adrian Peterson in 2012 came just eight yards shy. Jamal Lewis rushed for 2,066 back in 2003. The-artist-formerly-known-as-CJ2K rushed for 2,006 back in 2009, and both Barry Sanders and Terrell Davis rushed for over 2,000 yards in 1997 and 1998 respectively.
30 years later, the record still stands.
Current: 1,233 yards
Projected: 1,871 yards
Chance of breaking the record: 2.6%
Murray leads the NFL in rushing, by a margin of 411 yards, heading into his Week 11 bye. Part of that is because he’s played more games than most backs, but he’s still currently on pace for 1,973 rushing yards. In order to break Dickerson’s record, Murray would need to average more than 145 yards per game the rest of the way. Because of this, we give him just a 2.6% chance to set the new mark. We also estimate that there is a 14.1% chance for Murray to become the eighth member of the elite 2,000-yard rushing club.
Sacks: 22.5 (Michael Strahan, 2001)
Michael Strahan’s record-setting “sack” on Brett Favre is almost as memorable as his tooth gap, but that doesn’t take away from his tremendous 2001 season. Strahan’s record has been rivaled in recent seasons. Jared Allen had 22.0 back in 2011, and J.J. Watt notched 20.5 in 2012.
Current: 12.0 sacks
Projected: 18.5 sacks
Chance of breaking the record: 3.3%
Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston has already achieved a career-high and is on pace for 21.5 sacks, just one shy of Strahan’s record. Despite his pace, we give Houston just a 3.3% chance to surpass Strahan’s record, as he would need to register 1.5 sacks per game the rest of the way. Houston only has one remaining game against one of the 20-most sacked teams in 2014 (Pittsburgh), and three remaining games against the two least-sacked teams (Oakland and Denver).
Receiving Touchdowns: 23 (Randy Moss, 2007)
Randy Moss set the mark for receiving touchdowns as part of the Patriots’ offensive explosion during their undefeated regular season in ’07. Since then, the two players to challenge the record have both been tight ends: Rob Gronkwoski and Jimmy Graham. In 2014, the league leader is once again a tight end, Julius Thomas.
Current: 12 touchdowns
Projected: 17 touchdowns
Chance of breaking the record: 2.1%
Thomas is Peyton Manning’s primary red-zone target, and he’s currently on pace for more than 21 touchdowns. Much like Houston, though, we don’t project Thomas to continue performing at such a dominant pace. Thomas would need to average 1.6 touchdowns per game to catch Moss, which gives him a measly 2.1% chance to do so.
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