Certainly one of the stories of this season has been the incredible comeback by Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson from a devastating knee injury suffered late last year. The accepted truth is that it generally takes a world-class athlete some 18 months to fully recover from such an injury. Yet there was Peterson starting in Week 1 for the Vikings, and he is in the conversation for NFL MVP, Offensive Player of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year.
Peterson has already said he wants and expects to break Eric Dickerson’s NFL single-season rushing record of 2,105 rushing yards set in 1984 with the Rams. Despite some very mediocre quarterback play from Christian Ponder and defenses geared especially to stop him, Peterson is on track to do it. Bovada will offer a prop this week on whether he does.
Currently, Peterson leads the NFL with a career-high 1,812 yards, or 294 short of breaking Dickerson’s record. In Sunday’s win at the St. Louis Rams, Peterson had 212 rushing yards. Over the past eight games, he has rushed for a whopping 1,313 yards, the most over any eight-game span in league history. His season total is the fifth-best through 14 games, trailing Hall of Famers O.J. Simpson (2,003 in 1973, 1,817 in 1975), Jim Brown (1,863 in 1963) and Walter Payton (1,852 in 1977). Dickerson had 1,792 after 14 games in his record-breaking season.
Peterson has rushed for at least 100 yards in eight straight games, a Vikings record, including two 200-yard games. In a mind-blowing statistic, Peterson has rushed for more yards in that stretch than Ponder has thrown for. Minnesota closes the regular season at Houston and home against Green Bay. The Texans have the No. 5 rush defense in the NFL and the Packers No. 14. Peterson rushed for 210 yards in the first meeting with Green Bay this season.
Peterson isn’t the only NFC North player having an unthinkable season. Lions receiver Calvin Johnson had 121 yards receiving in Sunday’s loss at Arizona, his seventh straight with at least triple digits. That’s tied with Charley Hennigan and Michael Irvin for the NFL record. Megatron also has 1,667 receiving yards, the first player in 47 years with 1,600 through his team’s first 14 games.
Former 49ers great Jerry Rice holds the NFL single-season mark with 1,848 receiving yards set in 1995. Will Johnson break it? Look for a prop on that. His Lions, who have been vast disappointments this season, close at home against the Atlanta Falcons and Chicago Bears. Johnson was held to a season-low 34 yards in the Lions’ first meeting with Chicago.
The 2007 Patriots set the NFL scoring mark with 589 points during the regular season. Will the 2012 Pats break it? Look for a prop on that. New England leads the NFL by a wide margin with 506 points, or 36.1 per game (only team over 30.0). Their 108 points against the Jets and Colts in Weeks 11-12 was the best two-game mark in team history. New England finishes at Jacksonville and home against Miami. The Jaguars rank No. 29 in the NFL, allowing 27.4 points per game. The Dolphins are No. 6 at 19.9 and allowed 23 to the Patriots in Week 13.
Finally, there is some defense being played in 2012. Houston’s J.J. Watt and San Francisco’s Aldon Smith each have 19.5 sacks. The NFL record was set in 2001 by the New York Giants’ Michael Strahan with 22.5 (Minnesota’s Jared Allen came up just short last year with 22.0). Look for a prop on whether Smith or Watt breaks it. The 49ers finish at Seattle and home to Arizona, which has one of the worst offensive lines in recent NFL memory. The Texans finish home to Minnesota and at Indianapolis.