A few weeks ago, we covered Calvin Johnson's insane second half of the 2012 season -- the final nine games of a year in which he set the single-season receiving yards record of 1,964 yards.
In those final nine games, Johnson had eight 100-yard games and two 200-yard games. It’s why trying to use Johnson’s 2012 season as an actual pacer is really difficult to do. Except for this -- Antonio Brown is starting to show shades of Johnson’s 2012 campaign.
In Johnson’s first seven games of 2012, he had four games of under 100 yards receiving and two under 50 yards. He had only one game over 150 yards.
Brown actually had a stronger first half than Johnson did in 2012, compiling four 100-yard games but had three games under 50 yards receiving as he’s been hampered by Pittsburgh’s quarterback injury issues.
But the past two weeks, Brown has had Megatron-esque weeks like in 2012. In Week 9 he had 284 yards receiving against Oakland. This past Sunday he had 139 yards against Cleveland. So he’s starting to heat up like Johnson did in 2012.
Brown’s path to 1,964 yards will get tougher after his bye this week. In his final six games, he has the league’s top two pass defenses (Denver and Seattle) and three of the league’s bottom 10 in pass defense (Baltimore, Indianapolis, Cleveland).
The only other receiver in the conversation now is Atlanta’s Julio Jones, who was off Sunday. He doesn’t have the quarterback questions Brown has and theoretically an easier schedule. He faces two top-10 pass defenses (No. 8 Minnesota and No. 10 Tampa Bay) and three bottom-10 pass defenses (Jacksonville, Indianapolis, New Orleans). He also has two games against unbeaten Carolina, which has the No. 11 pass defense in the league.
So both players have a chance to catch the record but need to increase their pace much like Johnson did during his hot second half in 2012. At this point, one poor game might knock either one out of potential contention.
Here is where Jones and Brown stand nine or 10 games into the season. Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins, who has been on the list for much of the season, has fallen off pace enough that he’s not being tracked for now.
Yards per game: 114.3
On pace for: 1,829 yards
Yards per game needed to break Johnson’s record: 133.7
Yards needed to reach 1,965: 936
Yards per game: 114.1
On pace for: 1,825 yards
Yards per game needed to break Johnson’s record: 137.3
Yards needed to reach 1,965: 824
Calvin Johnson through nine games in 2012
Yards per game averaged by Johnson during the 2012 season: 122.75
100-yard games Johnson had in 2012: 11
200-yard games Johnson had in 2012: 2