There may be nothing more impressive than running for 2,097 yards and coming just nine yards shy of setting the NFL single-season rushing record, coming off a torn ACL, except, perhaps, how he racked up 409 of those yards against the Packers, a division opponent.
Despite these four teams having so much familiarity with each other—and the Minnesota Vikings lacking a legitimate aerial attack—Peterson was still able to do what he pleased against the NFC North.
This being said, he will be rendered useless on NFL Wild Card Weekend when the Vikings travel to play the Packers Saturday night at Lambeau Field.
There are five reasons that back up this absurd claim.
In the two games that pinned Minnesota and Green Bay against each other during the regular season, Packers’ safety Charles Woodson was absent, recovering from a fractured collarbone suffered in Week 7.
Well, Woodson has been cleared to play on Saturday, and his presence will have an impact on what Peterson and the Vikings want to do in the ground game.
While the Packers feature coverage gurus in Tramon Williams, Sam Shields and rookie sensation Casey Hayward, neither has shown the ability to bring down Peterson effectively. Woodson’s veteran presence and supreme tackling technique for a defensive back gives the Packers a huge shot in the arm.
This news has flown relatively under the radar, but Peterson isn’t exactly 100 percent for Saturday’s game.
Even though it’s likely more of a precaution, Peterson sat out practice Tuesday and Wednesday with a sore abdomen. As if coming off a devastating knee injury wasn’t enough, Peterson will be playing through pain once again—pain that may have cost him a prestigious NFL record.
The severity of these knocks may be minuscule, but anything that could possibly slow Peterson down works in Green Bay’s favor.
Yes, by this time of the season, just about everyone who went through the grind of a 16-game regular season is suffering from some variation of fatigue, but the lethargy Peterson must fight is on a different level.
Not only did Peterson have the second-most carries in the NFL, but he set a career high for rushes in a game on Sunday against the Packers with 34. The push Minnesota and Peterson made to break Eric Dickerson’s all-time rushing record took an extra toll on the potential MVP.
Combine this with the Vikings coming off a short week and fatigue will play a role in Peterson’s lack of production.
Thanks to heating coils installed beneath the playing surface, Lambeau Field isn’t exactly the Frozen Tundra anymore, but it’s still going to be pretty darn cold this weekend in Green Bay.
An expected, low temperature in the teens will make for some chilly conditions, especially with the 7 p.m. start time, and while this is usually known to affect the pass more than the run, colder weather has its impact on the game as a whole and typically makes for a lower-scoring affair.
Less scoring normally results in less yardage, and considering that Peterson will also be running on a slicker grass surface rather than his home turf, the elements will play a part in limiting Peterson.
The Packers need to contain Adrian Peterson in order to have a chance at stopping him, and defenders must be held accountable for their specific role in bringing down Peterson.
That includes preventing Peterson from getting outside and maintaining gap responsibility. As noted in this post by ESPN's Kevin Seifert, Green Bay struggled to remain disciplined in doing so.
You can guarantee that defensive coordinator Dom Capers has emphasized this time and time again during tape study, making sure his players trust one another to know their role in stopping Peterson.
Once a defender is in position to make a play, he must also remember to tackle him low, as Peterson’s upright and punishing running style makes it more difficult to bring him down with a high arm tackle.
Even though Green Bay allowed Peterson to come oh so close to setting the NFL rushing record, it was already on the right track in slowing him down. In their Week 13 matchup, Peterson averaged 10 yards per carry. On Sunday, that number was down to 5.9, which is still far too high, but a significant improvement, nonetheless.
The return of Charles Woodson gives the Packers a sure-fire tackler at the second level of the defense, an area that’s been a weakness for Green Bay against Peterson this season.
Don’t forget about that Green Bay offense, which has also been its best defense on occasion. With Aaron Rodgers’ entire receiving corps healthy this week for the first time in quite a while and some success being generated running the ball, draining that clock and getting off to a hot start is crucial in limiting Peterson’s production.
As the saying goes, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Fool me thrice? Now that would just be foolish.