Published On: Tue, Aug 30th, 2016

Record Watch: Which all-time marks could fall in 2016?

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Records are made to be broken.

Whether it’s a career achievement or a single-season feat, a number of players and coaches enter the 2016 campaign well-positioned to challenge some of the NFL’s all-time marks.

Here’s a look at those who could make history in 2016.

Career Records

Cam Newton – Rushing TDs by QB

Well, that was quick. If you didn’t already consider Newton to be one of the most dynamic talents in NFL history, now’s the time to re-evaluate that stance. The Carolina Panthers’ star signal-caller is one rushing touchdown away from passing Steve Young for the most by a quarterback. Newton could easily come away with his 44th such score in the Thursday night opener, and it would be no surprise if he went on to set a near-unbreakable record in this department. Young set his mark across 15 seasons; Newton’s heading into the sixth year of his career.

Bill Belichick – Playoff games

Belichick already owns the record for most playoff wins. What’s most impressive about that accomplishment, set en route to the Patriots’ most recent Super Bowl title, is that he passed Tom Landry’s mark of 20 in three fewer games. Having appeared in a total of 33 playoff contests as a head coach, Belichick now needs another four postseason tilts to pass Landry for most all-time. New England’s propensity to earn a first-round bye would typically make this a two-year venture, but Tom Brady’s four-game suspension might force the team to take the long journey on another deep run.

Antonio Gates – TD receptions by a TE

Not bad for a former undrafted free agent. Gates finds himself eight touchdowns shy of Tony Gonzalez’s all-time record for tight ends as he heads into his 14th NFL season. The 36-year-old is on the downside of his career, but breaking this record is a realistic possibility if he avoids injury. He’ll once again be a top red-zone target for Philip Rivers as part of a sneaky-strong San Diego Chargers passing game.

J.J. Watt – Defensive Player of the Year awards

Lawrence Taylor earned his third DPOY award in 1986, and that record stood until Watt tied it last season. Earning the highest defensive honor four times in a five-year span would be borderline ridiculous, but can we really rule anything out for Watt at this point? He’s far and away the most dominant defender in the game today, and possibly the NFL’s most talented player overall.

Jeff Fisher – Regular-season losses

This isn’t the most desirable distinction, but oversee non-playoff teams for long enough and you can really pile up the losses. Fisher is just nine losses shy of tying Dan Reeves’ all-time record for regular-season defeats. Finishing the 2016 campaign at 6-10 – which seems easily attainable with the Rams’ still-underwhelming offense – would give him sole possession of the top (bottom?) spot. Then again, Fisher’s history of .500 teams, regardless of expectations, means this one might have to wait until 2017. We all know he’s not going anywhere regardless.

Single-season contenders

Antonio Brown – Receptions, receiving yards

Brown’s average production in 12 games with Ben Roethlisberger under center last year would have shattered records for receptions and receiving yards as a season-long pace. An increase in targets with Martavis Bryant suspended, provided Roethlisberger stays healthy, should have Brown poised to challenge both records. Marvin Harrison has the most receptions with 143, while Calvin Johnson owns the yardage mark with 1,964. How does 150 catches for 2,000 yards sound for Brown?

J.J. Watt – Sacks

Watt’s fallen two sacks short of Michael Strahan’s single-season record twice, finishing with 20.5 in 2012 and 2014. An improved supporting cast could help him get over that hump this year. Jadeveon Clowney is developing into a force on the edge, and Whitney Mercilus is coming off a breakout season of his own. Watt will continue to make easy work of interior linemen while a suddenly dangerous Texans offense creates more situations that force opponents to throw.

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