Tag Archives: Minnesota Vikings

Monday Morning Breeze: The Revolution Will Be Caught One-Handed

[(MOST IMPORTANT NOTE: The Breeze will recap CFB’s Alabama-Clemson National Championship game on Tuesday, so this will be Professional Football-heavy, or College-Deflated, depending how you choose to see the glass re: -imisms) It’s near impossible to miss the unfolding humor in a reality that pits America’s Most Traditionally Revered NFL team against the steaming pile of toxic that has been Daniel Snyder’s Washington Trumps, in D.C., for a wild-card playoff game.

When you add the fact that a prominent Packer player is named “Ha Ha Clinton-Dix” while Hillary stumps for the 2016 Democratic Presidential nomination, I mean, clearly Fate’s got a warped thing for the wickedly absurd. So what could prepare us for an NFL Wild-card weekend that lived up to its name? Where Ace Ventura jokes became re-relevant (“laces out”) making my heart gently weep for Minnesota’s Blair Walsh Project, where it seems everyone wants to be like ODB Jr whether it’s receivers vying for his “Best Ever Catch ‘Til Tomorrow” crown, or Vontaze’s Burfict crime-ing for his “Grossest Cheap Shot” frown, where all he does is Russell Wilson Seattle to wins (or perhaps Faith’s wind), while the Bengals missed Double-Deuce Dalton more than the time it takes to restore sore thumbs, Pack Nation slumbers well ’cause Aaron Rodgers remembered how to kinda throw again, some.

To playoff football let’s succumb. Enter to the beating drum of your heart’s hum and maybe find fun…

NFL PLAYOFFS PORTION OF THE PROGRAM

NFL Playoffs Games of the Week (Wild-card Round) Kansas City Chiefs 30 @ Houston Texans 0 So it was, ho hum, on the very first kickoff of the very first ho hum playoff game KNILE DAVIS EXPLODES THROUGH A MASSIVE HOLE AND ho hum RETURNS IT ONE-HUNDRED AND SIX FREAKING YARDS FOR THE TD. Houston was never really close on the majority of this play or for the rest of the game as Kansas City would never relinquish that lead, with the helpful, steady hand of Alex Smith leading the way and the woefully unsteady hand of Bryan Hoyer (4 picks, yikes!) leaving the Texans exposed like a butterfly filet of poor play.

Jon Gruden quote of the day: “JJ Watt’s battling a bad groin injury.” Look, Watt’s an incredible player, but even he can’t fight a Kansas City O-line AND tangle with one of those “bad groin injury” things at the same time.

Pittsburgh Steelers 18 @ Cincinnati Bengals 16 An enchanting, angry contest. Part 1 of “Insane Catches by Incredible Wideouts,” and Vontaze’s Rage. This story told with the help of Vine’s visuality. We’ll start with the uglier portions of the game and finish with the beauty of Martavis’ gorgeous holy-roller TD catch. In all, it seems Andy Dalton will still get blamed for another 1st round exit, even though he wasn’t playing. We begin with one Vontaze Burfict losing his famously hot-tempered mind, producing a near clone of the ODB Jr. cheap-ass headshot, this time on Antonio Brown…

..but “Oh by the way” Burfict was way more egregious, disgusting, with this cheap headshot on Maxx Williams in a previous game versus the Ravens. Careful, it’s disturbing…

https://vine.co/v/iMWPBbFYELr

…and continuing the ugly parade, Pittsburgh ASSISTANT COACH Mike Munchak, yes, a coach, ripping some of Reggie Nelson’s dreads, rightfully pissing him right off…

…but thank all that’s True and Right in the world for Martavis Bryant’s incredible athleticism, focus, and brilliance all on display on this catch in the 3rd quarter, possibly trumping Beckham’s one-handed stab heard ’round the world…

Seattle Seahawks 10 @ Minnesota Vikings 9 This game will forever be remembered (by me) as “The Blair Walsh Project,” but it also included Part 2 of “Incredible Catches by Amazing Wideouts” and one of the more unlikely turning-point plays in recent history. First off, it looked cold as freezer burn in Minn-eh-sot-ah, -3 degrees for much of the game, with breath bursting from the entire stadium’s mouths like 80,000 proud vapers.

While their defense was its usual stout self, Seattle came out slightly resembling a steaming crater of ineptitude on offense. Then the play below happened, which appears to foreshadow more terror for Wilson and the ‘Hawks offense. Except he’s Macklemore uncommonly composed Russ Wilson, even in the face of certain peril, proving once again on this play why he’s so valuable to Mr. Pete Carroll and the ‘Hawks. For a little forced imagination, think of how 99.9% of the time the QB/center shotgun exchange is botched like this it results in, at best, a sack.

Instead, picture this reality where Wilson recovers smoothly, calmly baseball slides, retrieving the ball and springing back up in one swift motion, rolls away from oncoming defenders, looks downfield and fires a strike to a wide-open Tyler Lockett for the game-changing play. Seattle would go on to a TD and huge momentum swing, injecting life into their moribund offense and turning the tides of what was shaping up to be a certain Viking victory.

Yeah, I believe in momentum, F Nate Silver on this topic, and this was a huge swing in a game largely dictated by field position.

…then Adrian Peterson fumbles on the ensuing Viking possession, and SEA recovers with 10:30 left in the 4th.

…oh by the way Doug Baldwin becomes a bent Beckham-like wizard and makes this incredible one-hander…

…although Chase Coffman proves there should be some kinda permit receivers have to earn to attempt one-handed catch, like a driver’s license, ’cause he tries to be like Doug B. but instead makes an interception so easy…

Trailing Seattle 10-9 very late in the 4th quarter, Kyle Rudolph beat Kam Chancellor in man coverage for a huge first down catch (vindication for Chancellor getting away with a clear hold on Rudolph earlier), putting the Vikings in money-FG position for the certain game-winner. It was a kick that 99.6% of the time would’ve been a Blair Walsh layup 3-pointer. In a kinder, gentler reality Walsh nails the kick, the Vikings win, slay the 2-time Super Bowl Seahawks and move on to the next round.

In this harsher, cruel, coooold reality Walsh shanks the kick so badly left of the uprights, like a boomerang that didn’t go where it was supposed to and never came back, allowing America to brush the 8-inch thick dust off every Scott Norwood and Ace Ventura joke no longer forgotten to mankind. I understand Walsh is a professional, paid a ton of money to make that kick. He has to make that kick. But damn, I just feel bad for him.

Green Bay Packers 35 @ Washington Cousins/Trumps 18
This game started with a bizarre “DeSean Jackson scores but doesn’t” on a catch and run where he crossed the goal line near the pylon but crossed too far and stepped first out of bounds while holding the ball back pre-goal line. Green Bay went on to hold Washington to a field goal and early momentum. However, Green Bay’s offense was dormant for much of the first half until Aaron Rodgers started hooking up hardcore with Davante Adams and James Jones (don’t worry, Olivia Munn) and headed into halftime up 17-11 after giving up a safety.

In the second half, the Packers could not cover Washington’s Jordan Reed, who played incredibly (9 catches, 120 yards) with Kirk Cousins putting the Washingtons up 18-17 with a QB run. As the second half wore on though, Green Bay wrested control away, shutting down Washington’s attack, pounding Washington’s D with a steady diet of Lacy and Starks, and squeezing just enough juice out of A-Rod’s recovering air raid to coast comfortably into the next round. Kirk Cousins and the Washingtons were kinda like Leo here, at the Golden Globes: they won their division, had home-field against the Pack, everyone was lauding them for pulling through the RGIII fiasco.

They’re laughing, they’re having a good time, sitting nearer the top than they’ve been in a while. Meanwhile Rodgers and the Pack were like Lady Gaga: they just hadn’t looked like their typically dangerous self after blazing to a 6-0 start to the season before dropping 4 of their next 5 and finishing 2nd in the NFC North.

But oh, never forget about the beautiful power of Aaron Rodgers and the Pack, as they approach laughing Leo/Washington all the way from the forgotten back, shimmering the entire way as they (purposefully?) knock the Snyder’s over-extended elbow out of the way, smirking a triumphant return to the next round with a future full of promise, leaving Leo and the Snyders meekly grimacing in their wake.

https://vine.co/v/iMApWTgWgvL

THIS WEEK’S SIGN SOMETHING’S ASKEW IN THE WORLD

https://vine.co/v/iMm2OdgxwAK

Selfishly Sprayed Tweets Peak at Past Week

I’m Sorry Chiefs

After being married to my gorgeous wife for going on four years now I’ve learned two valuable lessons; when to know you’re wrong and then apologize for it. Thanks to this lesson, I have no problem admitting that I was dead wrong about the Kansas City Chiefs after their week six loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

At 1-5 on the season the Chiefs playoff hopes where down to less than 5% and showed no signs of a potential turn around in the future. In the Super Bowl Era only one NFL team has made the playoffs after starting 1-5 or worse and that was the 1970 Cincinnati Bengals. Before the season I had predicted the Chiefs to go 11-5 and get their first playoff win since 1993. After the Vikings loss the record prediction looked impossible and the chance of even making the playoffs had dropped to less than 5%.

It was out of frustration and anger for the Chiefs playing so far below my expectations that I was ready to blow up the 2015 season. I saw no reason to hope they could recover this season to do anything but hurt their draft position. With that in mind I was ready to phone it in the rest of the year. I called for Aaron Murray to be the Chiefs starting quarterback for the rest of the season. I wanted any veteran not likely to return next year to get benched for young players who needed a long look to see if they could be building blocks for 2016.

I had decided that I wanted Andy Reid fired at the end of the season. After week six it was clear to me that the league had passed him by with his offense averaging less than fifteen points a game. Even if Reid was allowed to keep his job I was sure he at least needed to hand the play calling duties over to offensive coordinator Doug Pederson. The other glaring hole on the coaching staff had come on the defensive side as most of Kansas City was calling for defensive coordinator Bob Sutton to get fired after his defense had been torched all year. I don’t want to say it was as bad as the 2012 season where banners were being flown over the stadium before games calling for major changes. That team went 4-12 and saw the general manager and coaching staff being fired. Even at 1-5 this season wasn’t as bad as that year, but it wouldn’t have surprised me if banner flying companies hadn’t been at least contacted about prices.

Something happened after that week six loss to the Vikings, as since that defeat the Chiefs have won six games in a row. During their six game winning streak the Chiefs offense is averaging over thirty points per game while the defense is only giving up an average of less than fourteen points a game. The Chiefs offense has not only been putting up points but it has been fun to watch for the first time in years. Despite losing Jamaal Charles for the season to a torn ACL, backups Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware have combined for over a 100 yards a game since he went down. Alex Smith has not only stopped turning the ball over (305 pass attempts in a row without an INT) but he’s done it while throwing the ball down field more than he has in the previous three seasons combined.

The defense has become the shutdown defense most fans expected before the season started. Derrick Johnson has gotten in his groove and is back to blowing up running backs in the backfield. The Chiefs pass rush has been found and is applying pressure to quarterbacks on almost every play. Eric Berry seems to have fully recovered from cancer and currently ranked as the number one safety in the league according to the Pro Football Focus ranking system. First round draft choice Marcus Peters is making a strong case to be the defensive rookie of the year while playing opposite the Chiefs other shutdown corner Sean Smith.

As week fourteen kicks off, the Chiefs have to be considered one of the best teams in football. This is a far cry from their 1-5 start in which I was calling for a house cleaning at the end of the season. As I’ve had to say many times to my wife, I would like to tell the Chiefs that I was wrong and I apologize for my lack of faith. As a Kansas City fan I should have known better. I just watched the Kansas City Royals win the World Series for the first time in 30 years. The Royals won the title by having many come from behind wins in the playoffs as well as being overlooked for most of the season as a fluke team. The Chiefs are now doing the same thing and I should have never doubted them. So I am sorry Andy, Alex and the rest of the Chiefs. This season has been a roller coaster and with the playoffs in sight it should only get better. So I’m strapping myself in and ready to go on this ride no matter where it takes me.

What Lies Ahead for the Green Bay Packers

As the NFL season turns for home in week 14, the Green Bay Packers (8-4) control their own destiny to win the NFC North and secure a home playoff game. To most teams and fans this would be an enviable position to be in, but with the way the Packers have been playing and half of the remaining games against Arizona (10-2) and division rival Minnesota (8-4), this week’s matchup with the Dallas Cowboys (4-8) in Green Bay suddenly becomes a very important game to win.

With Packers fans still coming down from the emotional high after a 61 yard walk-off hail mary win against the Lions (4-8) a week ago, reality begins to set in for what still lies ahead in the final stretch of the season. Unless you turned on the game just in time to see the final play last week (that would have been desirable), you are aware that the Packers have not yet fixed the same issues that have been plaguing their offensive efficiency for much of the season.

Dec 3, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Green Bay Packers tight end Richard Rodgers (82) catches a game winning touchdown pass from quarterback Aaron Rodgers (not pictured) during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Green Bay won 27-23. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

To think how much worse things would look after a loss to the Lions last week, sitting at 7-5, only ahead in the Wild Card race by 1 game, paints a much darker picture for the remainder of the season. That would leave even less room for error in these final four games, and serves to underscore how important getting a win this week will be to the Packers achieving what still lies before them:

  • Winning the NFC North for a fourth consecutive year
  • Hosting a home playoff game at Lambeau Field
  • Earning a 1st round playoff bye

All still attainable, the Pack currently lead for the first two with the tie-breaker over Minnesota. They are two games behind Arizona for the 1st round bye as of now. Pending what Arizona does in the same span, they’d have a chance to pull even with them and gain the tiebreaker with a win in the desert in week 16. To be honest I’m not entirely sure who Packers fans should be rooting for in the Minnesota @ Arizona game this weekend, but a case could be made for either. Of course, completely collapsing and missing the playoffs all together or having to go on the road in a wild card game is still mathematically possible as well. I don’t believe that will happen, but after far too many uninspiring performances this year, feeling confident about achieving any of the aforementioned goals is a stretch.

After this week’s games are complete, many of the playoff seeding scenarios will begin to be more clear. As much as I dislike typical football coach interview cliches such as “one game at a time”, it all starts with getting a win this week in what is most likely going to be the most winnable game on paper of the remaining contests. If Jerry Jones is high-fiving oil tycoon buddies in his suite overlooking the unseasonably warm tundra after this one, the rest of the schedule looks a whole lot more daunting with a tough but winnable game at Oakland next, prior to closing out the season with huge contests at Arizona and against Minnesota.

A win against Dallas at home would typically be expected with the hapless state of the Cowboys minus one Tony Romo at the helm. Unfortunately with how Green Bay has played this year nothing is guaranteed. Some comments from Dez Bryant (“I can’t wait, man”) lead me to believe that the Cowboys could be extra motivated to avenge last year’s playoff loss on a controversial call overturning Bryant’s impressive “catch”, ending the Cowboys’ season and sending the Packers on to the NFC Championship Game (which we will not be discussing).

The Cowboys come off a not quite as thrilling 19-16 win in the final seconds over Washington in last weekend’s Monday Night Football contest. Dan Bailey hit the 10th game-winning kick of his career to seal the deal in what was admittedly a pretty terrible game to watch if you don’t enjoy bad teams from a terrible division playing ugly football. That is, at least until there was 1:14 left in the 4th quarter. At that point the game was tied 9-9 on 6 field goals. I had regretted taking on that endeavor until this point when the game blew up with exciting big plays to finish it off. For anyone that hadn’t dozed off, it was an exciting end to the game, that almost made up for the previous 58:46 of game time, but not quite.

Containing the Cowboys’ run game, currently led by oft-injured Darren McFadden, as well as making sure Dez Bryant does not have a huge day will be the keys to victory on the defensive side of the ball. McFadden had 53 yards rushing on 14 carries against Washington. He also fumbled twice, and had a touchdown, which was his 2nd in the last 9 games. He was taken out and evaluated for a concussion, but returned. With backup QB Matt Cassel unable to take advantage of too much downfield, I expect Sam Shields to be tasked with shutting down Dez Bryant and outside of some safety help the rest of the defense can focus more on bottling up the run game. Cassel did win his first game in 5 starts last week, and going into that game he had completed 62.2% of his passes in the previous 4 contests, lost by a total of 18 points. Something could be said for him progressing and learning the offense while getting more comfortable, but I don’t think he’s a serious threat to shred the defense. Be concerned if he is hitting Dez early and often, as he inexplicably was not even targeting Bryant much until desperation 4th quarter attempts in last week’s game.

I am most excited to watch rookie Jake Ryan at middle linebacker to see how he is progressing. He ascended to starter-level snaps last week and seems to have displaced Nate Palmer to special teams duty outside of limited snaps in the dime package. I watched Ryan a lot at Michigan and he was an exciting player who made a lot of plays, and also made some mistakes. He played “with his hair on fire” and was easy to root for. He didn’t start playing middle linebacker until his final year of college, so i believe he has an even higher ceiling than some would think. Having he and Clay both be able to work from the inside and outside in the future is tantalizing.

I don’t believe a Romo-less Cowboy offense can score in bunches on the Packers’ defense, so outside of limiting big plays on special teams the most interesting remaining matchups to me will all take place when the Packers have the ball.

The Dallas defense ranks a respectable 5th overall in yards per game (326.5), 5th against the pass (222.4) and 15th against the run (104.1). In the same metrics on the offensive side, the Packers rank an unfamiliar 22nd in overall yards per game (341.4), a paltry 23rd in passing (229.8) and 15th in rushing (111.7). Yards per game is certainly not the only stat to measure team performance on, but this highlights the formidable Dallas defense against the struggling Packers offense.

Assuming the Cowboys will employ similar strategies to most other teams that have found a way to slow down the Pack this year, this game will come down to the Cowboys ability to execute that strategy vs. the Packers ability to find a solution to the offensive woes they’ve been unable to fix thus far. Defenses have been bumping receivers at the line to disrupt timing and closing down windows for Rodgers with linebackers and safeties who haven’t had to fear the run game, the slow tight ends, or the non-existent ability of the Packers to send anyone deep to take the top off the defense.

Thankfully for the Packers, recent results have been trending towards them finally figuring these things out, so we’ll have to see if they can make it count after an extended week to work out their issues:

· Eddie Lacy is “rejuvenated” according to coach Mike McCarthy in a recent press conference. I don’t know what that means, but if he’s running as hard on Sunday as he does to the buffet table in the offseason, then that’s a great start for stressing those safeties and linebackers with a serious run game. If this rejuvenation falls flat, they’ll be counting on James Starks to carry the load. Whoever is toting the rock for the Pack this week, it would greatly help their cause if they could hold on to the dang football and stop putting it on the ground, even if it is for fumbled touchdowns. Yet another reminder of how many good bounces were needed last week.

· Last week also saw the Packers send Jeff Janus, one of the fastest players in the league, on a deep fly route down the left sideline. Not only did they have the audacity to send him on this route, they also threw it to him! It fell incomplete, but simply threatening a defense with that occasionally makes them have to respect it. It was the most thrilled Packer Nation has been at an incompletion in a while. The Packers miss Jordy Nelson dearly, but it’s been 12 games now and he’s not walking through that door. The continued emergence and health of Wisonsin-favorite Jared Abbrederis, as well as the potential return of Ty Montgomery, could all help to boost the receiving corps’ production. Davante Adams not dropping passes and James Jones deciding this is a game he’ll score 3 touchdowns could also prove beneficial.

· Finally, Richard Rodgers emergence last week as the Packers’ leading receiving threat (even before the hail mary), and the other Rodgers’ confidence in him, as well as hopefully re-stoked hail-mary-induced confidence in himself, could all combine together to help the passing game open some recently closed lanes.

Two other potential factors could shift a closer-than-hoped-for game to a Packer win this Sunday:

· By the time gameday gets here on Sunday, Green Bay will have had 4 more days of preparation than Dallas for this game. Even more beneficial at this point in the season, 4 more days of rest to get healthy. Whoever puts the schedules together for this season did the Packers no favors by any means with their divisional stretch of games and Thursday contests, and this doesn’t come close to making up for it, but it could be very helpful for this game.

· The Packers under McCarthy have typically been a team that gets better as the season goes along. In the final 4 games of the last 5 seasons, the Packers are the 3rd most winning team (14-6) in closing out regular seasons in December. They are only behind Indianapolis (15-5) and New England (17-3) in that same span. The Packers typically finish very strong, and this season, they will need that to be true more than ever.

I think the Packers win this one 27-20 in an exciting game that is close throughout.

The NFC playoff picture is heavily centered around the Packers, Vikings and Cardinals, who all play each other over the final 4 weeks of the season. Every game is huge, and none more than the one in front of each of these teams right now. We will know a lot more next week at this time, but the nice thing about the Vikings and Cardinals playing each other this week, is one of them has to lose. Or maybe Packer fans should be rooting for a tie? None of it will matter as much if they don’t take care of their own business this Sunday and beat a team that they should handle in Green Bay.

Former Terrapin Diggs a Perfect Fit in Minnesota

Former Terrapin wide receiver Stefon Diggs’ NFL career got off to a slow start, but has absolutely taken off in the last two games for the Minnesota Vikings. In January of this year, Diggs decided to forgo his senior season at the University of Maryland and enter his name into the 2015 NFL Draft. Despite below average quarterback play during his entire collegiate career with the Terps, Diggs maintained a high level of offensive productivity and managed to consistently put up solid stats game after game.

Diggs made his impact felt in College Park immediately as a freshman in 2012, as he seemed to show up all over the field. The coaching staff quickly discovered that they needed to get the ball into Diggs’ hands in any and every way possible. He led the team in receptions with 54 and finished the season with 848 receiving yards and six touchdowns. The versatile Diggs even threw for a touchdown that season. He finished the year ranked eighth in the nation in all-purpose yards as both a wide receiver and return man.

His sophomore year, Diggs recorded 34 receptions for 587 yards and three scores before suffering a season-ending injury in the seventh game of the season. Diggs’ offensive production continued in 2014 until another injury sustained during the Terps’  victory over Penn State again cut his season short. He returned in time for Maryland’s bowl game against Stanford, and finished the season with 62 total catches for 792 yards and five touchdowns.

Diggs went to the Minnesota Vikings with the 146th pick (fifth round) of the 2015 NFL Draft. Diggs was generally projected to go slightly higher in the draft, potentially as high as late third round, but fell some likely due to the general wariness surrounding his track record of previous injury. After sitting out the Vikings’ first three games this season, Diggs saw his first professional action against the Denver Broncos in week four. Though the Vikings lost the game 23-20, in his first NFL game, Diggs showed immediate promise by recording six receptions for 87 yards, a team-high, for an average of 14.5 yards per catch. Diggs showed immediate chemistry with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, and the numbers are all the more impressive considering not only that it was Diggs’ first game as a pro, but also that the Vikings’ offense is not exactly the Greatest Show on Turf.

Last Sunday, Diggs put up even bigger stats, this time in a Vikings’ win at home against the Kansas City Chiefs. Bridgewater looked Diggs’ way with his first pass of the game, and by the end of the first quarter Diggs had nearly matched his numbers from his first game, by notching four receptions for 81 yards. Diggs has shown good hands and his ability to gain big yards after the catch, both of which were consistently on display at Byrd Stadium every Saturday. Though this was his second game seeing game action, it was his first NFL start, and he finished the game with seven catches for 129 yards. In his first two games as an NFL receiver, Diggs has tallied 13 catches for 216 yards.

When they drafted him, the Vikings thought they were getting an elusive return man with outstanding speed, who could serve as a fourth- or fifth-string receiver behind the team’s other young corps of pass catchers.  Injuries to Vikings receivers created the opportunity for Diggs to become an integral part of the offense, and he is certainly making the most of that opportunity.

It remains to be seen if Diggs can maintain his productivity as part of an overall young, generally unproven offense. But he certainly has the tools, and apparently the chemistry with Bridgewater, to become the team’s biggest offensive weapon as an NFL rookie this season.

Adrian Peterson’s Future in Minnesota, or Somewhere Else

I still remember where I was when I first caught wind of the marks Adrian Peterson put on his child. It was Friday, the last day of an awful week for the National Football League. A night after the Baltimore Ravens and their Ray Rice-loving fan base was showcased on CBS’s Thursday Night Football, the thought was that the worst was behind us. With all respect due Rice as a pretty good football player, he is not and never was the superstar that Peterson was. With Peterson in this mess, sweeping off-field violence under the rug ceased to be an option for Roger Goodell. Since that Friday afternoon, neither Rice nor Peterson has played a down in the NFL, but that’s likely to change in 2015.

Rice, like some other also-rans in the league, was released and suspeneded indefinitely by the league because video surfaced of him striking his girlfriend in an Atlantic City elevator. He was later reinstated, but did not sign with anyone, an inaction you can almost probably attribute more to lack of interest in his football abilities, going forward, more than anything else. He’s clearly not the story, when you look ahead to 2015, not when compared to an all-time great like Peterson. Technically, Adrian Peterson remains a Minnesota Viking, though it’s fair to say, that’s subject to change before training camp.

For the next three seasons, through 2017, Minnesota controls Mr. All-Day, but none of the money is guaranteed. If he wasn’t Adrian Peterson, Vikings owner Mark Wilf would send the troubled star packing, no questions asked. However, there’s at least a conversation to be had, whether he’s the greatest Viking of all-time, though the floor would certainly listen to arguments for Fran Tarkenton and a few other names a die-hard Viking fan might throw out there. On March 21st, he’ll be 30 years old, and for many, that’s when you have to do the sniff test on NFL running backs, to determine if they’re expried or not. Again, with anyone else, that might be enough to cut bait, as if the wounds on his 4 year-old child weren’t enough, but we are talking about Adrian Peterson.

I know we went over all of this last fall, but in the context of the NFL sweeping its problems under the rug, it’s probably worth re-visiting exactly why Peterson wasn’t on the field for 15 of the Vikings’ 16 contests in 2014. On that Thursday, the infamous date of September 11th, a Montomery County (TX) grand jury indicted him on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child. Again, the is a 4 year-old we’re talking about, and pictures revealed welts and open wounds on the boy’s back, rear end, legs, ankles and other unmentionables. Our world class athlete used a tree branch to show his pre-schooler who the boss was.

The former Oklahoma running back swore he never intended to harm his son in such a way. Let’s keep in mind, it wasn’t that long ago that Peterson’s biological son was buried after the child’s mother’s boyfriend beat the 2 year-old to death. For most, that would put things in perspective, and not to kick Peterson while he’s down, but many believe that he was far too apathetic about losing his flesh and blood, though he learned of the young man’s existence and that flesh and blood connection just days before the child died. For what it’s worth, I am inclined to believe Peterson’s claim about not wanting to harm his son. The problem is, he did.

Child discipline gone too far, that’s often the claim when it comes to abuse. Though I don’t have children of my own, many who do have asserted that children that age can be a pain in the ass. I’m sure I was that same pain in the ass at that age, and what’s a parent to do when acceptable corporal punishment (if you can believe there is such a thing) meets resistance? If you’re attempting to strike a child in a safe place and they move, you could miss and strike an unsafe area. I honestly buy that, but that buys you the benefit of the doubt on one wound. After that, well, every mark you leave and each inkling of pain you cause a defenseless child is simply a road map to grand juries, public outrage, and Commissioner’s Exempt lists.

How he ended up on that list, that’s something of a focal point, at least from Peterson’s camp. Did Kevin Warren conspire with the NFL to make sure he landed there? Warren is the team’s Vice President of Legal Affairs, and at the time, an exemption was a better alternative than suspension for Peterson’s bankroll. He was initially deactivated for one game, and if this sound familiar, it might be because Goodell only suspended Rice for two games before the public outrage forced his hand into something indefinite (which was justice, but admittedly unfair to Rice). An arbitrator later ruled in the league’s favor to keep Peterson on the Exempt List for the entire season, rendering his 2014 season over.

Now, for avoiding the PR nightmare that would have ensued, had the Vikings and the NFL let this child abuser on the field in Week 3, just days after envoking their new Domestic Violence policy, there is tension between the Vikings and Peterson, at least from where Peterson sits. The Vikings want him back, despite the criminal activity and despite his upcoming 30th birthday, but the running back’s camp is trying to leverage a trade. The problem is, the Vikings hold all of the leverage cards.

We’re going to hear about the Cowboys and it makes sense, DeMarco Murray’s future in Dallas is far from stable and the Cowboys are much closer to the finish line than Minnesota promises to be for the remainder of Peterson’s prime. It would also be a return home to Texas, but he does himself few favors forcing Minnesota’s hand here, as it is up to them to get the right value to trade him, when they could simply ask him to report to camp and play out his contract. And how dare he create problems with the team, when they “have been staunchly loyal to Peterson, probably to a fault,” according to Tom Powers of the Pioneer Press in Minnesota.

They deactivated him for one game after the allegations surfaced but briefly attempted to bring him back the following week, despite the fact that the populace was ready to torch Winter Park. After formal charges were filed, they got him on the commissioner’s exempt list so he could continue to get paid his full salary for doing nothing.

While he was gone, they didn’t badmouth him. They never wavered publicly in their support for him and, often referred to his stellar character — a hard sell at the time.

And they always said they wanted him back. What else were they supposed to do, issue a statement saying that Peterson’s 4-year-old son got what he deserved?

The real question is, does anyone (aside from the Cowboys) want the headache? The shelf-life thing may not pinpoint to a running back’s 30th birthday, but it is real. We’ve seen it too many times to deny the precedent, is Adrian Peterson the exception to the rule? My take: if anyone can defy garden-variety limitations a human being is supposed to encounter, it’s him. So, once you’ve established that the 30 year-old Adrian Peterson is worth the while from a football standpoint, you have to really evaluate if you can handle him in the locker room? In Minnesota, those familiar with him might forgive the actions that put him in Texas courtrooms, but he’s clearly ready for a change of scenery, and if he’s in a new locker room, it will be a direct result of the damage he inflicted on the body of a 4 year-old. He’d be around men who probably don’t know him, men with young children, and men who won’t forgive what he did to that defenseless boy.

Sure, he can help the Jets, Dolphins, Ravens, Colts, Chargers, and some NFC teams the Vikings would see on a regular basis, but what would those teams be willing to part with, especially considering his future with his current employer is not tenable? He doesn’t have another 2000 yard season in him, and with the Vikings, he’s due almost $13 million in 2015 alone. Who wants to shell out that type of cash on a gamble. The gamble doesn’t seem to reside with Peterson staying out of trouble with the law, but maybe it does. If he’s upset with anyone other than himself through this entire ordeal, which took nearly a full season from a potentially record-shattering career, maybe he’s learned nothing at all. And as older players go, is he the one you want mentoring your younger players?

It’s possible he’s immune to all of this inside the cloak of Jerry Jones or whichever owner ponies up the ransom Wilf and GM Rick Spielman are going to demand to give Peterson his way, and really, it might work out. However, logic would dictate Peterson and his agent take a step back and realize just how healthy remaining in cold Minnesota might be for Peterson on the whole.

Down By Contact: Sunday Postgame Week 16

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Chris Green and Jeff Rich are back once again to wrap up all of the early week and Sunday afternoon action in the National Football League.  Before the sun rose on Sunday morning in the east, the Lions knew they were in and the Browns knew they were out.  The Saints, Falcons, and Panthers all knew what they needed to do in their pursuit of an NFC South division title, and Bears fans would need to embrace the end of the Jay Cutler Era in Chicago.

The Vikings game in Miami probably flew under the RADAR a little bit, but proved to be one of the more thrilling games of the week.  The Jets and Patriots are on opposite ends of the terrible/great spectrum, but that never seems to mean anything when they face off.  Joe Flacco did his best Derek Anderson impression.  The Steelers end their playoff drought, and our most promising game of the day in North Texas ended up being a dud for the casual fan, but a great day for Steelers fans.

The Players

Chris Green – @cgrn731
Jeff Rich – @byJeffRich

The Browns' Midweek Report, Week 12: The Personnel Edition

It’s Week 12, and the Browns have a very realistic chance (at least mathematically) of making it into the playoffs, something that many did not predict prior to the beginning of the season. However, to actually make the playoffs, the Browns will have to elevate their game significantly, especially considering the relative roster chaos of the past week. Since last Friday, a lot of significant changes have been made to the Browns roster and gameplan, most of which significantly affect the Browns’ winning potential in upcoming games:

– Phil Taylor – On Friday, the Browns unfortunately had to place Taylor on the season-ending IR due to a persisting knee issue. He only managed to appear in five games this season, racking up 10 tackles (6 solo, 2 for loss). However, despite what appear to be somewhat meager stats, he had a significant impact for the Browns’ defense, especially in the run game. Having a 6’3″, 335 pound frame to stuff up the middle of the field is something a squad ranked 30th in the league against the run could really use right now. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see whether he remains rostered or not going into next season. In 2015 he will be in the final year of his rookie contract and will carry a $5.477 million base salary. Prior to his injury he had been quite disruptive this season, especially against Cincinnati, but with a plethora of depth at defensive line, the Browns have a bit of flexibility in deciding whether to retain his services or attempt to move him this offseason.

– Ben Tate – Tate had failed to live up to expectations this season, but at the same time cutting him seemed to me to be a bit unnecessary. Granted that though, I don’t know the extent to which he was disrupting locker room cohesion. It has been apparent that he was unhappy with his role on the team and having to share time with the rookies, but to my eye it didn’t seem to be enough to warrant dropping him. Although he has been a non-factor in recent weeks, he still provided valuable depth and experience at the position, as well as a third option to turn to if the rookies struggle during a game. The Vikings were given an early Christmas present when they were able to pick up a talented player at a position of need this late in the season. I fully expect to hear his name and see him on a highlight reel again before the end of the season.

– Josh Gordon – Gordon is back! Gordon is back! Gordon is back! And I’m real excited. He will provide a much needed spark on offense, but I’m not really going to go into that too much right now. If you want to read about it, feel free to click here… Or here… Or here… Or here… Or here… Or… well you get the picture. He’s been covered a lot.

– Jabaal Sheard – Sheard suffered a foot injury last Sunday, but fortunately he is not going to require surgery. He is currently considered day-to-day, but it still appears likely that he won’t end up suiting up on Sunday. Sheard has been having his best season since his rookie year, racking up 36 tackles to go with a pair of sacks thus far. His absence from an already substantially weakened front seven will hurt this Sunday.

– Karlos Dansby – Sheard’s absence won’t hurt nearly as much as this loss though. Dansby has proven to be a major leader for the Browns’ defense, serving as their quarterback on defense. On top of that, he has 73 tackles on the year and has been dominant against the run. Combine this with the loss of Phil Taylor, and the Browns are going to be struggling against the rush in the coming weeks.

Speaking of which, if there ever were a time for the Browns to completely adopt and follow Coach Mike Pettine’s “Next Man Up” mantra, it is this week. The Browns are facing a fairly mediocre Falcons team, but one that has the talent to put together a strong game. Craig Robertson and Christian Kirksey will need to step up against the run in a way that they haven’t been able to yet this year. Barkevious Mingo will have to finally perform up to the potential that the Browns saw when they spent a first-round pick on him. And the rest of the defense will have to improve greatly upon their game last week.

Gordon should help the Browns get moving on offense against the league’s last ranked pass defense. And hopefully Shanahan will revert back to the run game that won the Browns the game against Cincinnati, not the one that was under utilized in a disappointing loss to the Texans. Overall, the Browns should bounce back from last week’s game to put forth another convincing performance:

Browns 31 – Falcons 20

11-on-11: Put Me Out of My NFL Missouri

Show me state, eh?

Rumor has it that a suburban St. Louis town is going to hear from a Grand Jury about a relatively controversial incident, but we’re not going there. Across the state, the Royals were in the playoffs for the first time, and we came very near getting an all-Missouri World Series, but Giants from the left coast swooped in and stomped on all championship dreams from Branson to Effingham. At least baseball fans have some decent barbeque to eat this winter.

Speaking of the state missing out on things, Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium was initially slated to be the site of this season’s Super Bowl, which was ultimately awarded to the dome named after the University of Phoenix in Glendale, Arizona. While both the Rams and Chiefs have been to the big game twice apiece as residents of Missouri, they’ve each only come away with one victory and I’m sure fans will agree they’d prefer to see their team win the damn game than to see their stadium host it.

Last year, the part of New Jersey that hosts the New York professional football organizations also hosted the champions of the AFC and NFC. On Sunday, the state of Missouri had the honor of hosting the reigning AFC Champion and the defending champions of the World. Unlike Rocktober or whatever MLB Marketing renamed the tenth month of the year, teams from time zones west of the Central Standard, did not get their pound of flesh from Abraham Simpson’s favorite state.

Game I Anticipated Most

The best thing about Brady versus Luck is that it’s not Manning versus Luck. The Colts have turned the page and they’re writing a new chapter with a new character; dare I say a potentially better character? Meanwhile in New England, it’s business as usual. The Patriots have one or two big names on both sides of the ball, but quite a few anonymous figures that make big plays at the right times.

Gray

This week and arguably this season, the unknown figure has gone by the name Jonas Gray. In my former life as a College Football guy, I vaguely recall Gray getting a few touches at the school in South Bend, Indiana, but there was nothing remarkable about him then. His last season with the Fighting Irish was under Brian Kelly, but he was recruited to Notre Dame by Bill Belichick’s old buddy Charlie Weis. He’s now played in 4 NFL games, all this season, but he ran for 199 yards in New England’s 42-20 win over a decent Indianapolis team.

Not All Thursdays Are Created Equal

Thursday night football has been a target of ridicule in 2014, but it was worse early in the year when the average margin of victory was in the high 20s and low 30s. In every sense of the phrase, they were “throw-away” games. Things got better when you put division rivals on the field in games that meant something towards who we’ll see on Saturdays and Sundays in January, but close scores don’t always make for decent watching.

If you like kickers, last Thursday offered a game for you. The highlight of the evening for you kicker-lovers came on Dan Carpenter’s 46-yard shot, which put the visiting Bills up 9-3 in Miami. The Dolphins managed a 3rd quarter touchdown and were awarded an additional 2 points for Kyle Orton’s intentional grounding ways, helping them cling to a 12-9 lead entering the game’s final 15 minutes. A Miami touchdown and field goal represented all of the fourth quarter scoring and the Bills headed back to Buffalo with a notch in the L column after a 22-9 defeat.

Musical Clocks

Losing is one thing, losing track of time is a different story altogether. Viking head coach Mike Zimmer went as far as to say, “Clocks here are bullshit”, after not having the time remaining made available to them in the second half of their 21-13 loss to the Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday. Can you really blame the clock operators at Soldier Field for giving the Bears a little aid? Chicago had given up at least 50 points in each of their last two outings, both losses.

Watt The Hell

In the NFL, there are certainly times you don’t like hearing your number called. If you’re an offensive lineman, it means you’ve been penalized. If you’re a defensively lineman, it could be much of the same, unless your name happens to be JJ Watt. I’ll give him this much credit; he’s done more than Redskins linebacker/GEICO commercial guy to earn the publicity.

Houston Texans v Cleveland Browns

In the Texans 23-7 win over the Browns in Cleveland, the giant man from Wisconsin gave Browns’ right tackle Mitchell Schwartz fits all day, hence aggravating quarterback Brian Hoyer and the Cleveland fans in the process. In his day job, on the defensive side of the ball, he made three tackles for loss, registered a single sack, recovered a fumble, and hurried Hoyer all day. Moonlighting as a tight end, he split out from his standard spot as a tight end and caught the first touchdown pass of Ryan Mallett’s NFL career. You could see it coming before the ball was snapped when he drew one-on-one coverage from Browns linebacker Chris Kirksey.

11 Men Will Be Just Fine

Seattle fans will tell you about how important their 12th man is in an effort to pat themselves on the back for the success their team has had at the place they demolished the Kingdome for. It has a name, but it’s one that is constantly changing, so we simply refer to it as House of SeaChicken. They’re still pretty good up in Washington state, where they haven’t lost more than one game in a season at home since 2011.

KCFans

Sunday, they had to go to Arrowhead. And while I’m sure the fans didn’t make it easy on Russell Wilson when the SeaChickens had the ball, the 11 men on the field are to be praised for stuffing Marshawn Lynch on 4th-and-1 late in the fourth quarter. The two men who carried the ball for the Chiefs, Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis, put in work on Sunday, picking up 169 yards on the ground and combining for all three touchdowns in a 24-20 win over the defending Super Bowl champs.

What’s Wrong With Denver?

In some weeks, the Broncos can do no wrong, but get them out of the Rockies and away from the pot dispensaries, and all bets are off. Everyone beats the Jets and the Raiders, regardless of venue, but after that, the fighting Elways are 0-3 away from Sports Authority Field. In their previous road defeats, Manning and company put up 20 in Seattle and 21 in New England, but the Rams held them to a single touchdown in their 22-7 loss in the dome on Sunday.

You don’t want to freak out too much about a 7-3 team dropping a game in a season where the playoffs and a Super Bowl run are inevitable, but Emmanuel Sanders future is in doubt with a concussion and the Broncos are very much the walking wounded right now.

Credit the Rams Kenny Britt for making the most of his 4 catches. The former Tennessee Titan hadn’t done much in nine games before Sunday’s action, but he picked up 128 yards against Denver, 63 on his first quarter touchdown to put the Rams up 10-0. The second half belonged to Greg Zuerlein, who solely owned the second half scoring with kicks of 22, 55, and 53. He scored 16 of the game’s 29 total points. Hope you bet the under in this one.

Who is randy for Randy?

Do yourself a favor and watch Nebraska play the next couple of weeks, specifically #4 on the defensive side of the ball.  Randy Gregory could be the guy for Oakland at #1, unless they really think Marcus Mariota is that much of an upgrade from Derek Carr.  PS: I do not.

There’s a possibility that Gregory returns to Lincoln for his senior year, and no matter what his college coach says, it’s not going to happen.

Randy-Gregory

Acutal Worst Game

A year ago today in Houston, the Raiders won a game. They failed to do that in San Diego on Sunday, or any other time in the last 365 days, and they fell to 0-10 on the year. It doesn’t get much worse than a 13-6 game that includes Oakland, but I’m sure the Chargers will take it.

Dirty Laundry Award

Nothing special or devastating about this week’s most penalized team, Tampa Bay, who was penalized 11 times for 111 yards in their 27-7 win over the Redskins at FedEx Field. What’s remarkable is Kansas City’s 3 penalites for 6 total yards, that’s 5 yards for Ron Parker’s illegal use of the hands, a half-the-distance yard on Mike McGlynn for a false start on his own 2, and negligible yardage was marked off when the Chiefs false started on the next snap.

For The Degenerates

Pittsburgh is headed to the Music City to rebound from their wet fart against the Jets last week. Somehow, the Titans beat the Chiefs in Week 1, and then squeaked one out against Jacksonville in Week 6. They’re not a very good football team. I say Pittsburgh covers the 6 and a half, but this one stays under the 46 because Tennessee won’t score enough to put it over.

Random, Perhaps Unimportant

Nice play by Joe Haden to take a touchdown away from Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins. That’s what fans expect to see from their $60M shutdown corner.

Haden

Now, the Packers look weird in their Acme throwbacks always, but seeing Julius Peppers wearing any Packers jersey is strange to me.

The Lions caught the Cardinals sleeping at the wheel when Jeremy Ross picked up a ball batted out of the endzone by their punt coverage team and ran it back to mid-field, but the officials bailed the home team out, saying Arizona “possessed” the ball inside the five. I call bullshit.

cardslions

How are Carolina and Atlanta both this bad? Both entered Sunday’s game in Charlotte seeking their fourth win in Week 11 of the season. Neither team ran the ball very well on Sunday, and these quarterbacks just aren’t good enough to win with their arms, if they don’t get the requisite ground support.

I no longer believe the Eagles are among the NFC’s elite. On the strength of their 53-20 victory over Philadelphia on Sunday in Wisconsin, I appoint the Packers to join the Cardinals on that plane.

Cross me off the list of believers in this year’s 49ers. The Giants aren’t very good this year, and San Francisco doesn’t appear to be much better. Consider the window of opportunity to be closing in Northern California.

Shame on the Saints fan who stole the ball from the female Bengals fan at the Superdome. Just because Good Andy Dalton comes to the Bayou and smokes your team by 17 points doesn’t mean you can abandon all decency.

Thursday Nights Draft Madness turns to Weekend Sadness for Cleveland Browns Fans

Thursday night, the 2014 NFL Draft commenced at Radio City Music Hall in New York City as all 32 National Football League teams looked to add new blood to their rosters in hope of being the next team to win the Super Bowl. The night was a coming out party of sorts for new Cleveland Browns General Manager Ray Farmer, as he quickly announced himself to the NFL world by trading the #4 overall pick to the Buffalo Bills to move back 5 spots to #9 and, in the process, added Buffalo’s 2015 1st and 4th round picks. That trade turned heads everywhere from those wondering why the Browns passed on wide receiver Sammy Watkins (more on that later) to those that couldn’t believe Buffalo would give up so much to only move up 5 spots. Four slots later, Farmer was at it again, as he moved up one spot to #8 by trading the 9th pick along with a 5th round pick to the Minnesota Vikings in order to select Cornerback Justin Gilbert from Oklahoma State University.

NFL Draft Football

While making two trades in the top 8 draft picks would seem like it was a huge splash, Farmer was just getting started, as the biggest news of the night would occur at pick #22. The Philadelphia Eagles were the owners of pick #22 when “Trader Ray” the nickname given to Ray Farmer by some other general managers reached out to the Eagles and offered the Browns pick at #26 along with their 3rd round selection at #83. The Eagles, who were on the verge of trading the pick to Minnesota, quickly took the Browns offer, which was much better than the package offered by the Vikings. With the 22nd pick the Browns chose Quarterback Johnny Manziel from Texas A&M University. “Johnny Football,” as Manziel is known worldwide, immediately became the story of the night.

Johnny Manziel chatting with Deion Sanders after being picked by the Browns at #22

Day 2 of the draft began with a huge buzz for the Browns and their fans everywhere, as there were reports of a huge surge in season ticket sales, along with #2 Manziel Browns Jersey’s flying off the presses straight onto the backs of adoring Browns fans. Early in the afternoon, the Browns had a press conference to introduce Justin Gilbert and Manziel to the media, though Gilbert was only asked a few questions, as everyone was busy hanging on every word out of Johnny Football’s mouth.

The buzz and promise would only last so long though, as about an hour before the start of round 2 of the draft, while Browns fans and sports-talkers alike continued to debate the merits of Manziel and whether or not he should start week one against the Pittsburgh Steelers, two reporters from ESPN’s Outside the Lines series reported that Browns star wide receiver Josh Gordon had failed a drug test and would be banned for the entire 2014 season. While this isn’t the first time that Gordon has allegedly run afoul of the league’s substance abuse policy, it still left fans and media feeling a range of emotions from shock and anger, to depression and disgust.

After the fog of the announcement began to dissipate, the first thing everyone wanted to know was if and when the Browns front office and coaching staff knew about this alleged infraction, and what they were going to do to address it. What made the announcement even more puzzling was the fact the Browns had the opportunity to draft the top two wide receivers available on Thursday night in Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins or Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans. Since the team chose not to draft either of those two players and, as it turned out, didn’t pick any receivers the rest of the draft, Browns fans everywhere were left wondering if the report was even true. Browns fans would later get their “answer” when reporters peppered Farmer and coach Mike Pettine about the Gordon situation in their post draft press conference. Farmer and Pettine’s response was: “they weren’t allowed to answer questions about Gordon, because of the NFL’s policy.” In other words, they can’t officially say anything due to privacy rules until any appeals process is over and the league announces any suspensions. This type of non-denial/non-answer is essentially a confirmation the report is probably true.

Ray Farmer and Mike Pettine meet with reporters to discuss the draft

The Gordon situation is a maddening one for the Browns organization and its fans as, not even 24 hours after a huge public relations boon with the addition of Johnny Manziel, all of the air is immediately sucked out of the balloon. People like to say “only in Cleveland” does this type of stuff happen. While that may not be true, it does make you think: Who the hell did Cleveland piss off, and how can they fix it?

 

Adrian Peterson is the NFL MVP

The NFL regular season is over, and so is the headline format for NFL columns that I’ve been using. To let you guys into some of the stuff that muddles around in my head while I’m thinking about how best to stay informative and entertaining here on More Than a Fan, I let myself get stuck having to write certain things about the NFL after every week by using those Three Things I Know titles.

At the beginning of every season for every sport, I sit down and tell myself that I won’t let myself get stuck covering the league or a team like a beat writer. Not that beat writers are bad, I happen to like lots of them, but it’s just that I’m not a beat writer. If there has been any success here at MTAF at all, it’s been because we’re a great group of personalities that run our mouths about whatever we feel like.

There will be a lot of times during the football season that I’ll be talking NFL and/or my beloved Cleveland Browns, but if there’s a cricket match that strikes my fancy one Tuesday, I don’t want to have to run out of the time I need to write about it because I have to pick out some facts about the NFL. (Cricket has matches, right? Games didn’t sound right)

Now that that’s over, today’s column actually is about the NFL. Sorry to the cricket fans for getting their hopes up.

Adrian Peterson is the NFL MVP

Without a doubt. Let’s start with the reasons that we all know: 348 rushing attempts for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns. He led the league in rushing by over 400 yards and out-gained the top four other Vikings skill players combined.

There are so many statistics that help prove why Peterson is the MVP that I couldn’t possibly list them all here (okay, I could, but it’s New Year’s Eve, for Pete’s sake), but there’s still one big reason why Peterson might not win the NFL MVP; Peyton Manning.

There are many folks that would gladly give Manning the MVP award and Peterson the Comeback Player of the Year award instead of the other way around. (Let’s face it, the two of them are sweeping those two awards) Truthfully, the argument for Manning to win the MVP is pretty massive, too: 583 pass attempts, 68.3% completion, 4,659 yards for 37 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions.

So, we have two players that absolutely deserve the MVP who’ve both had stellar seasons. Both led their teams to the playoffs and both look to continue their success in the postseason. There’s got to be a something that makes them different.

The difference is the circumstances under which they’ve thrived.

Peyton Manning led a playoff team back to the playoffs. He had two receivers with 85+ receptions and 1,000+ yards. Sure, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker had better numbers with Manning this season than they had with Tim Tebow in 2011, but these guys weren’t made by Manning, they were just helped by Manning. How do I know? Because catching more than 25 passes with Tebow at quarterback pretty much ensures that you have pro bowler potential with a decent passer at the helm.

Adrian Peterson led a 3-13 offense to the playoffs. That’s right, in 2011 the Minnesota Vikings were 3-13 with an almost identical roster. Peterson only played in 12 games last season before mangling his knee and saw first hand that anything other than a Herculean effort on that stripped down Minnesota offense won’t get him anywhere. So that’s what he gave; a Herculean effort.

Adrian Peterson carried his team the way that running backs rarely are able. He carried a terrible team up the cellar stairs and made it all the way up to the top floor. That deserves NFL MVP.

Now, picking the future Super Bowl MVP is a different story…