MVP Watch: What about Adrian Peterson?

December, 19, 2012
12/19/12
10:45
AM ET
Mike Sando's weekly MVP Watch post has Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning atop the rankings. I agree with Sando's assessment, and yes, I'm well aware of the monster season Minnesota Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson is having.

My AFC South colleague Paul Kuharsky notes that Tennessee Titans tailback Chris Johnson didn't get a sniff of the MVP voting during his 2,000-yard season in 2009. The Titans were 8-8 that season, a record in the neighborhood of where the 8-6 Vikings could finish.

Much of this debate depends on how you define the award. If you see the MVP as the player who has the biggest impact on his team's winning percentage, to me that's Manning. He joined a team that went 8-8 last year, has produced one of the best seasons of his career and has the Broncos 11-3 with two games remaining.

[+] EnlargeAdrian Peterson
AP Photo/Seth PerlmanHis 909 yards after contact alone would put Adrian Peterson 13th among NFL rushers this season.
In a column this week, Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports wrote the MVP should go to "the athlete who has the best overall season, period." My inclination is to save that designation for the offensive and defensive player of the year awards, but here's what we all can agree on: Peterson has had a stunning season.

Below are a lucky 13 pieces of unique statistical documentation to support that statement, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information. It's so good that I'm basically just passing along the list verbatim. As a whole, it paints, well, a stunning picture.

Through 14 games this season, Peterson has:

  1. More rushing yards (1,313) from Week 7 through Week 15 than Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder has passing yards (1,093).
  2. Nine games with at least 100 yards, most of any player in the league.
  3. Six games with at least 150 rushing yards, or as many as the next three-closest players combined. Bryce Brown, Jamaal Charles and Arian Foster all have two. Only Earl Campbell (seven) has more games with 150-plus rushing yards in the Super Bowl era.
  4. A higher yards-per-rush average (6.3) than Ponder, John Skelton and Nick Foles have in yards-per-pass attempt averages.
  5. A total of 909 yards after contact. That would tie Steven Jackson for 13th in the NFL as a stand-alone rushing total. Peterson already has the most in the past three seasons (since data became available), with the previous high coming from Maurice Jones-Drew in 2011 (785 yards after contact).
  6. A 3.1 average on yards after contact per rush. That's higher than Rashad Jennings' yards-per-rush average (2.8), and is the highest by any player in a season since 2009, the year that data became available.
  7. A total of 1,103 rushing yards on first down, which would currently rank No. 9 as a stand-alone rushing total.
  8. Two 82-yard rushing touchdowns. He is the third player in NFL history with multiple rushing touchdowns of more than 80 yards in a season (Johnson in 2009 and Hugh McElhenny in 1952).
  9. Gained a first down when hit before the marker 39 times, most of any player in the league. Only 18 other players even have 39 total first downs.
  10. A total of 20 rushes of at least 20 yards, or as many as the two next-closest players combined. C.J. Spiller has 11 and Doug Martin has nine.
  11. Seven rushes of at least 50 yards, as many as Charles (two), Johnson (two), Martin (two) and Spiller (one) combined.
  12. A total of 582 rushing yards with at least eight defenders in the box, more than twice as many as the next-closest rusher (Frank Gore, 279).
  13. Been hit in the backfield 51 times but has gained 69 yards on those plays. The rest of the NFL has collectively lost 1,191 yards when hit in the backfield.

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