The biggest NFL records that could be broken in 2018

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Brees gifts new prosthesis to high school QB (0:41)

Saints star Drew Brees surprises Alex Ruiz with his first walking prosthetic. The high school quarterback's right leg was amputated below the knee in February due to a football injury. (0:41)

METAIRIE, La. -- Drew Brees said he wants to take this season one day, one week, one game at a time -- and he wants to save the career reflections for sometime down the road.

But the New Orleans Saints quarterback knows he won't be able to escape the attention as he approaches the NFL's career passing yardage record, which he should eclipse at some point in October.

"Well, there's a reason they put Week 5 on Monday night," Brees said of the Saints' Oct. 8 home date with the Washington Redskins. "I don't think any of us are dummies."

Brees needs 1,496 passing yards to break Peyton Manning's record of 71,940, which means he'll have to average 299.2 yards over the first five games to achieve that feat in front of a prime-time national audience.

That's entirely possible considering that Brees, 39, has averaged 305.8 yards per game over the past 12 years in New Orleans. But he averaged only 270.9 yards per game last year while the Saints' offense showed more balance. So we could have some mathematical drama heading into Week 5.

Ultimately, though, Manning's record is going to crumble. And since Brees has talked about believing he can play at a high level until he is 45 years old, he might wind up shattering it.

Brees is still 51 touchdown passes shy of Manning's mark of 539. So he'll have to play at least two more years to break that one ... assuming that 40-year-old Tom Brady, who is tied with Brees for third place at 488 touchdown passes, doesn't play even longer.

"I try not to think about that," Brees said last week of his record pace. "I'm just trying to think about obviously taking care of business one day at a time. Then when the season rolls around, you take it one week, one game at a time. Eventually those things add up, they stack up, then there you are in a position to do it.

"But there's so many people that are a part of that. There's so many things that come into play with that. I'd rather reflect on that stuff down the road."

Brees, however, has shared a story in the past about how he used to marvel at the same kind of numbers he has been putting up throughout his historic 17-year career with the Saints and Chargers.

The first preseason game he ever played in 2001 was at Miami. Brees remembered looking up at the Dolphins' ring of honor and seeing a list of Dan Marino's career achievements.

"And you're sitting there going, 'How in the world do you play long enough or have the ability to do that?'" Brees recalled.

Now he knows.

Here are a few more historic achievements that could happen during the 2018 NFL season, according to ESPN Stats & Information.


Vinatieri on verge of scoring record

Another all-time great should put an exclamation point on his Hall of Fame résumé this year. Kicker Adam Vinatieri needs 58 points to break Morten Andersen's NFL record of 2,544 career points.

Vinatieri, 45, should accomplish the feat around midseason, since he has averaged 111 points per season when healthy during his remarkable 22-year career with the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots.

"A dozen years ago I thought nobody's ever coming close to that [record]," Vinatieri told Colts.com after he re-signed with the team as a free agent in February. “And the fun thing is I've never lost a love of the game. I love it as much as I did when I first got into the league. It's just a blessing to be able to play 23 years. And so if that record happens -- it better -- but if it does, I'm going to be jacked up and extremely happy."

It's also possible that Vinatieri could wind up breaking George Blanda's record as the oldest player to ever play in the NFL (48 years, 109 days). But Vinatieri told reporters he's "less concerned about that one" for now.

"I'm not putting anything out of reach," Vinatieri said in February. "I'm not looking and saying, 'No way.' I just want to help our team be as productive as possible this year and if everything works out well, we'll be having this conversation again next year."

Fitzgerald in rare air

Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald needs 92 catches to pass Tony Gonzalez (1,325) for second-most in NFL history and 390 receiving yards to pass Terrell Owens (15,934) for second.

Although Fitzgerald will be 35 years old when the season kicks off, there is no reason to doubt him. He has at least 107 receptions and 1,023 yards in each of the past three seasons, giving him 1,234 and 15,545 over his stellar 14-year career.

He still needs a telescope to see Jerry Rice, who ranks No. 1 on both lists with 1,549 career receptions and a ridiculous 22,895 receiving yards.

Other milestones worth noting:

  • Miami Dolphins running back Frank Gore (14,026 career rushing yards) needs just 76 more to pass Hall of Famer Curtis Martin for fourth place. Gore also needs five touchdowns to become the 25th player in NFL history with 100.

  • Free-agent running back Adrian Peterson (12,276 career rushing yards) needs 37 more to move past Hall of Famer Jim Brown for 10th.

  • Brady (66,159 career passing yards) needs 3,841 more to join Manning, Brett Favre and Brees in the 70,000-yard club.

  • Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (38,502 career passing yards) needs 1,498 to become the 20th player in NFL history with 40,000.

  • Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown already has the longest streak in NFL history with five straight seasons of at least 100 catches and 1,000 receiving yards, which he’ll look to extend.

  • Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers (154.5 career sacks) needs six more to pass Hall of Famer Kevin Greene for third-most in NFL history.