The defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks take on the high-octane Green Bay Packers in the NFL's season opener Thursday night.

And while the on-field narrative will of course center around Russell Wilson and Seattle's defense of the Lombardi Trophy, for us it offers the chance to get ready for another year of potentially broken records on the gridiron.

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Here are a few accomplishments (some of which have already happened even before the season!) to keep an eye on as America's modern pastime gets started again.


Jimmy Graham and J.J. Watt are two of the most devastating specimens in the league, and they've parlayed their freakish abilities into freakishly large paychecks heading into the season.

The former, a Ferrari-like tight end for the New Orleans Saints, recently signed a 4-year, $40-million contract, making it the largest contract ever given to a tight end. The latter, a monster defensive end and humorous TV pitchman (above), inked a 6-year, $100-million deal of his own. Both the annual average salary and guaranteed money of $51.9 million are all-time highs for any defensive player.


The two preeminent quarterbacks of this era (not to mention two of the best ever) are near locks to break a couple of passing records this season.

Denver's Peyton Manning needs "just" 18 touchdowns to break Brett Favre's career record of most passing touchdowns at 508. We say "just" because, if Manning performs anywhere near what we've grown to expect from him, this record will fall in short order. Aside from the 2011 season he sat out with a neck injury, Manning (not a bad TV pitch man himself) has started all 16 games in each of his other 15 NFL seasons. Average passing touchdowns per year? 32.7, including 55 last season. We think this one's a safe bet.

Also don't forget that Manning is already the all-time leader in career passing yards, entering the season with 64,964. With every completion, he'll only add to that total, while almost assuredly becoming the first QB to pass the 65,000-yard marker in history.

Then there's Manning's historical foil, Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. While Manning will retire with basically every regular-season passing record in the books, Brady has forged a reputation as a more potent postseason performer. And, assuming the Pats make it to the playoffs again (talk about sure things), Brady will need just three scores to pass his idol Joe Montana for most career playoff touchdown passes, a record currently at 45.


We guess these records are theoretically primed to get broken, but there's probably a better chance of the Raiders winning the Super Bowl.

Speaking of the Raiders, their all-time secondary great Charles Woodson needs two interception returns for touchdowns to break Rod Woodson's (unrelated) career mark of 12. Woodson did return three picks to the house in 2009 and two in 2008 with Green Bay. But seeing him settle for tying the record may be more realistic, as he's taken at least one pick-6 back in eight seasons.

Even rarer will be Chicago Bears defensive end Jared Allen and his quest for safety. The most career safeties that is. Allen is currently tied for first all-time with two others, having logged four career safeties across his nine-year career.

A long shot that may actually happen is Devin Hester breaking his tie with Deion Sanders for most career non-offensive touchdowns. Where Deion earned his 19 career TDs across punt and kick returns and defensive scores, Hester has racked his up strictly in the return game. We'll keep an eye on the new Atlanta Falcon every time the opposition lines up for a kick.

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