NFL MVP 2013: Why Adrian Peterson Will Beat out Peyton Manning

Marques Eversoll@MJEversollAnalyst IJanuary 7, 2013

Adrian Peterson was the best player in the NFL this season. He should be the MVP.
Adrian Peterson was the best player in the NFL this season. He should be the MVP.Andy King/Getty Images

It was yet another memorable regular season in the NFL. From the infamous "Fail Mary" to Chuck Pagano's battle with leukemia, the 2012 season has been riddled with storylines.

But the most impressive on-field stories have been the play of Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and Vikings running back Adrian Peterson coming off injuries.

Peterson tore his ACL on Dec. 24, 2011 against the Washington Redskins. But less than nine months later on Sep. 9, Peterson rushed for a pair of touchdowns in the regular-season opener against the Jaguars.

In total, Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns. He fell just nine yards short of Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record and led the Vikings to the playoffs.

Before the season, not much was expected from the Minnesota Vikings. They had only one reliable wide receiver in Percy Harvin, their quarterback was an unproven second-year player and Peterson was coming off ACL surgery—something running backs typically struggle to come back from.

But Peterson bucked the trend and put the team on his back in 2012.

It wasn't as if Peterson surpassed 2,000 yards because the Vikings fed him the ball 40 times a game. Peterson's 348 carries were the second-most in the NFL, trailing only Texans running back Arian Foster's 351. Peterson ran for 673 more yards than Foster.

Redskins running back Alfred Morris was second in the NFL in rushing but still trailed Peterson by 484 yards.

The NFL MVP has been awarded to a quarterback nine out of the past 11 years. Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander won the award in 2005, then Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson won it in 2006.

If there's ever been a season in which a runner has out-shined the league's high-flying passing attacks, it's 2012. And the MVP should be Peterson.

Had Peterson's Vikings lost in Week 17 against the Packers, they'd have been knocked out of the playoffs and his MVP candidacy would have taken a significant hit. After all, it's hard to say someone is the "most valuable player" in a given league when his team is watching the playoffs from home.

But Peterson and the Vikings cracked the postseason. Christian Ponder showed flashes of brilliance during the 2012 season, but Peterson was the engine that made the offense go. Playmaking wide receiver Percy Harvin missed seven games in 2012, but the Vikings kept winning because of Peterson.

The same can be said about Manning's impact on the Broncos. Without Peyton Manning, this would be an offense struggling to find an identity.

After all, the team ran a college-style, run-heavy offense last year with Tim Tebow at quarterback. Now with Manning under center, this is one of the most dangerous offenses in football.

But there are a handful of quarterbacks that had similar statistically great seasons this year. No running back rivals Peterson's incredible 2012 campaign.

This is a quarterback-driven league. Offenses are putting up numbers at a rate that's never before been matched.

But let's not get away from the truth. Peterson, a running back, was the best player in football during the 2012 season. He deserves to be the NFL MVP.