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Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Mike Sando's MVP Watch

By Mike Sando

Adrian Peterson
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has averaged 164.1 yards per game over his past eight games.
Adrian Peterson is making our weekly MVP discussion more compelling all the time.

The Minnesota Vikings' ligament-defying running back has rushed for 212, 210, 182, 171, 154, 153, 123, 108 and 102 yards in games this season. His total for those nine games would rank 11th among single-season totals over the past five years. His 1,812-yard total through 14 games this season already ranks 19th in NFL history.

Peterson, who suffered torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee last Christmas Eve, would top my list for most impressive player in the NFL this season. He would get my vote for comeback player of the year.

Yet, if the Vikings could trade Peterson for a top quarterback, they would be getting superior value in return. That is a primary reason quarterbacks continue to fill the top three spots in MVP Watch this week.

Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers upgrade their teams in ways even the greatest running back could not. That is the nature of the NFL.

I reach out to colleagues each week before compiling this list. This time, our NFC North man, Kevin Seifert, advocated Peterson for the No. 2 spot behind Manning. He explains his position further on the NFC North blog. AFC South counterpart Paul Kuharsky takes a different tack, noting that Tennessee's Chris Johnson commanded zero MVP votes while topping 2,000 yards rushing in 2009.

"If Johnson wasn’t worthy of a single vote just three seasons ago, what’s changed to make Peterson a bigger contender this year?" Kuharsky asks. "And considering the season J.J. Watt is having, if the Texans' defensive lineman can’t win it, I’m left wondering if, when and how a defender will ever win it again."

The more we learn about how games are won and lost in the NFL, the more we realize quarterback play is the key. As great as Peterson has been, the Vikings have generally won and lost based on how quarterback Christian Ponder has played.

Perhaps the "V" in MVP is carrying too much weight. Are we really talking about pure value, or should MVP honors simply go to the player posting the best season?