The 2023 NFL
regular season is coming to an end, and as the spotlight turns to the upcoming playoffs and the teams striving to qualify, there’s also a lot on the line for individual players in their pursuit of Super Bowl success.
including one particularly notable one that wouldn’t even require an asterisk considering the current 17-game season.
Here are 10 milestones that could fall before the final snap of Week 18:
1. The highest passer rating achievement
Brock Purdy, the young quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, has demonstrated remarkable efficiency throughout his brief career. In 2023, he leads the league with an impressive 119.0 passer rating, making him a standout player in NFL history. Purdy has achieved a rating above 130.0 in six games this season, and if he continues on this trajectory, he will reach unprecedented territory. If he manages to surpass 122.5, he will surpass the 12-year-old standard set by Aaron Rodgers and prove his undeniable impact on the game.
2. Highest number of sacks.
Two years have passed since Pittsburgh Steelers star T.J. Watt equaled Michael Strahan’s sack record. Watt currently leads the league with 16 sacks, while other top pass rushers like Danielle Hunter, Khalil Mack, and Trey Hendrickson have at least 15. Achieving 23 sacks will be a considerable challenge for any of them, but few stats come as frequently as sacks. Watt has an impressive 26 multi-sack games in his career, including five this season. Hendrickson is also on a hot streak, with 6.5 sacks in his last five games, and Mack has racked up 22 career-multi-sack games. There is a clear opportunity for one, or even multiple, of these talented QB hunters to make their mark.
3. Frequently terminated
It’s possible that the Washington Commanders will protect second-year QB Sam Howell from enduring the necessary pressure to break David Carr’s 21-year-old record of being sacked 76 times. Although Howell has been taken down 59 times, it would be a significant challenge for him to endure an average of six sacks over the final three weeks of the season.However, it’s important to mention that this season he has been sacked six times on at least three occasions and five times on three other occasions. Moreover, Washington will face three formidable defensive teams in their upcoming games against the New York Jets, 49ers, and Dallas Cowboys. So, it seems like Sam won’t be enjoying a very happy holiday season.
4. Rookie with the most passing yards
Just when it seemed impossible, C.J. Stroud from the Houston Texans was on the brink of achieving an unprecedented feat in the Super Bowl era. He was about to become the first rookie since 1966 to lead the league in passing yardsHowever, he faced a significant setback with a 91-yard performance against the Jets’ formidable pass defense, and to make matters worse, he sustained a concussion after the game was already decided. As a result, Stroud was sidelined in Week 15 and his availability for the upcoming game against the top-ranked defense of the Cleveland Browns on Sunday is uncertain. With only 3,631 yards, Stroud still needs 744 more to surpass the recordof 11-year-old standard (4,374), set by Andrew Luck.
5. The rookie with the highest number of receptions.
Puka Nacua of the Rams has transformed from an overlooked fifth-round pick to being just nine catches away from surpassing Jaylen Waddle’s two-year-old record (104), following his impressive nine receptions in Thursday night’s triumphant game.
6. Record-breaking rookie receiving yards
Nacua’s opportunity appeared limited with the return of the now-healthy Cooper Kupp, who is sharing more targets. However, Nacua surprised everyone by delivering a remarkable performance of 164 yards on Thursday. Nacua needs to achieve a total of 147 yards in the last two games in order to surpass Bill Groman’s freshman record of 1,473 yards, set in the American Football League in 1960. Notably, since 2020, both Justin Jefferson of the Vikings (1,400 yards in 2020) and JA’Mary Chase of the Bengals (1,455 in 2021) have raised the bar during the Super Bowl era. With 1,327 yards and six games reaching the century mark, Nacua is in a strong position to break the record.
7. Record-setting debut for a rookie tight end
While Nacua faces some challenges, Sam LaPorta’s journey is even more formidable. However, LaPorta has an opportunity to surpass the legendary Mike Ditka’s record of 1,076 receiving yards in 1961 by adding 319 more yards. Achieving this milestone would place LaPorta alongside Ditka and the Atlanta Falcons’ Kyle Pitts (2021) as the only rookie tight ends to reach 1,000 receiving yards.
8. Record-breaking rookie tight end receptions
LaPorta, the second-highest receiver in Detroit, is poised to achieve this milestone. With 71 receptions under his belt, he only needs 11 more to surpass Keith Jackson’s record that has stood for 35 years.
9.The highest number of defensive touchdowns
This season, DaRon Bland from the Cowboys has already made history by returning five out of his league-leading eight interceptions for touchdowns. If he manages to cross the end zone one more time, he will surpass the legendary Ken Houston’s record from 1971 for the most defensive touchdowns in a single season. Houston had four pick-sixes and also returned a fumble for a score.
10. Player with the most receiving yards.
This promises to be an exciting chase to watch, particularly now that Miami Dolphins WR Tyreek Hill is sidelined with an ankle injury, adding a more dramatic element to the scenario.With a total of 1,542 yards, “Cheetah” is aiming to become the league’s first 2,000-yard receiver in just 16 games. To achieve this feat, he will need to maintain an average of 152.7 yards per game. However, if he wants to surpass the record set by Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson, who came close to reaching 2K with 1,964 yards in 2012, Hill only needs to achieve a slightly more modest average of 141 yards per week. In six games this year, Hill has already surpassed 146 yards – an impressive feat. In fact, five of those games saw him exceed 150 yards. As the Fins battle for the AFC East crown and potentially home-field advantage, Hill’s performance becomes crucial. To secure a much-needed week off once the playoffs commence, he might have to deliver a remarkable performance in the final stretch.