In what could be the last year of a 16-game season, Titans running back Derrick Henry has a chance to join a club that already carries one asterisk, and soon could carry two.
Seven tailbacks have rushed for 2,000 yards or more in a season. The first, Bills running back O.J. Simpson, did it in 1973, when the NFL played only 14 regular-season games. Eleven years later, after the regular-season grew from 14 to 16 games, Rams running back Eric Dickerson set the single-season record, with 2,105 yards. (Simpson averaged 143 yards per game; Dickerson averaged 131.)
Thirteen years would pass until another running back got to 2,000 yards. Lions running back Barry Sanders rushed for 2,053 yards in 1997. The next year, Broncos running back Terrell Davis finished with 2,008 rushing yards.
In 2003, Ravens running back Jamal Lewis rushed for 2,066 rushing yards. In 2009, Titans running back Chris Johnson finished his second NFL season with 2,066 rushing yards.
Three years after that, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson came the closest of anyone to breaking Dickerson’s record, with 2,097 rushing yards.
Henry has 1,532 rushing yards through 13 games. He’ll become the eighth member of the 2,000-yard club (and the second Titans player to join) with 468 more yards. That’s 156 per game for three games. Given the defenses he’ll be facing (Lions, Packers, Texans), it’s not out of the question.
Also not out of the question: 191 yards per game over the final three. That would match Dickerson, and it would thrust Henry firmly into the MVP conversation.
Can he do it? It depends on how many opportunities he gets and, obviously, what he does with them.