Who's on Top? NFL’s Midseason Leaders

Adrian Peterson leads the NFL in rushing despite leading the league in a seemingly contradictory stat.

Adrian Peterson leads the NFL in rushing … and in stuffs.

Peterson is back in the rushing lead as teams work through the bye-week portion of the schedule and even up in the number of games played this year. Peterson was behind two other players that hadn’t had their byes yet entering Week 9, but he has 758 yards through eight games after back-to-back 100-yard games for the Minnesota Vikings.

But he also easily leads the league in stuffs, a statistic by STATS LLC that counts the number of times Peterson has been dropped for negative-yardage runs. He had only one of those in Week 8 against the Chicago Bears but the St. Louis Rams stopped Peterson for several times behind the line of scrimmage and still allowed 125 yards rushing to him.

Peterson’s mantra has been “famine, famine, feast,” and that seems to be the case this year more than ever.

Here are some of the other leaders and trends to watch for as the second half of the season commences:

The NFL leaders on offense: New Orleans is first in yards gained, Carolina is first in rushing yards and San Diego is first in passing yards.

Leaders on defense: Denver is first in fewest yards allowed overall and in the passing game, and the New York Jets are first in rushing yards allowed.

Since 2000, 35 teams have reached the halfway point of their season with a .500 or below winning percentage and advanced to the playoffs. Since 1987, at least one team with a record of .500 or worse through eight games has advanced to the playoffs.

The Chargers aren’t following the common line of thinking that a great quarterback is what is needed to win in today’s NFL. Philip Rivers leads the NFL with 3,033 yards passing and has a 100.7 rating, but the Chargers are only 2-7.

Tom Brady leads the NFL with 22 touchdown passes and a 113.5 passer rating, but nine qualifying quarterbacks have a rating above 100 – Brady, Andy Dalton, Carson Palmer, Tyrod Taylor, Aaron Rodgers, Derek Carr, Drew Brees and Marcus Mariota.

Palmer is the best so far at converting third-and-long (8 yards or more) on passes, converting 52 percent of those attempts.

Only one quarterback has been sacked more than 30 times when attempting to pass – Seattle’s Russell Wilson at 31.

Who is the best quarterback when spreading out defenses? Eli Manning has a 119.9 passer rating with four receivers in the game. In three-receiver sets, it’s Brady, who has a 140 rating in those situations.

Peterson may have the most yards, but Karlos Williams has the most yards per attempt – a whopping 6.59 on 51 attempts. Ryan Mathews is next at 6.1.

Peterson leads the league with 23 rushes greater than 10 yards, which seems natural if he is leading the league in both total rushing yards and stuffs – he needs the long runs to make up for the stuffed runs.

 DeMarco Murray is the leader when it comes to converting first downs on runs of third-and-4 or longer, moving the chains on all six of his attempts there. His teammate, Matthews, is the leader in first-down runs, averaging 6.9 yards on first-and-10.

With nine games each, Atlanta’s Julio Jones (1,029) and Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown (1,002) are the only two receivers over 1,000 yards already. Jones leads with 119 targets.

Brown leads the NFL with 11 catches longer than 25 yards, but New England tight end Rob Gronkowski is second with 10.

Brown is the leader with 20 catches on third down that have gone for a first down.

Cincinnati tight end Tyler Eifert leads the NFL with nine receiving touchdowns. Eifert and New England’s Julian Edelman are the leaders with 10 catches inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.

San Francisco’s Torrey Smith leads the league with a 21.44 yards-per-catch average and Jones leads all wide receivers with 403 yards after the catch.

New England’s Chandler Jones is the sacks leader with 9½.

Indianapolis’ Mike Adams and Oakland’s Charles Woodson are tied atop the interceptions leaderboard with five each.

Miami’s Cameron Wake, despite being placed on season-ending injured reserve on Oct. 31, still leads the league with four forced fumbles.

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