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Can Adrian Peterson Rush For 2,000 Yards?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 19, 2012 – 7:31 am

In football, team goals always trump individual accomplishment. That is certainly the philosophy Leslie Frazier employs in guiding the Vikings, which is why the focus in Minnesota is squarely on the upcoming opponent – the Chicago Bears – and a final stretch of games that includes four of six on the road and four of six within the division.

But when you have a player the caliber of Adrian Peterson, and when you’re coming off a bye week, it’s fun to take a moment to appreciate greatness and wonder how far it can go. Consider this: Adrian Peterson has 1,128 rushing yards through 10 games, which puts him on pace for a career-best 1,804 yards. We all know he’s set a goal for himself to rush for 2,000+ yards in a season. So that begs the question, can Peterson rush for 2,000 yards this season?

I think he can. And that would be an unbelievable accomplishment, for several reasons.

First of all, there have been just 6 players in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards (OJ Simpson, Eric Dickerson, Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis, Jamal Lewis, Chris Johnson). Second of all, and more amazingly, Peterson is on pace for his career-high in rushing yards and is pushing for the 2,000-yard mark in the same season he’s come back from a severe knee injury that he suffered in Week 16 of last season.

To reach the 2,000-yard rushing mark this season, Peterson needs to rush for 872 yards over the final 6 games, which averages out to 145.3 yards per game. It’s insane to think someone could average 145.3 yards per game over an extended stretch, especially considering Peterson himself has averaged over 100 yards per game just one other time (2008) before this season. But we must also keep in mind that Peterson can accomplish insane things (see: comeback season, 2012). Also, Peterson has averaged 157.2 rushing yards per game over his last 4 contests and that pace would put him well over the 2,000-yard mark after 6 more games.

If Peterson gets to 2,000 yards, he will most certainly have earned it. The Vikings have 2 games remaining against the NFL’s 5th-best rushing defense (Chicago) and they face the NFL’s 2nd-best rushing defense (Houston) on the road. The other 2 opponents – Green Bay and St. Louis – rank 11th and 17th against the run, respectively. While these teams have generally done well against the run this season, there have been times of weakness. Both Chicago and Houston allowed Chris Johnson to run for 141 yards against them and St. Louis permitted 118 to Marshawn Lynch and 127 to Stevan Ridley.

Some may call it a stretch, but Peterson is within reach of 2,000 rushing yards. It would require an unbelievable final 6 games by Peterson to get there, but we all know #28 is certainly capable of accomplishing the unbelievable.


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