Adrian Peterson is having another improbably breathtaking season, leading the NFL in rushing at age 30. At a time when running backs are supposed to be hitting a wall, he keeps running through people. And a guy some of us thought the Vikings would dump this past season as much for his mileage as his baggage continues to prove doubters wrong.
The last time he had a true "prove it" season, of course, it was much the same thing. In 2012, coming off a gruesome knee injury, Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards, willed the Vikings into the playoffs and won the league MVP award.
What's interesting is that Peterson isn't too far off his 2012 pace this season. But before we start wondering if he could outdo himself, let's take a closer look at the two seasons:
• Through 11 games in 2012, Peterson had ran 213 times for 1,236 yards. That's a per game average of 112 yards and a per carry average of 5.8 yards.
This year, he's rushed 237 times for 1,164 yards. That's a per-game average of 106 yards and a per carry average of 4.9 yards.
So he hasn't been as explosive. And he's still a little bit behind his 2012 pace. But yes, he's certainly within striking distance of his MVP season through 11 games. However …
• In 2012, over his final five regular-season games, Peterson rushed for a total of 861 yards. That's a per-game average of 172, which is astonishing and also happens to be the best five-game stretch of any point in his career.
To finish with 2,097 yards this season, as he did in 2012, Peterson would need to average 186.6 yards per game over his final five. To put that into perspective, Peterson only has eight games in his entire career in which he has rushed for at least 186 yards. Three of them came in the final five games of the 2012 season.
So yes, Peterson is within shouting distance of his 2012 pace through 11 games. But he'd have to top by nearly 15 yards per game the best five-game pace of his entire career to wind up matching his 2012 total, which came when he was three years younger and in the midst of an MVP season.
•Then again: I'm done doubting what Peterson is capable of on the football field. Just as he did in 2012, he seems to be getting better as this 2015 season goes along. He just shredded the Falcons, who had the NFL's No. 1-ranked run defense, and the Vikings have a few favorable matchups remaining.
And if Peterson "only" repeats his five most recent games (634 yards), he will finish 2 yards shy of 1,800 for the season. That would almost certainly clinch him the NFL rushing title, which would be the third time in NFL history a running back 30 or older won it.