Three Players closing in on Single Season NFL records

The 2012 NFL season has just three weeks of the regular season left to play. The season has seen the successful return of Peyton Manning to the playing field, the return of the NFL referees to the playing field and some excellent individual performances from players on both offense and defense.

Not only has Manning’s return been refreshing and inspiring for the game, but also there have been a number of rookie quarterbacks who have played as if they were savvy veterans along with a number of other storylines.

After thirteen of the 16 games have been played, three players have a chance of breaking single season records for receiving, rushing and sacks.

Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings is nearing the single season rushing yardage record set by Eric Dickerson, Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions is close to surpassing the receiving yardage mark of Jerry Rice and Aldon Smith a linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers is just a couple of sacks away from Michael Strahan’s season record.

Peterson has rushed this season for 1,600 yards and is only 505 yards short of Dickerson’s record of 2,105 that was set in 1984. Peterson would need to average over 168 yards in each of his three remaining games and he is facing rushing defenses that are in the top 15 in the league.

Peterson will face St. Louis, Houston and Green Bay. The Rams have a ranking of no. 13, the Texans no. 2 and the Packers no. 15. Peterson has already faced Green Bay once this season and ran for 210 yards in that game.

Johnson currently is sitting on 1,546 receiving yards and the record set by Rice in 1995 is 1,848. Johnson must average a minimum of 101 yards in each of his three remaining games to break Rice’s record. Johnson will face the Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons and Chicago Bears in Detroit’s last three games. Arizona is ranked fifth league in passing, Atlanta is 16th and Chicago is sixth.

What might help Johnson is the Cardinals are out of the playoff race and might not make the effort they would if fighting for a playoff berth. In Atlanta, the score should be high and the Lions will have to air the ball out in order to stay close. Chicago is the only team of the three that Johnson faced earlier this season and he was held to just 34 yards.

Smith has 19.5 sacks thus far and is just 3.0 sacks away from tying Michael Strahan’s record of 22.5 and just 3.5 sacks away from breaking the record. Strahan set his record in 2001.

Smith’s last three opponents are the New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals. New England is ranked fifth in the league in pass protection, Seattle ninth, but Arizona is 32nd. The Cardinals have allowed more sacks this season than any other team. Earlier this season, Smith had two sacks versus the Cardinals.

Both Johnson and Smith should set new single season records in receiving yardage and sacks respectively. However, it will be difficult for Peterson to reach Dickerson’s record even though he might reach 2,000 yards.

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