With one more victory, Pittsburgh Steelers Coach Chuck Noll will surpass his former mentor, Paul Brown, and move into fifth place on the all-time NFL coaches' win list. Going into this season, Noll and Brown are tied with 170 victories each. Noll, the only coach to take his team to four Super Bowl victories, was a messenger guard on the Brown-coached Cleveland teams of the 1950s.
Walter Payton, the peerless Chicago Bears running back, needs one rushing touchdown to break the NFL career record of 106 he currently shares with former Cleveland Browns back Jim Brown. Payton has scored 120 career touchdowns overall and needs only seven more to break Brown's NFL record.
Steve Largent of the Seattle Seahawks needs to catch only six more passes to become the second player in NFL history to compile 700 receptions. Largent caught 70 passes last season and needs only 57 this year to break the career record of 750, held by former San Diego Chargers receiver Charlie Joiner.
When he racks up the modest total of 132 yards by rushing, receiving and returning kicks, Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett will become the third NFL player ever to achieve 15,000 combined yards. Only Payton (21,053) and Brown (15,459) have a higher all-purpose total than that of Dorsett, and Brown is in danger of being overtaken. Dorsett is also likely to move up on the all-time NFL rushing list. With 541 yards he will replace former Steelers and Seahawks back Franco Harris (12,120) as the third-best ground-gainer of all time, and with 733 yards he will knock Brown (12,312) out of second place.
Billy Johnson, the Atlanta Falcons' all-purpose receiver and kick returner, needs but a single punt return to become the sole record-holder for the art. Johnson goes into the season with 258, tied with Emlen Tunnell.
With the dramatic addition of his next 2-yard carry, New York Giants running back Ottis Anderson will replace Larry Csonka in 10th place on the all-time NFL rushing list. In eight seasons, Anderson has rushed for 8,080 yards. Csonka, who was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame last month, gained 8,081 yards over 11 seasons with the Miami Dolphins and Giants.
Los Angeles Rams running back Eric Dickerson, who has led the NFL rushing charts three of the last four seasons, needs to gain only 1,032 yards -- a total that is 710 yards short of his usual seasonal average -- to become the first player in NFL history to reach the 8,000-yard rushing mark in his first five seasons.
Kickers Pat Leahy of the New York Jets and Chris Bahr of the Los Angeles Raiders are each closing in on 1,000 career points, a mark that has been reached by only 12 NFL kickers. Leahy, a 14-year veteran, is starting the season with 993 points. Bahr, a 12-year veteran, goes into the season with 958.