In the ever changing and fluid positional rankings in the NFL, it’s hard to determine who the best running backs in the league are. But the wild card playoff game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Seattle Seahawks might feature the top 2: Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch.
This wasn’t a great season for Lynch, playing in just 7 games with a production of 417 yards and three touchdowns, following four consecutive seasons with 1200 yards and 11 touchdowns at least in each. He hasn’t played since November in a loss to the Arizona Cardinals, and has only one game with more than 100 yards this season (122 yards against the 49ers). However, he’s back in practice and will be playing for Seattle, who finished the season 9-6 for the Wild Card spot, and were only 3-4 with Lynch on the field this season, although it might have had something to do with the difficult of the schedule.
There’s no real mystery in the importance of Peterson to the Vikings. After missing an entire season due to suspension, he ran for an NFL best 1485 yards this season, the 7th time in his career he’s gone past the 1000 yards mark. The only times he hasn’t? Running for 970 yards in 12 games, and the 75 yards he had in 2014, playing in just one game. It wasn’t just totals due to leading the NFL in carries. Peterson has more rushing touchdowns than anyone (11) and also finished with an NFL best 92.1 yards per game. When you’re a running back who is close to 31 with so many touches behind you, that’s behind remarkable.
But while the Vikings rely heavily on Peterson getting his game going on early, the Seahawks have been all about Russell Wilson in their impressive run late in the season. Thomas Rawls also went down with a season ending injury, and while Christine Michael also had some good games for Seattle, it’s just not the same without a dominant running back for this team. Wilson has been astonishing, but the Seahawks probably feel a lot more confident with Lynch also capable of getting some reps, even if he isn’t completely 100%.
One thing to remember: The Seahawks crushed the Vikings when the two teams met in the regular season, beating them 38-7. Russell Wilson threw three touchdown passes and ran for another one while Rawls had a 101-yard day with a touchdowns. The Vikings? Peterson had just 8 carries which made him go after his coaching staff in the media (Vikings went 3-1 after that loss) and overall had just 125 total offense yards. At home, lets hope we get more of a fight, and not another one-sided embarrassment.