Falcons-Vikings: Turner and Peterson Clash in MVP Showdown

Derek CoffeltSenior Analyst IDecember 19, 2008

This Sunday's contest between the Atlanta Falcons and the Minnesota Vikings could not be more important for both teams. Both of them need the victory but for different reasons.

For the Vikings, it is simple. Win and they are in. For the Falcons, the picture is more cloudy.

With the Carolina Panthers all but clinching the NFC South, Atlanta needs some help along with a victory against the Vikings. Currently, the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers hold the two Wild Card spots in the NFC. There simply isn't any more room for Atlanta.

However, with an Atlanta win and a loss by either one of those teams, it could punch Atlanta's ticket into the January dance. The most probable scenario being Dallas losing to the tough hitting Baltimore Ravens.

While the media continues to air the soap opera that is the Cowboys locker room, they simply do not have any leadership to sustain their lofty playoff hopes.

The scenario of Tampa Bay losing is obviously still possible, but unlikely. They welcome in the San Diego Chargers who are just barely holding onto any playoff hopes after their incredible 22-21 win over the Chiefs.

You tell me. Which is more probable?

Aside from the massive playoff implications, another side bar is growing from sidelines. The MVP race.

No doubt Michael Turner has become a huge part of the Falcons' offense. There's no doubt he's one of the primary catalysts in the huge success and turnaround Atlanta has had. There IS doubt to whether or not he can compete with the NFL's leading rusher for the coveted award. 

The edge in pure rushing yardage is in favor of Peterson, but only slightly. He leads Turner by barely over 150 yards. What helps Turner is his 15 touchdowns compared to Peterson's nine.

A significant difference.

Both running backs have had the benefit of a partner in the backfield this year. Chester Taylor for Peterson and Jerious Norwood for Turner. However, Michael Turner is actually ahead of Peterson in terms of carries with 332, compared with Peterson's 320. 

Putting the numbers aside, what do these two running backs mean to their team? Both are a huge part of their offense and taking them out would drastically reduce their offensive output. However, Atlanta's Matt Ryan has shown that he can take control of a game with his golden arm.

Taking Adrian Peterson out of the Minnesota offense would more than likely bring the team to its knees, as Tarvaris Jackson's four touchdown performance last week was an utter apparition.

So here's the dilemma. Michael Turner has the edge in terms of rushing touchdowns but Adrian Peterson seemingly is THE offense for Minnesota. The answer could come this Sunday as the two square off in an MVP showdown.

With Pat Williams out for the Vikings and Jared Allen nursing an injured knee, Turner's chances look optimistic for a productive offensive day. However, that optimism should be held in check as he is still facing a team that is ranked first in rush defense.

The outcomes of these two teams could prove to show who will obtain the MVP between Peterson and Turner.