Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson‘s single-season rushing yard record stands at 2,105. With the announcement by the NFL that effective this upcoming season, there will be 17 regular-season games, that may be the first record that gets broken as a result of the added week. While football fans are overwhelmingly excited about one more week of meaningful football, many of the current record holders in various categories have to feel unsettled about their mark withstanding the added 60 minutes in the regular season.
Dickerson’s total has stood since 1984 when he became just the second to ever rush for over 2,000 yards in a season. At that time he joined O.J. Simpson who did it in 1973. In the 37 years since Dickerson’s record-setting season, only six running backs have rushed for 2,000 yards in a season and flirted with eclipsing the mark. Most recently Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry tallied 2,027 this past season. In 2012 Adrian Peterson had the best shot at the record, ultimately falling just nine yards short of becoming the record holder. The likelihood of this mark falling this year is high, but by who is the question.
Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
The Titans running back is the most likely candidate, given what he has done the last two seasons. The back-to-back NFL rushing champion, missed the record last season by just 79 yards. With the consistency that he eclipses the 100-yard mark in a game, combined with the Titans offensive scheme, one more game would easily give him the inside track on becoming the new single-season record holder. The downside is if opposing defenses can finally figure out how to effectively stop the Henry Express.
Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings running back injury issues of seasons past had many doubting his durability. He proved last season that if he can stay healthy through a whole season, the sky’s the limit. For three-quarters of the season, Cook and Henry were leapfrogging each other for the league lead in rushing yards week to week and game to game. The only thing standing in his way of reaching the mark is the offense that they run in Minnesota that is evenly divided between running and passing.
Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
Injuries plagued the Panthers running back last season, which all but derailed his team’s season as they tried to find a new identity without him. If he can stay healthy he is still undoubtedly one of the top handful of running backs in the league. The reason that he won’t challenge the rushing record is that he’s equally effective on the passing game which takes some of his carries away. He would be the more likely candidate to break Darren Sproles‘ mark of 2,646 all-purpose yard record he set in 2011.
Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
Many expected the Giants running back to have a big season. After being slowed by a high ankle sprain in 2019, he was looking to mirror his rookie season. His 2020 season ended after he tore his ACL in Week 2. All indications are that he will be 100 percent for the start of the season. The team limiting his carries early in the season along with him also being a factor in the passing game will keep him from attaining the record.
Whether it’s one of the four or someone else, or whether it happens this upcoming season or not, Dickerson’s record is definitely in jeopardy in the near future.
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