It's scary to think where the Minnesota Vikings would be without Adrian Peterson.
If the 27-year-old running back didn't recover from a torn ACL and MCL in incredibly quick fashion, if he didn't magically return to his old, unstoppable self faster than anyone could have ever dreamed, if he was putting together anything less than this potentially record-breaking season, the Vikes would be fighting with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Kansas City Chiefs for the No. 1 pick.
Not fighting for a playoff spot.
And that's why he should be the front-runner for MVP.
People tend to forget that MVP does, in fact, stand for Most Valuable Player. The argument tends to get made for those with the best numbers, and while AP obviously stands up pretty well in that debate, too, his case should begin and end with his amazing worth.
That worth is summed up perfectly with this one stat (via ESPN Stats & Info):
Adrian Peterson: 9 rush, 90 yds, TD... In the last 8 games, Peterson has more rush yds (1,191) than Christian Ponder has pass yds (1,107).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 16, 2012
But with Christian Ponder playing poorly and Percy Harvin being out since the beginning of November, the Vikings would be without a single win minus Peterson.
Instead, once again fueled by a gaudy Peterson effort, they are coming off a 36-22 road win over an underrated St. Louis Rams squad, have eight wins and a good shot at making the playoffs out of the crowded NFC.
Of course, there's a reason a quarterback has won this award five straight times and nine out of the last 11. Replacing a signal-caller is a much more difficult task that replacing a running back. Therefore, QBs are usually much more valuable.
But what if the running back does something that no one in history has ever done?
Well, Peterson is on his way (via NFL memes):
Adrian Peterson goes 82-Yards for the TD: twitter.com/NFL_Memes/stat…— NFL Memes (@NFL_Memes) December 16, 2012
Dickerson ran for 2,105 yards back in 1984 and no one has touched that record since.
After racking up another 212 yards on Sunday afternoon, however, Peterson now sits at 1,812 for the season. If he averages 146.5 over Minnesota's last two contests, he'll break Dickerson's record.
That's not the easiest of tasks, but this is Adrian Peterson we're talking about, the guy who has pretty much everyone convinced of this by now (via Bonnie Bernstein):
That's it. Adrian Peterson is a robot. I'm now thoroughly convinced.— Bonnie Bernstein (@BonnieBernstein) December 16, 2012
He runs through defenders like a battering ram and then away from them like a gazelle. He's averaging a ridiculous 6.3 yards per carry against stacked boxes. At this point, I would be surprised if The Hulk could tackle him. He is, without a doubt, the most unstoppable player in the NFL.
This year's MVP race will be the closest since Manning and Steve McNair shared the award back in 2003. You can make a solid case for all three candidates, and even very good ones for a few certain rookies and defensive players.
But just like he's told defenses all season long when he undoubtedly talks in third person, Adrian Peterson is simply better.