In most years, deciding who the NFL MVP will be is a tough task. There are always multiple players who put up strong candidacies.
This year, however, the race is quite clear. The MVP should be, and most likely will be, Adrian Peterson.
Peterson is having an absolutely historic year. So far, he has rushed for 1,812 yards and 11 touchdowns. But a deeper dive into the stats shows something even more special.
Let's remember that Peterson suffered an ACL and MCL tear on December 24 of last year, and while he was always expected to be ready by Week 1, he was not expected to produce so much, so soon. As former coach Tony Dungy notes:
Leslie Frazier, his head coach, thought going into the season that he was going to have to put him on a pitch count — limit him, maybe give him 10 or 12 carries per game. But Adrian said, "No, coach — I am ready. I am strong, and I am ready to go."
The fact that Peterson is having this kind of success this soon after a major knee injury is impressive in itself. But there's more.
After a decent start in which he averaged about 83 yards in his first six games, Peterson took off, averaging 164 yards per game since. He has rushed for more than 200 yards in two of the last three games.
In addition, the Vikings have an absolutely woeful pass offense, the worst in the league. Christian Ponder is averaging 5.9 yards per pass. Peterson, on the other hand, is averaging 6.3 per attempt on the ground. Peterson is doing this with every defense keying to stop him.
Peterson is also in reach of Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards. Peterson needs to average 147 yards in the next two games. That shouldn't be too hard; in five of his last six games, he has rushed for over 147 yards.
Even if Peterson doesn't reach the magic number of 2,105, he should still be MVP. He's putting up historic numbers when every defense is gunning for him and when he still is not 100 percent. As John E. Hoover of the Tulsa World notes:
Peterson hasn't yet regained his elite speed. That will come. Still, it's clear that what he's doing right now has never been done before. By anyone.
While it's hard to imagine what Peterson will do when he is fully healthy, it is beyond clear that he is having the best season of anyone at any position in the NFL. He will surely win the Comeback Player of the Year—and with his historic, mind-boggling performance, there's no doubt that he should win MVP too.