The new NFL campaign is currently well underway, and contenders for the Lombardi this season are emerging from the rest of the pack. The reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs have put an opening day defeat against the Detroit Lions behind them by reeling off five consecutive victories and remain on course to claim a spot in their sixth consecutive AFC Championship game. Over in the NFC, both the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers remain the teams to beat, racking up 5-1 records however, both sides did suffer defeat on game week six.
It goes without saying that if you have the league’s stats leaders on your roster, you have a great chance of becoming champions. That much is obvious. At present, Tua Tagovailoa leads the league in terms of throwing yards, Christian McCaffrey leads the rushing standings and Tyreek Hill leads in terms of receptions. The former and latter of those three both play for the Miami Dolphins, could that mean that a successful season is on the cards at Hard Rock Stadium this term?
While those three leads the charts in 2023, who has topped the charts in recent years, and have their teams gone on to Super Bowl glory? Let’s take a look.
Last season, Patrick Mahomes reigned supreme with an impressive 5,250 passing yards. His performances saw him win the league’s MVP award as well as leading the Kansas City Chiefs to a second Super Bowl triumph in four seasons, a game in which the former Texas Tech standout would also be awarded MVP honors.
Josh Jacobs of the Las Vegas Raiders proved to be the king of the running game, amassing 1,653 rushing yards. Finally, Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings led in receiving yards with a whopping 1,809 yards, showcasing his outstanding route running, dependable hands, and brilliant link-up play with quarterback Kirk Cousins.
The 2021 season was a memorable one for Tom Brady, who surpassed his contemporaries in style by throwing over 5,000 yards at the ripe old age of 44. That wasn’t enough for him to secure a spot in the Super Bowl however, with his Tampa Bay Buccanneers being eliminated by the eventual champion Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Who was the star of the show for said Rams? None other than wide receiver Cooper Kupp.
He recorded a monstrous 1,947 receiving yards to top the charts and became a go-to target for quarterback Matthew Stafford as the Rams lifted the Lombardi for the second time in franchise history, and they did so on home turf at SoFi Stadium.
Kupp was also given MVP honors in the Big Game for his last-gasp touchdown which eventually downed a game Cincinnati Bengals side 23-20. Jonathan Taylor led the league in rushing with 1,811 yards, gaining over 27 touchdowns and becoming the Colts’ first 1,000-yard back since 2017.
In 2020, global events didn’t stop the NFL, and it certainly didn’t stop Deshaun Watson. He led the league in terms of throwing yards, racking up a mighty 4,823 of them for the lowly Houston Texans, who didn’t even make the playoffs. It also didn’t stop for one lucky punter, who raked in one of the biggest NFL parlays of all time when they cashed a mighty $97,212 from a stake of just over $250.
They may well have relied on Derrick Henry as part of the monstrous bet. The Tennessee Titans man led the rushing game with an impressive 2,027 yards, becoming just the eighth player in history to become a member of the 2,000 club. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills’ Stefon Diggs for the Buffalo Bills was the leader in receiving yards, raking in 1,535.
In 2019, Jameis Winston made history by becoming only the eighth player ever to surpass the 5,000-passing yard threshold – throwing for a staggering 5,109 yards. However, his Tampa Bay Buccaneers failed to make it to the playoffs, cementing the infamous record of being the only quarterback in NFL history to throw for over 30 touchdowns but miss the postseasons.
To make matters worse, he was shipped off to the New Orleans Saints to make way for Tom Brady, who delivered the Lombardi to Raymond James Stadium for the first time in 18 years the following campaign.
Derrick Henry is the only man who features in this article twice and he was nothing short of spectacular once more. He led the category of rushing yards, storming around the gridiron to pick up 1,540 of them as his Tennessee Titans reached the AFC championship games. Meanwhile, Michael Thomas of the New Orleans Saints also had a stunning season, amassing 1,725 receiving yards.
Our journey through NFL stats leaders in recent years ends with 2018, a campaign in which Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for a whopping 5,129 yards. Although his performance wasn’t enough to secure a playoff spot for his team, his impressive yardage record remains a benchmark for other quarterbacks to aim for.
Ezekiel Elliot of the Dallas Cowboys also makes an appearance courtesy of his 1,434 rushing yards, while Julio Jones claimed the top receiver slot with 1,677 yards for the Atlanta Falcons.