Expanded season puts records in jeopardy

Los Angeles Rams v Houston Oilers
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When the NFL last expanded the regular season in 1978, the bump from 14 to 16 games represented 14.28-percent growth. The move from 16 to 17 now equates to a 6.25-percent increase in the games that count.

Relative to the last time, then, the current addition of one game won’t mean as much to issues like season-long records. Still, it’s worth taking a quick look at some of the most significant single-season marks, along with the average performance that will now be needed to set a new standard.

Eric Dickerson set the single-season rushing record with the Rams in 1984. With 2,105 yards, he averaged 131.56 yards per game. (O.J. Simpson had set the previous record in 1973, with 2,003 yards in 14 games — an average of 143.07 yards per game.) To beat Dickerson with a 17-game season, an average of 123.88 yards per game will be needed.

In 2013, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning set the single-season passing yardage record, at 5,477. That’s an average of 342.3 yards per game. To beat Manning record in 17 games, a quarterback needs to average 322.23 yards.

The prior year, Lions receiver Calvin Johnson established the single-season receiving yardage record, with 1,964. That’s 122.75 per game. An average of 115.58 will be needed to beat it in 17 games.

Saints receiver Michael Thomas, in 2019, set the single-season reception record with 149, or 9.31 per game. With an extra game, an average of 8.82 gets a pass-catcher to 150.

Manning’s passing touchdown record of 55, also from 2013, works out to 3.43 per game. To get to 56, a quarterback must average 3.29 per game.

The extra game also will make it a little easier to break the single-season touchdown record of 31 (LaDainian Tomlinson, 2006), 22.5 sacks (Michael Strahan, 2001), and 14 interceptions (Night Train Lane, 1952). (Lane, by the way, picked off 14 passes in a 12-game season.)

Of course, it’s just a matter of time before 17 games becomes 18. At that point, the average performance needed to break the various records will get even lower.

82 responses to “Expanded season puts records in jeopardy

  1. It stands to reason that the true measure of a record is the per game average.

  2. I don’t think the NFL cares about those records as long as their profits continue to increase.

  3. Of course it will, records, health, and it gives the Cowboys another week to make the playoffs.

    Does this also mean everyone on the roster can be active?
    No point having healthy in-actives.

  4. There is one record that will be almost impossible to break even with the expanded season and that’s the most regular season games won by a Quarterback. Brady owns that record with 230 wins and counting.Manning is at second with 189 wins

  5. Comparing records is pretty much meaningless. You can compare certain records from within the same era, but so many rules have changed, and the way the games are officiated have completely changed.

  6. Does it matter? The rules have changed so much that the game played now is nothing like it was even in the 90s and they played 16 games. Almost every top 10 passer played post 2000. Joe Flacco being in the top 20 should tell you everything you need to know about offensive stats in football. In 1978 not only did they expand the season but there was a slew of rule changes that where far more important. OL could use their hands, before it was hands tucked in using your shoulder and elbow. Using your hands at all was holding.

  7. Easy solution. Convert records to per game stats. That way it doesn’t matter how many games are played in a season.

  8. And everyone on this site will watch every game. Quit wining about the owners making more money, hypocrites.

  9. Perhaps the NFL should return to a TEN GAME SEASON, 1943-45, so that all the records could be equalized.

    Better yet, change the records to be on the basis of SEASON/GAMES. By the way, OJ Simpson still holds the rushing record of 143.1 yards per-season/games; Jim Brown has 133.1 yards per-season/games; Eric Dickerson has 131.6 YSG. Those are the top three RB giants.

  10. May as well start a new record book and a new standard. Now you only 58 rushing yards per game to get a 1,000 yards for the season. That’s nothing.

  11. Eyes don’t lie. Jim brown, jerry Rice, Tom Brady, 1985 Bears Defense and Morton Anderson. All the best ever.

  12. All records are always in jeopardy.

    Johnny Unitas never played 16 game seasons, yet everyone acknowledges and remembers him as one of the best QBs ever. Imagine Peyton Manning sweating his legacy because now there’s 17 games rather than 16.

  13. Real fans don’t watch football for the stats and records. Most of us actually just likes the GAME of football.

  14. Hey! The 17 game season may finally save the 2008 Lions and the 2017 Browns from their 0-16 walk of shame.
    Who’s going to be game?

  15. Cap records at 16 games. Also, I’d say most records outside of WR won’t be broken. Time to expand to 60-65 man roster. D. Smith is a plebe. Will probably get hired by Amazon after players union fires him

  16. Terrible. Oh wait we will never have to see Emmit Smiths padded fluff of of stats.

  17. 14 picks in 12 games, at a time when throwing was far more rare. That’s as impressive as any record in the NFL, in my opinion

  18. Being honest, the NFL is pretty much has reset the standards already when they changed rules and made it a more pass-centric league.

    I think this would actually help in breaking some of that off, there will be a clear line of demarcation where the old Era and new Era is. Some Hall of Fame worthy guys are getting (*not purposely*) docked for numbers before they were official stats, like o lineman, and wrs etc. I think this is a good thing, making it much easier for all you different analytical media types to , you know banter about qb wins, and ypa

  19. Some day somebody will wake up and put a simple * over season records based on games played and just separate it out. It’s really not that hard. Jim Brown is still a G.O.A.T at R.B.

  20. It’s already a problem because of rule changes. For example, passing records today mean nothing because DBs can’t cover like they could more than 20 years ago. Nowadays QBs pass for 5k yards frequently… it was an anomaly back in the days where defense was allowed.

  21. It seems like most of the offensive records have been set in the last twenty years and it seems as if most of the players on the top ten or top twenty-five lists of various offensive categories are from the last twenty years. The fact is, that changing rules and evolution of the game will put records to the sword more than will adding another game to the schedule.

  22. Most impressive single season records are held by Dan Marino from 1984. 48 TD passes and over 5,000 yards. He destroyed the previous records and no one that year was close to him at a time when you could still play defense. Payton Manning’s season records aren’t that much greater than what other qbs were doing that same year. The rule changes have dramatically changed how statistics should be evaluated.

  23. of course it changes things. but the same things happen when you change pass interference rules, blocking rules, and what constitutes an illegal hit on a quarterback, defenseless receiver.
    would tom Brady be able to play at his age with the rule from the early 70s?… of course not…

  24. It’s going to be hard for the raiders to achieve their 8-8 goal with a 17 game season…

  25. jazz321 says:
    March 30, 2021 at 8:53 pm
    Easy solution. Convert records to per game stats. That way it doesn’t matter how many games are played in a season.

    Yes and no. Its much harder to rush for 125 yards per game over 16 games than it is to do the same over 10 or 12 games. How many times do you hear about a player being “on pace” to break a record only to see them fall short because their performance didn’t hold up over the course of the season?

  26. I don’t care about records, the league has expanded, and there is nothing we can do about it.Everything changes.

  27. Call me a sucker, but I always feel like the NFL season goes way too quickly, much faster than baseball or basketball. I welcome a 17th game!

  28. On the flip side, a 17 game regular season means one more game played at full speed, with a body that has already endured 16 regular season games, leading to more injuries, some of them potentially career ending. Hard to make the record books when you are sidelined or looking for a new line of work.

  29. Talk to me in ten years and I’ll still recall Marino being the most talented quarterback ive seen chucking it around

  30. And it becomes harder to achieve a perfect season, now requiring the 17 wins.

  31. Regarding the 17 game season:

    Patrick Mahomes; YAH! Another week of playing football!

    Alvin Kamara; WAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!

  32. You can make 17 game season but players can only play in 16. Records stay, players dont get banged up more and teams get more out of other players on the roster.Make the whole team eligible. Teams that make PO prior to 16th week rest a lot of starters anyway. And don’t tell me the overall product would decline – I’ve been rooting for the Jaguars for the past 10 years

  33. Somewhat related, what happens to player compensation with the extra game? They ain’t playing it for free. And how about incentive laden contracts for bonuses. Do they get adjusted?


  34. Records have not mattered for years. They have changed the game so much to help the offence score, protect the flag football qb’s and receiver’s that records are meaningless.

  35. This isnt the first time that they have changed the number of regular season games.

  36. 10 SB appearance and 7 wins…..add as many games as you want….nobody is going to break those records

  37. On the flip side, a 17 game season will make it even more difficult (if not almost impossible) for a team to equal the ’72 Dolphin’s complete undefeated season.

  38. NFL records do not hold the same “magic” as baseball. 714, 755, 56, 2130 etc etc. I bet 95% of football fans can’t name the career rushing leader’s total, career receptions, passer etc etc. The NFL was NEVER a sport where records were bigger than the game. Adding one or two more games will have little to no effect on that. I am not saying this to in any way badmouth football. I am simply saying individual records just don’t seem to be as important.I bet more people can name Super Bowl winners and losers than they can for the World Series. Football seems to be a sport about teams more so than individual numbers.

  39. BuckyBadger says:
    March 30, 2021 at 8:52 pm

    Does it matter? The rules have changed so much that the game played now is nothing like it was even in the 90s and they played 16 games

    exactly, it’s even difficult to compare stats from year to year. The NFL is the only sport the makes rule changes every single year.

  40. When I read the title of this article I immediately thought of Brett Favre laying down so that Strahan could get the sack record and then saw where that record is cited presumably as some hallowed milestone. Most records are now tainted by lay-downs or garbage time runups as is a slew of ordinary players being inducted into the HOF.

  41. Passing records are meaningless these days anyway so I don’t care if the records are easier to break

  42. Check out the passing records right now and see how few guys who played prior to the 1990s/2000s are anywhere to be seen. There are Hall of Famers who played in the 70s who barely completed 50% of their passes and who averaged 15+ interceptions per season. (Terry Bradshaw won 2 Super Bowls in years where he had 20+ INTs.) It’s a totally different game today.

  43. @devilsadvocate

    It’s not impossible and it will happen eventually the ‘03-‘04 Pats won 21 straight with a Super Bowl in the middle, it just wasn’t one season. I’m pretty sure the packers at one point had a longer streak of regular season games, albeit without the Super Bowl in the middle.

  44. No different than when they went to a 16 game season or when they kept changing the rules to favor the offense and more scoring.

  45. On the other hand, the Miami Dolphins will probably remain the only unbeaten team in NFL history.

  46. Just break them out per game..

    OJ, 1973 – 143 rush yards/game
    Rice, 1987 – 22 rec tds in 12 games

    Deacon Jones claims he’d still be the all-time sack leader if that was tracked in his era. He’s probably right.

    Highly doubt anyone will top Night Train Lane’s INT record..

  47. They’ll never track stats per game. Records need to get broken to make headlines and heroes.

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