Running backs that are past 30 don’t tend to wreak havoc on the field, but Adrian Peterson has always been more than special, and seems to be not too far from the pace that won him the MVP in 2012, leading the league in rushing and who knows, maybe even getting to 2000 yards again.
Peterson had a special year in 2012, finishing with 2097 rushing yards (2314 from scrimmage) and winning that rare non-QB MVP. He had 1322 yards in the final eight games of the season, 1,140 yards in the final seven. He went over 100 yards six times in the final seven games and five times got past 150 yards. He was playing in front of loaded boxes and didn’t seem to mind, averaging 6.45 yards per carry with eight men in the box, posting a 2.93-yard average after contact and breaking 16 runs of 20 yards or more in the final seven games. He’ll need that kind of finale to emulate 2012.
Peterson isn’t there anymore. Because the Vikings are a different team, with Teddy Bridgewater and not Christian Ponder at quarterback. Which means less loaded boxes for Peterson to run through, but he’s not the guy he was three years ago. A lot of three tight ends sets are helping him out lead the league in rushing with 961 yards through 195 attempts, a 4.9 yards per carry average. He finished 2012 with six yards per carry. He is on pace to have the third best season of his career, but getting to the highs of 2012 might be a bit too much.
The question that remains is whether Peterson has something special for the final seven games of the season. He’s rushed for over 100 yards in three consecutive games, including 203 in their latest win, thanks to one 80-yard touchdown run, his longest of the season, coming thanks to the 3TE set. Finishing on top of the rushing charts for a third time in his career means something to him, so if there will be some sort of pressure from below (non right now) we might see more touches for Peterson, and more opportunities to put up some big numbers.