Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson runs 82 yards for a touchdown… (Carlos Gonzalez / Minneapolis…)
Adrian Peterson is closing in on Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record, which has stood for nearly 30 years.
Dickerson rushed for 2,105 yards for the L.A. Rams in 1984. Peterson has a career-high 1,812 already this year for the Minnesota Vikings with two games remaining.
Can Peterson pull it off?
To do so, Peterson will need to average 147 yards a game. While his season average of 129.4 yards a game won't cut it, that number is a bit misleading because he spent the first several weeks working his way back after suffering two torn ligaments last Christmas Eve.
Peterson ran for just 83.2 yards a game the first six weeks of the season but has averaged 164.1 yards per outing since. He has surpassed the 147-yard mark in each of the last three games (going for more than 200 in two of those) and five of the last six.
Of course, we have to take into account the Vikings’ opponents in the final two games of the regular season -- the Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers.
The Texans present a pretty big challenge, allowing just 93.2 rushing yards a game (fifth in the NFL). But then again, Peterson hung 212 yards Sunday on a St. Louis Rams defense that had not allowed anyone to rush for more than 65 in their previous four games.
The Packers aren't too bad against the run either, giving up 114.3 yards a game (14th in the NFL). But try telling that to Peterson, who put up 210 against Green Bay just two weeks ago.
So will Peterson be able to knock Dickerson down to the No. 2 spot on the all-time list? Sorry, Eric, but most signs seem to point to yes.
[Updated at 10:03 a.m.:
Dan Pompei, Chicago Tribune
In order for Adrian Peterson to dethrone Eric Dickerson, he will need to average 147 yards over his last two games. The Texans have the fifth-best run defense in the NFL, and the Packers have the 14th best.
But it really doesn't matter who the opponent is when Peterson gets rolling. And it really doesn't matter how many defenders they squeeze into the box. He's that good. A bigger factor might be if the Vikings find themselves playing catch-up. If they feel they need to throw to get back in a game, Peterson might not get as many chances as he needs.
What he really needs in order to break Dickerson's record are a few runs of more than half the field. If he gets his chances, he’ll get those runs. And the record.
Ron Fritz, Baltimore Sun
Instantly, I was going to say no, that Adrian Peterson isn’t going to catch Eric Dickerson because the Vikings face one of the best run-stopping defenses in the NFL in Week 16 -- the Houston Texans. The Texans only give up around 93 yards a game. But on Sunday they were gashed for 105 yards by some rookie named Vick Ballard of the Indianapolis Colts. Sorry, Vick, but you’re no Adrian Peterson.
In the final game, the Vikings face the Green Bay Packers, who haven't been horrible against the run, giving up about 114 yards a game to rank 14thin the NFL. That includes facing Peterson in Week 13 and watching him run all over them for 210 yards in 21 carries. So Peterson needs 294 yards in the final two games to pass Dickerson.
The Texans and Packers will load up to stop Peterson, as has every team he's faced this season. He's the only one on the Vikings who can beat them. Yet he's still rushed for more than 1,800 yards after being eased into the first four games coming off his ACL injury. After 30 years of holding this record, it's time to move aside, Eric.
Omar Kelly, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Adrian Peterson is the greatest tailback of this decade, and maybe my lifetime. And, yes, I’ve taken Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith into account.
Being the best of this generation is the only way to put what Peterson has accomplished so far in proper perspective. And that's with or without him breaking Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record, which has stood for nearly 30 years.
I'm pretty sure Peterson won’t break Dickerson's record because he'd need to average 147 rushing yards a game, and that’s against a lot of eight-man boxes. Houston and Green Bay have good 3-4 defenses that should be able to contain him to just 100 yards and change.
He’s averaging 129.4 rushing yards a game, and that’s after working his way back from serious knee injury he suffered last Christmas Eve.
Even if Peterson doesn’t take down Dickerson's record, he is deserving of MVP consideration for the way he's single-handedly kept Minnesota afloat.]
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