These guys are on pace for the NFL's best -- and worst -- seasons

Let's all play a game of "On Pace." You know: A guy runs for three touchdowns in Week 1 and we all jump up and down and shriek that he's on pace for 48 touchdowns this season. (That would be a record or something.)

Here at the midpoint of the season, of course, we can begin to make more meaningful and relevant projections. Those of us who are experienced "On Pace" players know that many statistics, particularly passing and kicking, tend to fade in November and December -- victims of weather, injuries and other factors. But with that in mind, let's consider a slice of NFL players who are on pace to finish among the best and worst in some categories.

As a searing optimist, I chose six of the former and four of the latter. So there. (Pro Football Reference's play index database provided much of this data.)

On pace for the best

1. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady

So far: 22 touchdowns, two interceptions (eight games)

On pace: 44 touchdowns, four interceptions

Comment: It's not reasonable to expect Brady to duplicate that performance while playing five of his remaining games in northern climates, but he's got some wiggle room. Only twice in NFL history has a quarterback thrown for at least 35 touchdown passes and no more than five interceptions: Aaron Rodgers in 2014 (38/5) and Brady in 2010 (36/4). Brady also has a chance to break the record he set in 2010 with a 0.81 interception percentage. He's currently at 0.6.

2. San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers

So far: 3,033 passing yards (nine games)

On pace: 5,392 yards

Comment: At 2-7, the Chargers' struggles have forced Rivers to throw more often than he typically does. He's on pace for 693 attempts, 111 more than ever before in his career. San Diego's fair weather gives him a chance to approach Peyton Manning's NFL record of 5,477 yards in a season, set in 2013. Playing in Denver that season, Manning had 3,249 yards by this point. In a dome environment, meanwhile, Drew Brees had 3,004 yards through nine games when he finished with 5,476 in 2011. Rivers has three games left in San Diego and one in Jacksonville.

3. Minnesota Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson

So far: 758 rushing yards (eight games)

On pace: 1,516 yards

Comment: Peterson leads the NFL in rushing with a relatively modest total. It's only the 10th-most rushing yards through eight games for a running back over 30 years old in history. In today's pass-first era, however, Peterson has a chance to be just the second 30-plus rushing champion since 1950. (Curtis Martin did it in 2004 at 31.) It's worth noting that Chris Johnson, also 30, ranks third in rushing this season with 646 yards.

4. St. Louis Rams running back Todd Gurley

So far: 664 rushing yards (six games)

On pace: 1,712 yards

Comment: Gurley got only six carries in his first NFL game, as a reserve in Week 3. So we're basing his projection on the 131 yards he has averaged over his five starts. If he keeps that pace over his final eight games, Gurley would finish with more rushing yards than any rookie except Eric Dickerson -- who totaled 1,808 yards over 16 games in 1983. That was an average of 113 yards per start. Given the Rams' poor passing game, it's probably unreasonable to expect Gurley to continue carrying the load at this level.

5. Oakland Raiders safety Charles Woodson

So far: five interceptions (eight games)

On pace: 10 interceptions

Comment: Woodson is tied for the NFL lead in interceptions and is on pace to be the league's oldest interception champion -- by a long shot. The oldest player to lead the NFL in interceptions was Rod Woodson, who had seven at age 34 in 1999. Charles Woodson turned 39 last month. Rod Woodson was also the oldest player to have at least six interceptions (he had eight at age 37 in 2002).

6. New England Patriots place-kicker Stephen Gostkowski

So far: 19 field goals in 19 attempts (eight games)

On pace: 38-for-38

Comment: In only two seasons has a place-kicker finished with at least 20 attempts without missing one. Both played their home games indoors: Gary Anderson (35-for-35 in 1998 for Minnesota) and Mike Vanderjagt (37-37 in 2003 for Indianapolis). The best percentage for an outdoor kicker, with a minimum of 20 attempts, was Chris Boniol, who converted 27 of 28 attempts (96.4 percent) for Dallas in 1995. The New York Giants' Josh Brown is also 19-for-19 this season, but in nine games.

On pace for the worst

1. Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning

So far: 13 interceptions (eight games)

On pace: 26 interceptions

Comment: A player has thrown at least 26 interceptions on 38 occasions since 1920. It would be the second time for Manning, who threw 28 as a rookie in 1998. In an era when quarterback efficiency has skyrocketed, a 26-interception season is especially rare. It has happened only four times in the past 20 years.

2. Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford

So far: one win (eight games)

On pace: two wins

Comment: Wins and losses really aren't a quarterback statistic, and Stafford is hardly the only person to blame for the Lions' 1-7 record. But that start has put Stafford on pace to finish the season in rare and inglorious company. If the Lions finish 2-14, their overall record in games he has started would be 37-56. At that point, there would be only one player in NFL history -- Archie Manning -- who had made as many as 93 starts and won 37 or fewer of them. The bumbling Lions of the Stafford Era would be second only to Manning's 'Aints. Ouch.

3. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson

So far: 31 sacks taken (eight games)

On pace: 62 sacks taken

Comment: In an era of short drops and quick releases, it has been 10 seasons since a quarterback took as many as 62 sacks. If Wilson keeps pace, he would finish with the fifth-most sacks in recorded league history. Two of the four highest totals belong to David Carr and a third to Jon Kitna. Randall Cunningham, meanwhile, was sacked 72 times in 1986 while -- like Wilson -- trying to get outside the pocket and either run or buy time. Wilson has averaged 2.7 seconds before throwing this season, the NFL's third-longest time.

4. Buffalo Bills

So far: 84 penalties (eight games)

On pace: 168 penalties

Comment: Coach Rex Ryan's team is on pace to break the record of 163 set by the 2011 Oakland Raiders. The next two highest marks are 158, set by the 1998 Kansas City Chiefs, and 156 (two teams). The Bills have had another 19 penalties declined or offset. Penalty totals don't always correlate to wins and losses, but the Bills are nearing historic proportions.