Saints quarterback Drew Brees made history on Monday night, when his 9-yard touchdown pass to Darren Sproles brought his passing yards on the season to 5,087. In doing so, the 32-year-old Brees broke Dan Marino's record, which stood for 27 years.
The question is — how long will Brees' record stand?
Tom Brady currently has 4,897 passing yards this season, which is 190 fewer yards than Brees. As both the Saints and Patriots head into the final week of the season, it's unknown how much playing time either quarterback will be given in Week 17. The Patriots have secured a first-round bye but can clinch the top seed in the AFC and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win over Buffalo. The Saints will need a win and a San Francisco loss to earn a first-round bye, but the 49ers are playing perhaps the worst team in football (St. Louis), so such a scenario is doubtful to say the least.
The Saints may be better off resting their starters, given that they'll be hosting a playoff game the following weekend. The Patriots, on the other hand, have a bit more freedom. Do you want to see them allow Brady to go for the record?
It comes down to weighing the positives versus the negatives. The first plus is that Brady could add to his Hall of Fame resume. He already has the single-season touchdown record (50), and the yardage mark would be a nice complement. Plus, he'll be in front of the home crowd, and he'd be able to do it while getting some payback against the Bills for their four-interception performance against Brady earlier this season. The Patriots also can worry less about resting starters, as that first-round bye ensures everyone will have plenty of time to rest up.
There's also this: Setting the single-season yardage record would further cement Brady as one of and perhaps the single greatest quarterback to ever play football.
The negatives, though, remain. The more Brady plays next week, as with any week, the more the chance of injury persists. The thought of the Patriots hosting a divisional playoff game without No. 12 under center is one that makes many New Englanders' stomachs turn. There's also the unknown regarding Brees — if Brady plays four quarters and throws for 400 yards, the Patriots will have no guarantee that Brees didn't throw for 300 down in New Orleans.
Bill Belichick has shown a tendency in the past to allow his players to go for records. Immediately, the thought of Brady throwing time and time again to Randy Moss in Week 17 of the '07 season comes to mind, when each set records for touchdowns. It seemed to pop up again this year, when Brady targeted Wes Welker several times late in a blowout against the Chiefs, seemingly to allow Welker to extend his streak of consecutive games with a catch to 88.