Can Adrian Peterson break NFL rushing yards record?

Adrian Peterson

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Currently sitting at 1,600 rushing yards on the season, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has three games left in 2012 to break the NFL single-season rushing yards record.

The record, currently held by former St. Louis Rams great Eric Dickerson, stands at 2,106 yards. Although Peterson is on pace to end the season at 1,969 yards, he’s shown improved production over the last few weeks and has his sights set on Dickerson’s long-standing record.

If Peterson is going to break the record, he’ll have to do it against three stout run defenses. All of the Vikings’ next three opponents have defenses in the Top 15, including the Houston Texans, who are No. 2 in the league against the run. Even the Rams and Green Bay Packers are ranked No. 13 and No. 15, respectively.

Despite this apparent roadblock, there’s no telling what could happen on game day. So far this season, Peterson has racked up over 100 yards against some of the best run defenses in the league. He amassed 123 yards against the top-ranked Tampa Bay Buccaneers and has totaled 262 yards in two games against the Chicago Bears’ No. 12 ranked run defense. Peterson even managed 182 yards against the stout run defense of the No. 10 Seattle Seahawks. Regardless of what defense is standing in his way, Peterson has found ways to pick up big chunks of yardage and that’s why he’s in his current position.

The only thing that could keep him from turning in the NFL’s greatest single-season rushing effort is quarterback Christian Ponder. Since the midway point of the season, Ponder has struggled to get the Vikings’ air attack going. If he doesn’t flip a switch in the final three games, Minnesota’s remaining opponents will be able to flood the box and focus on slowing down Peterson.

It’s a stretch, but the opportunity still exists for Peterson to break the NFL rushing record, and in the biggest of ways. Even though the Vikings might not be one of the top contenders in the league, Peterson would be the clear-cut MVP leader if he could break the record less than a year after tearing his ACL and MCL.

Peterson is a superhuman, and whether he breaks the record or not, this season will go down as one of the best by a running back in NFL history.

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