Can the NFL's top performers stay on their record-setting pace?
We have a lot of players on pace for single-season records and milestones through four weeks of the current NFL season. It will obviously be difficult for all of them to continue their torrid pace, but I'm going to take a look at all the players projecting to post record numbers, and whether or not I think they will be able to keep it up:
Peyton Manning (DEN): 117 Passes Completed (Record: Drew Brees - 468): If Peyton keeps his current pace through the rest of the season, he will hit Brees' record right on the head. The record is a possibility for Peyton, as the Broncos rarely call off the dogs, even in blowout victories. Playing better than ever with arguably the league's best arsenal of weapons, Peyton could break this record.
Sam Bradford (STL): 182 Passes Attempted (Record: Matt Stafford - 727): Bradford is on pace to barely break this record (728), but I don't really see it happening. While he is having a solid season, he has not proven himself worthy of having the ball in his hands that much. That being said, a disappointing Rams defense has given up the fifth most points in the league, so Bradford will have to sling it quite a bit this year.
Peyton Manning (DEN): 1,470 Passing Yards (Record: Drew Brees - 5,476): This will be a tough one, as it will require the Broncos' offense as a whole to keep up their record-setting pace. In addition, the Broncos will likely look to run the ball more when the weather gets colder and rookie Montee Ball gets better acclimated to the NFL. Peyton is on pace to shatter this record (5,880), so I definitely give him a shot of doing it, but it will be tough.
Peyton Manning (DEN): 16 Passing Touchdowns (Record: Tom Brady - 50): Another record Peyton is looking to demolish (on pace for 64). With the Broncos' offense absolutely terrorizing opponents, and a defense that looks to only get better (giving the offense easier scoring chances), I think Peyton will reach at least the half-century mark.
Peyton Manning (DEN): 138.0 Passer Rating (Record: Aaron Rodgers - 122.5): This may be the easiest of the records in Peyton's sights, as it does not require his offense to run up and down the field at a record pace. Passer rating is based on how many completions, yards, touchdowns, and interceptions you record per pass attempt, so Peyton just needs to keep up his efficiency to break Rodgers' record. I'd be surprised if his passer rating stays way up at 138.0, but I can definitely see it staying above 122.5.
Peyton Manning (DEN): 75.0 Completion Percentage (Record: Drew Brees - 71.2): Yet another one of Brees' records is in jeopardy. This is another one that Peyton has a good shot at because it simply requires him to continue his efficiency. Where it may get tougher for Peyton is if the Broncos start playing in closer games, which would force him to make difficult passes more frequently. Either way, the league's best quarterback has a shot at this record.
Eli Manning (NYG): 9 Interceptions Thrown (Record: 42 - George Blanda): The younger Manning brother finally makes it onto the list, but for all the wrong reasons. Eli is on pace to finish well behind Blanda's record with 36 picks, but that would give him the second most ever, one more than Vinny Testaverde. The reason Eli is turning the ball over so much is because the Giants have no running game, prompting pass rushers to pin their ears back against an underperforming offensive line, forcing Eli to constantly sling the ball out quickly while getting hit. I expect the Giants to start playing better as a whole, and for Eli's interception rate to drop as a result.
Ryan Tannehill (MIA): Sacked 18 Times (Record: David Carr - 76): The whole nation saw on Monday Night Football just what the biggest problem with the Dolphins is - their pass protection. Despite the big spending over the offseason, the team let Jake Long walk and passed on Lane Johnson in the draft, leaving them with Jonathan Martin at left tackle. Tannehill is progressing nicely as a signal caller, but it's tough to expect too much out of the second-year man when he's constantly being swallowed up by opposing pass rushes. He's on pace to tie Randall Cunnigham's second-highest all-time mark of 72 times sacked.