Before the season, the Minnesota Vikings were mentioned in the same company as the pathetic Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars. Many expected Minnesota to be a five-win team at best. It’s been three months since then, and they are now 8-6 with a chance at the postseason. Surprisingly, they currently sit as the sixth seed in the NFC with two games left to play.
Adrian Peterson is solely responsible for the Vikings’ success. He has put the team on his back all season long with his 1,812 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. As of today, the NFL MVP should not belong to Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. It belongs to Adrian Peterson.
Brady has had the benefit of a tremendous coaching staff and a highly ranked rushing attack in New England. Denver helps Peyton win games with a fourth-ranked defense led by linebacker Von Miller. Peterson gets no such help.
The Vikings are ranked 20th in total defense and feature the league’s worst passing attack. Many thought Christian Ponder had to progress substantially in order for the Vikings to contend for a playoff berth.
Instead, the Vikings' passing attack is ranked dead last in the NFL with only 168.1 yards per game. That is less production than even the laughable New York Jets. So how do the Vikings move the ball? How do they put any points up? How do they even win games?
Adrian Peterson wins games. If he were to be removed from the Vikings’ backfield, Minnesota would be in the conversation for the league’s worst teams. Peterson nullifies the Vikings' deficiencies because his running ability features big plays and allows the Vikings to improve their time of possession. If he were not in Minnesota, the Vikings would immediately lose all of their big-play ability and their 20th-ranked defense would be on the field a lot more often, resulting in more yards and points allowed.
Peterson made a very flawed team a playoff contender in 2012. If he is taken away from the Vikings, winning simply does not happen in Minnesota.