If the Minnesota Vikings make the playoffs this season, Adrian Peterson should be named the 2012 NFL MVP.
The 8-6 Vikings currently hold the NFC's final wild-card spot leading up to matchups against the Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers, but they wouldn't even be in the vicinity of a playoff spot without the man affectionately known as "AP."
Peterson has been out of this world this season. He's rushed for an NFL-best 1,812 yards in 14 games, over 400 more yards than second-place Marshawn Lynch. He's added 11 rushing touchdowns while averaging 6.3 yards per carry. Nobody in the top 24 in carries has averaged more yards per carry than Peterson (Lynch is second with 5.1).
On top of that, Peterson has notched eight straight games of 100 yards or more. He's had two games of 200 yards or more in that span (he rushed for 210 yards on 21 carries against the Green Bay Packers and 212 yards on 24 carries against the St. Louis Rams last week).
What makes these numbers even more astounding is that the Vikings have had virtually no passing game this season. Second-year quarterback Christian Ponder has struggled mightily, averaging 5.95 yards per pass attempt (34th among 35 qualifying quarterbacks) while tossing 14 touchdowns to 12 interceptions.
Every opponent knows the secret to stopping the Vikings is stopping Adrian Peterson. Yet, despite stacking the box nearly every game, Peterson continues to burn them, making a mockery of NFL defenses everywhere.
The likely top contenders to snatch the MVP award away from Peterson this season are Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Both have had fantastic seasons in a year when there are several deserving MVP candidates.
But imagining this Vikings team without Peterson this season is hard to fathom...and hard to stomach, frankly. There is no way Minnesota should have eight wins at this point and be in position to make the playoffs.
As tremendous of a season as Peterson has had, it would be hard for me to give the MVP to him if the Vikings fail to make the playoffs. But if they do, especially going up against two strong foes in the Texans and Packers the next two weeks, the MVP award should be handed to AP on a silver platter.
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