The NFL Week 18 storylines will be dominated by the teams making or missing the Playoffs and seeding, but there will also be multiple records broken and many more players who will move up the record boards for single-season records at the league and franchise level.
For example, CJ Stroud already became only the fifth rookie to ever throw for 4,000 yards in a rookie season. Puka Nacua is four catches away and 28 yards from breaking the NFL rookie records in catches and receiving yards.
Neither of those records are broken if there isn’t an NFL Week 18. College Football isn’t far behind, either. Next year, with the expanded Playoff, a team may play as many as 17 games. In college, unlike the NFL, records are normally counted as an entire season opposed to regular season, so for this article, it will be referenced as such. Records will be shattering all over the place.
Is it really fair to count statistics for records in the NFL Week 18? What are the pros and cons? Let’s dive in.
History of Expanding a Season
Historically, leagues haven’t changed the amount of games that are played. The MLB and NBA have both been at their 162 and 82 set amount of games since the 1960’s. The NHL has been at 82 since 1996. College Football has been at 12 regular season games since 2006,
In other words, change hasn’t happened much.
The NFL is in its third season of playing 17 regualry season games with the addition of the NFL Week 18. Next year, college football will have teams play up to 17 games (or even 18 if they play Hawaii on the road). With these changes, records are going to break in an unprecedented way.
Just as an example, the all-time passing record in college in a single season is 5,967 yards by Bailey Zappe out of Western Kentucky. He did that in 14 games, or an average of 426 passing yards per game. To break that record, a quarterback who plays 17 games only needs to pass 351 yards per game. 44 QB’s in history have averaged more than 351 yards per game. In other words, it may not be long until Zappe’s record is buried in the record books.
Records That May Be Broken in NFL Week 18
There are four NFL records that could realistically be broken tomorrow during NFL Week 18.
- Puka Nacua could break two records: Receiving yards and Receptions by a rookie.
- Brandon Aubry needs three field goals to break the NFL season record in made field goals.
- Jalen Hurts/Josh Allen can each both break the NFL record of having 15 rushing touchdowns as a QB.
- Sam Porta needs one catch to break the rookie reception record.
- David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs can be the first running back tandem to finish a season with 1,000 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.
These records do not include franchise records, which can be done by dozens of players across the league. It also doesn’t count making Top 5/10 all-time boards, such as CJ Stroud already becoming fourth all-time in rookie passing yards.
Should Record Tracking Change With NFL Week 18?
Unless an athlete is named Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth, Tom Brady, or a small number of other generational players, the only way that a player is remembered long-term is by holding records. But with college’s expanded playoff and NFL Week 18, in less than a decade, most records will be broken, and many Top 5 lists will consist of players primarily from the same time period.
Is there a way to fix this? Yes, there are two ways to do it.
- Focus and only talk about per/game stats. As fans and media, we obsess the overall numbers so much more than the per-game averages. But if we change how it is viewed, Bailey Zappe’s passing record may stand for much longer than it will than if we give it to the first player who plays 17 games and throws for nearly 75 yards per game less.
- Stop counting statistics after the ‘traditional’ season ends. It isn’t the fault of any NFL player who played before 2021, or any college player who played prior to 2024 that they didn’t get to play in an NFL Week 18 or expanded College Football Playoff. Drawing a line at 16 games for the NFL and 15 for college would keep the playing field level for past players.
Of the two possibilities, the first option makes the most logical sense, but it will take the most work from the media and fans to accept. The bottom line is that players shouldn’t be penalized for the era that they played in.
What do you think? Is it fair to count NFL Week 18 statistics towards regular season records? What would you change or do about it? Drop a comment and we’ll respond!