Fran Tarkenton was in his 15th season when he won the 1975 NFL MVP award while moving past Johnny Unitas in career touchdown passes.

After breaking Johnny U’s nine-year-old mark of 290, the Vikings quarterback would stretch his total to 342 and hold the record for 20 years until Dan Marino overtook him in 1995.

Today, Tarkenton is on the verge of falling out of the top 10. Matt Ryan needs 11 touchdowns to drop Tarkenton to 11th.

Meanwhile, the career touchdown passes list could have a new leader as early as Sunday. And the lead could change hands multiple times during the remainder of this season.

Drew Brees, who has held the mark since taking it from Peyton Manning last December, has 556 touchdowns and plays a noon game against Carolina. Tom Brady, who has never held the record, is at 555 and plays Las Vegas at 3:05 p.m.

When Tarkenton retired after the 1978 season, he held every major passing record. He surpassed Unitas in completions in 1975 and yards passing in 1976. Marino also broke Tarkenton’s yardage mark in 1995.

Today, Tarkenton ranks 13th in passing yards (47,003) and 17th in completions (3,686).

Marino finished with 420 touchdowns and held the record until 2007, when Brett Favre threw his 421st touchdown to Greg Jennings in a win over the Vikings at the Metrodome.

Favre finished with 508 touchdowns. He held the mark for seven years until Peyton Manning overtook him on his way to 539.

Manning’s reign lasted just five years until Brees threw his 540th.

Brees has nine touchdown passes in five games this year. Brady has 14 in six games.

Now NFC South rivals, Brees’ Saints travel to Tampa to face Brady’s Bucs in a Sunday night game on Nov. 8. It’s a rematch of Week 1, when the Saints beat the Bucs at the Superdome.

NFL career TD passes

With a combined age of 84, Drew Brees (556) and Tom Brady (555) are in a battle for the career passing touchdown record.

Player, years Total

1. Drew Brees, 2001-present 556

2. Tom Brady, 2000-present 555

3. Peyton Manning, 1998-2015 539

4. Brett Favre, 1991-2010 508

5. Dan Marino, 1983-99 420

6. Philip Rivers, 2004-present 404

7. Aaron Rodgers, 2005-present 377

8. Ben Roethlisberger, 2004-present 374

9. Eli Manning, 2004-2019 366

10. Fran Tarkenton, 1961-78 342

11. Matt Ryan, 2008-present 332

Mark Craig