Probably no team in the NFL relies more on one running back to carry the entire offense than the Minnesota Vikings do with likely future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson. He is given a total of 1,310.5 yards for 2016 on NFL odds.
Peterson Bucks Age 30 Trend
It's common knowledge that a running back's career in the NFL -- if they even make it that long -- is supposed to fall off a cliff once said player turns 30. That's the magic number for when all that physical beating a running back takes finally catches up to him. You rarely see a back put up big numbers at 30 or older.
I'll give you a fairly recent example. Seattle's Shaun Alexander had a monster 2005 season when he was 28 years old, rushing for an NFL-best 1,880 yards and a whopping 27 touchdowns in winning NFL MVP honors. He never approached 1,000 yards again and was out of the league barely more than two years later, released by the Washington Redskins.
San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson won a second straight rushing title in 2007 at age 28. He also was never the same after that. The list goes on and on. These running backs take several hits every time they touch the ball -- and sometimes when they don't, on pass protection.
That's what made last season so impressive for Peterson. He helped lead the Vikings to a surprise NFC North title by rushing for a league-best 1,485 yards to become the second-oldest player in history to win an NFL rushing title, at the age of 30 years and 289 days. The only older was Hall of Famer Curtis Martin, who was 31 years old when he won the rushing title in 2004 with the New York Jets. It was Peterson's third career rushing title, tying him on the all-time list with Hall of Famer Earl Campbell, another great running back who is from Texas like Peterson is.
Peterson had the title locked up entering his Week 17 game in Green Bay, which the Vikings surprisingly won to take the division, but added 67 yards against the Packers to finish 83 yards ahead of No. 2 Doug Martin of Tampa Bay. Peterson's other two rushing titles came in 2008 (1,760 yards) and 2012 (2,097 yards) when he was named the NFL MVP and came up just short of Eric Dickerson's single-season record of 2,105. Peterson is +4000 on NFL odds to win this year's MVP.
What I believe helped Peterson was the fact he was suspended for all but Game 1 of the 2014 season due to some child abuse in Texas for how Peterson disciplined his young son. Peterson was able to rest up his body and get recharged. For a while there, it looked like he would never play for the Vikings again as both he and his agent said they wanted out because they felt the team threw Peterson under the bus regarding that incident. Peterson has made no secret of his desire to play for his favorite team growing up, the Dallas Cowboys. But the sides made up and all's well that ends well.
Could Peterson repeat as rushing king and top that total of 1,310.5 yards? He has a few benefits. First is that he doesn't have to play outdoors in the potential winter weather of Minneapolis this season. The Vikings played outdoors in 2014-15 at the University of Minnesota while their new domed stadium was being built. It's ready now. Perfect conditions can only help a veteran running back. In addition, the Vikings are going to pound the ball because that's their identity under head coach Mike Zimmer. Only three teams had more rushing attempts than Minnesota's 474 in 2015: Carolina (526), Buffalo (509) and Seattle (501). Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater has some promise but isn't really the type of quarterback to beat a team by himself. He's more of a game manager.
It also helps Peterson that he gets those six games vs. NFC North foes Detroit, Chicago and Green Bay, none of which has a great run defense. In fact, looking at Minnesota's schedule, I see only three likely excellent defensive teams in stopping the run on it: Carolina, Houston, and Arizona. The Vikings have a 2016 wins total of 9.5 on NFL picks.
On the negative side, well, Peterson is now 31 and really slowed down late last season with just a single 100-yard game in his final five. He also was quiet in the playoff loss to Seattle.
don't happen to think Peterson is able to play all 16 games as he usually misses at least a couple due to injury. The Vikings also want to get backup Jerick McKinnon some touches.
Free NFL Pick: 'Under' that total.