After watching Derrick Henry torch the Buffalo Bills last week to the tune of 143 yards and 3 scores on 20 carries, the NFL world is buzzing about Henry’s chances at breaking several all-time NFL records. Coming into this season, we all knew that multiple NFL single-season records would be at risk, as the NFL added another regular season game to the schedule for 2021-22.
That means instead of having just 16 games to rack up stats, players are going to get 17 games to set new all-time benchmarks. You can argue back and forth about whether or not that the extra game is fair to the current record holders, but at the end of the day, there will be no asterisk next to these names in the record books, and if players set new standards, they will hold up as the legit record holders.
Derrick Henry (783) has rushed for 260 more yards than the next closest player (523).
He has twice as many rushing touchdowns (10) as the next guy (5).
King among men. pic.twitter.com/lWl2GcXdOo
— StatMuse (@statmuse) October 19, 2021
Henry has a shot at breaking a slew of all-time records this year, as he is off to a blistering hot start. Records that are in reach for Henry include the records for most rushing yards in a season, most rushing attempts in a season, most rushing TDs scored in a season, and most all-purpose yards in a season.
You can make cases for all of those, but for the sake of this article, we are going to focus on what seems to be the most breakable record, the single-season rushing attempts record. Before we get too far into breaking down the bet here, let’s first take a look back at the current record of 416 attempts by Larry Johnson of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson had a peculiar career. After racking up gaudy stats in college at Penn State, including rushing for over 2,000 yards in his senior season in Happy Valley, Johnson was taken in the 1st round of the 2003 NFL draft. Johnson didn’t play much in his first couple of years in the league, as he played backup to all-pro running back Priest Holmes.
Johnson finally got his shot to be the guy in Kansas City in 2005, and he had one of the best seasons ever, rushing for 1750 yards and 20 TDs. That season made Johnson a household name, and the Chiefs entered the 2006 season with Johnson expected to carry a heavy load. And what a load it ended up being, as Johnson set the record for most rushing attempts that year, running the ball an absurd 416 times.
Most rush attempts in a season in NFL history:
416 rush attempts (Larry Johnson, 2006)
Derrick Henry's current 16-game pace:
454 rush attempts
Derrick Henry's current 17-game pace:
483 rush attempts pic.twitter.com/iy3tpySrYE
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) October 13, 2021
Johnson rushed for a career-high 1,789 that season and was named to the all-pro team. Johnson was rewarded for his monster season with the highest paying contract in NFL history for a running back and looked to be a star for years to come. But as quickly as Johnson turned into a superstar, injuries on the field, and discipline issues off the field, quickly derailed his once promising career.
Johnson rushed 752 times in that 2-year stretch, and all of that work clearly took its toll, as Johnson never could stay healthy and never again reached those lofty heights in his NFL career. Just a couple of years later, he was out of the league. Johnson’s career is a cautionary tale of managing the workload of your bell-cow running back, and we have seen teams dramatically decrease running backs workloads ever since. Until now.
Derrick Henry has been an absolute beast at every level of football. In high school, he set the all-time career rushing yards record. In college at Alabama, he led the nation in rushing, breaking Herschel Walker’s SEC rushing yards record, and won the Heisman Trophy and a national title. In the NFL, he has led the league in rushing yards in each of the last 2 seasons, joining the exclusive 2k club last year when he rushed for 2,027 yards.
It is hard for a guy with Henry’s resume to ever surprise you, but even in the context of being one of the best football players ever to play the game, what Henry has been able to do already this season has been staggering. Henry leads the NFL in basically every major rushing stat, including attempts (162), yards (783), and TDs (10). If you project out those stats for a full 17-game season, Henry’s season stat line could look something like this.
Derrick Henry is on pace for…
• 2,218 rush yards
• 391 receiving yards
• 28 TDs
— NFL Stats (@NFL_Stats) October 19, 2021
459 attempts, 2,218 yards, and 28 TDs. All of those would either be records and or close to it, and if he were able to post those numbers, it would easily be considered the greatest single season ever by a running back.
The NFL MVP Award has morphed into the best quarterback in the league award, as QBs have taken home the game’s top honors every year since Adrian Peterson won the award back in 2012. When you compare what AP did in 2012 to what Henry is doing in 2021, it makes it that much more impressive. AP is a legend and future 1st ballot Hall of Famer, and his MVP season consisted of 348 attempts, 2,091 yards, and 12 scores.
Derrick Henry's best plays from Monday Night Football #BUFvsTEN
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) October 20, 2021
As you can see from above, Henry is on pace to dwarf those numbers this year. The scary part about what Henry has been able to do this year is that he tends to be a slow starter and turns it on more and more as the season wears on. We have seen that this season as well, as he rushed for just 58 yards in week 1 and had his highest YPC average of the year in his last game, with 142 yards on 20 carries for a 7.2 average.
The Betting Line
We have seen what Henry is chasing, and we have seen what he is on pace to do, now let’s take a quick look at the betting odds.
Will Derrick Henry Break The Single-Season Rushing Attempts Record
- Matchup Odds
- Yes -120
- No -120
The books have set this prop bet at exactly even money, which is somewhat shocking when you see he is on pace to obliterate the record. But it goes to show you that carrying the ball that many times in the NFL is always going to be tough.
One injury that costs you any significant time and you have no shot at getting there. A couple of games that turn into blowouts where the Titans decide to give Henry a blow, and he has no shot at getting there. The bookmakers know how much of a grind the NFL season can be, and they have built that into this line.
What’s The Bet?
So, which side of this bet makes the most sense, and shows the most value? I am taking yes! I have a feeling that these odds are going to take a major dip following next week’s game, as the Titans play the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs are one of the worst teams in the NFL against the run, and I see Tennessee hammering the ball on the ground with Derrick Henry. Henry already has 2 games where he has rushed the ball at least 30 times this season, and I see a heavy dose of the Henry hammer this weekend.
When the Chiefs played the Baltimore Ravens earlier this season, Baltimore rushed the ball 41 times. It wouldn’t at all be shocking to see a similar number this week, as Henry is the motor of this Titan’s offense. Even if Henry ends up with a “pedestrian” 30+ carries, he is going to be even further above the pace that he needs to break the record.
Let’s add on 30 carries to Henry’s total this week against Kansas City. That would give him 192 carries in 7 games. That’s an average of just over 27 carries per game. If he held on to that average the rest of the way out, he would have 466 carries, easily beating the record.
Derrick Henry named AFC Offensive Player of the Week @KingHenry_2
Week 6 🏆 » https://t.co/C9eJXgujGa
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) October 20, 2021
But even if his production takes a dip, he will only need 225 more carries to set the new record in the remaining 10 games. An average of 22.5 carries is absolutely achievable. In fact, going back to the start of the 2019 season, when Henry finally took over the lead back role in Tennessee, Henry has averaged, get this, 22.8 carries per game.
All Henry has to do to break this record is stay healthy, something he has been really great at doing in his career, and just keep doing what he has done for the last several years. The Titans haven’t done much to establish a passing game, and they are quickly becoming completely dependent on the run. And unlike other run-heavy teams like the Browns and Ravens, that use a running back by committee approach, in Tennessee, it is all about Derrick Henry.
And there you have it, folks, my bet on whether or not Derrick Henry can break the all-time single-season rushing attempts record. These weekly NFL special bets can be a lot of fun and very profitable if you do your homework!
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