Drew Brees can break Dan Marino’s record for passing yards tonight

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees signs caps for fans before his game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana November 6, 2011. REUTERS/Dan Anderson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Considering how much of an impact tonight’s Monday Night Football game between the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints will have on the NFC playoff picture, it’s easy to forget that Drew Brees is on the verge of breaking one of Dan Marino’s last major records.

If Brees throws for 305 yards, he’ll break Marino’s record for most passing yards in a single season. Marino accomplished the feat back in 1984 when he also broke the single-season record for most passing touchdowns with 48, which Peyton Manning broke in 2004 when he threw 49 touchdown passes.

If Brees plays as well tonight as he usually does versus Atlanta, then he should have no problem breaking the record in front of a primetime audience. He threw for 322 yards and two touchdowns in the Saints’ 26-23 victory over the Falcons in mid-November this year, and has thrown for at least 300 yards in four of his previous eight games against Atlanta. That said, he has never thrown for over 300 yards twice in one season versus the Falcons, who are determined not to be the team that allows him to break Marino’s record.

“We don’t want to be the team that he played against when he actually gets the record,” Falcons cornerback Kelvin Hayden said last week. “Mainly, you want to come out with the win, but secondarily we don’t want the record broken on us.”

Unfortunately for he and the Falcons, Hayden will likely watch tonight’s game from the sidelines as he continues to recover from a dislocated toe. But the team hopes to have top corner Brent Grimes back, which would be a huge coup for the Atlanta secondary. Grimes has missed the past three weeks with a knee injury and while he’s officially listed as questionable, he was able to practice this week (albeit on a limited basis).

Brees’ chase of Marino’s record is taking a backseat to the importance of tonight’s game as it pertains to the NFC playoff picture. The Saints are in a battle with the 49ers for the No. 2 seed behind the Packers, while the Falcons are jockeying for position with the Lions for the No. 5 spot. Atlanta could also still win the NFC South if it beats New Orleans and Tampa Bay in its final two games, and if the Saints lose to the Panthers this Sunday.

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