NFL MVP 2012: Adrian Peterson's Remarkable Season Must End in Ultimate Honor

Ian Hanford@Ian_HanfordFeatured ColumnistDecember 18, 2012

ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 16: Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings runs with the ball against the St. Louis Rams during the game at Edward Jones Dome on December 16, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Vikings won 36-22 as Peterson rushed for 212 yards. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Someone tell Adrian Peterson that he tore his ACL last season, because he doesn't seem to have any idea.

Peterson hasn't just returned from a devastating ACL injury; he has come back better than ever. He's already set a career high in rushing yards, with 1,812, to go along with 11 touchdowns. He also has the second-most receptions of his career, with 38.

Those are MVP-caliber numbers, but there are other factors to consider.

Peterson's injury has to be talked about when voting for the league's most valuable player. He returned as some superhuman form of himself after suffering an injury from which some ball-carriers never completely recover.

On top of that, Peterson is on the verge of a record-breaking season. Eric Dickerson ran for 2,105 yards in 1984, and no player has cleared that mark since. That includes a lot of seasons and a lot of talented ball-carriers, but nobody has been able to break that barrier.

But Peterson might do it.

He needs to average 146.5 rushing yards in his final two games to make that happen, and it's possible when you consider that he's run for 200-plus in two of his past three games.

It can't be the only thing that you consider, but breaking a longstanding record has to count for something. When you combine it with his injury, it should count for even more.

Peyton Manning and Tom Brady both deserve their due, without a doubt, and as quarterbacks they will get it. But the Vikings would be pitiful without Peterson running the ball.

J.J. Watt and his astounding defensive abilities must be considered as well, but he also pales in comparison to what Peterson has accomplished on a week-by-week basis (as is often the plight of defensive players when it comes to MVP voting).

Christian Ponder hasn't taken the next step in his development. He has no one to look for down the field, and the Vikings defense partially relies on Peterson's ground game to control the clock and keep it off the field.

Minnesota wouldn't be the worst team in the NFL, but there's no doubting his value in that case.

Watching Peterson rip off big game after big game has been truly remarkable this season. It was nearly impossible to see coming, yet part of me says it should have been easy to predict, given what we've have seen from Peterson in the past.

Peterson's violent running style is oddly poetic. He is a bull in the china closet, but he makes it look so graceful at times.

A handful of guys are in the consideration for MVP, but he's the only one who should take home the NFL's highest individual honor.