From the very start of his exceptional career, Adrian Peterson has been compared to Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson. And now, as Peterson is shocking the football world with his best season yet less than a year after blowing out his knee, AP is setting his sights on Dickerson's most celebrated record.
Rather than focusing on becoming the seventh running back in NFL history to hit 2,000 yards (AP2K?), Peterson has said this week that he's targeting Dickerson's single-season rushing yards record of 2,105.
Let's break it down, first looking at what Peterson has to do to become the second-oldest back in NFL history to hit the 2,000-yard mark.
He currently has 1,600 yards on the dot. To hit 2,000, he'll have to average 133.4 yards per game over the final three weeks. Technically, he's only on pace for 1,969 yards with an average of 123.1 yards per game. But that's not a strong indicator of Peterson's chances, because he only hit the 100-yard mark once in his first six games but has done so seven weeks in a row since then.
During that seven-week span, AP has averaged 157.3 yards per outing, and he's surpassed that 133.4 mark on five of those seven occasions.
The bad news is that even that pace isn't good enough to get him to Dickerson's record of 2,105. That would, instead, only get him to 2,071, which would be the second-highest single-season total in football history.
To break the record, Peterson will have to average 168.7 yards over the next three games. Even in the last three games, he's been short of that average at 157.3, and he's never had more yards in one three-game stretch than this recent one. But that total of 472 falls short of the 506 he'd have to accumulate in order to become the new single-season record holder.
So statistically, the odds favor Peterson hitting 2,000 but falling short of 2,105.
A look at his final three opponents:
Week 15: At St. Louis – The Rams have done a good job in recent weeks against guys like Frank Gore, C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. They rank 13th in the league in run defense but are tied for eighth in terms of yards allowed per rushing attempt.
Week 16: At Houston — Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Joique Bell have recently had some success against a solid Houston defense, but the Texans shut down a fairly hot Chris Johnson in Week 13. They rank in the top 10 in terms of both rushing yards allowed per game and per carry.
Week 17: Vs. Green Bay – Peterson had an amazing 210-yard game against the Packers just two weeks ago, and this is a D that has also struggled lately with backs like Ahmad Bradshaw, Andre Brown, Mikel Leshoure and Bell. Green Bay ranks 15th in the league when it comes to rushing yards allowed per game, but they've surrendered a mediocre 4.5 yards per attempt.
Peterson could benefit greatly from the fact that all three of those games will be held indoors. The opposing defenses aren't easy, but I wouldn't rule anything out.