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Can Calvin Johnson become the NFL’s first-ever 2,000-yard receiver?

It was only a matter of time.

With single-season passing records falling and falling again on what seems to be an annual basis, it was impossible to imagine Jerry Rice's single-season receiving yardage mark of 1,848 holding up during an era in which passing has become more prevalent than ever before. After all, people are catching all of those throws, right?

And now it looks like Rice's record is finally in serious jeopardy of falling, with Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson only 420 yards short with four games remaining in 2012. 

Johnson, who fell 167 yards short of the record last year, would merely have to average 105.3 yards per game between now and the end of the season to break Rice's 17-year-old record. He hasn't had fewer than 129 in a single game since Week 7 and is averaging 158 per outing during that stretch. And even if he comes back to earth a little during the final quarter of the season, his full year average of 119 would still easily get the job done.

The question, instead, might be whether Megatron can become the first player in football history to pick up 2,000 yards receiving. 

In order to hit the 2,000 mark and become the new CJ2K, the 27-year-old needs to average 143 yards per game to conclude the year. That's still well below his average from the last five weeks, but some would argue that stretch isn't sustainable for four more outings. If he continues on that pace, he'll finish with 2,064 yards, crushing Rice's record and locking up offensive player of the year debates. If he merely sustains his full season average, he'll finish 1,904, breaking the record but falling well short of 2,000. 

Looking at Johnson's final four opponents: 

Week 14: At Green Bay – The Packers rank 17th in the NFL in pass defense but are missing Sam Shields and Charles Woodson. They've still fared OK without those guys, but Johnson went to town against Tramon Williams and some other Green Bay defensive backs in Week 11. 

Week 15: At Arizona — The Cardinals actually have the No. 3-ranked pass defense in the league and have surrendered a respectable 6.9 yards per pass attempt this season. Patrick Peterson shut down Julio Jones in Week 11 and they handled Percy Harvin in Week 7.

Week 16: Vs. Atlanta — The Falcons are ranked in the middle of the pack through the air defensively, but they've given up 7.4 yards per attempt. They haven't faced a lot of elite receivers this year without Brent Grimes, but they haven't been beaten too often. 

Week 17: Vs. Chicago – The Bears' defense held Johnson to his worst output of the season (three catches, 34 yards) back in Week 6. But this game's in Detroit and that D is really banged up right now, so it could be a different story in the season finale. 

Brad Gagnon

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at theScore.com (covering Super Bowls XLIV, XLV and XLVI), a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at Deadspin, FoxSports.com, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Bloguin, but his day gig has him covering all things NFC East for Bleacher Report.

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