Just as the last running back to win MVP, LaDainian Tomlinson, did so on the strength of eye-popping numbers — 1,815 rushing yards, 508 receiving yards and an NFL-record 31 touchdowns, 28 on the ground — Peterson’s 2012 campaign is too extraordinary to be ignored.
I’m even willing to apply an old most valuable litmus test: Close your eyes and picture the Vikings without Peterson. Would they be anywhere near a wild-card berth? Would they have beaten the Rams last Sunday? Would Ponder and head coach Leslie Frazier be in danger of losing their jobs?
Now open your eyes and watch Peterson run, on this or any Sunday. He’ll make his case with clarity and ferocity, all day.
Imagine the Vikings without Peterson?
Okay, I just did. At worst they're probably 3-13 like they were last year. At best, they're struggling to make the wild card.
Imagine the Broncos without Manning? At worst they're probably 5-11 or 6-10; further, they're struggling to emerge from a cesspool that includes the Chiefs and Raiders.
At best? You're seeing it right now--they're quite possibly the best team in football.