I’m going to do an awards article in a few days, but I’ll give a sneak pick. I think that Adrian Peterson should be MVP for taking the Vikings to the playoffs, despite their horrific pass offense. The Vikings averaged just 6.1 YPA this season, good for 31st in the NFL. In fact, it took a career best effort by Christian Ponder week 17 to even get them above 6 yards per attempt this season.
How much did they exceed the record of the average team who gains 6 or fewer yards per pass attempt? Try 6 wins (I know the Vikings technically averaged 6.1 YPA, but I don’t really think that extra 1/10 of the yard was what got them the extra 6 wins). Including this year’s Chiefs, 22 other teams since 2006 have averaged 6 or fewer yards per attempt. 20 of them won 5 or fewer games and none won more than 7. They averaged 3.8 wins per season and 14.6 points per game.
The Vikings won 10 (in arguably the toughest division in football) and averaged 23.7 points per game. While what Peyton Manning has done with the Broncos is incredibly impressive, if you replace Manning with an average quarterback, they may have still made the playoffs (they made them with Tim Tebow last year). If you replace Peterson with an average back, the Vikings might not win 5 games.
Though Peterson’s value should enough to win him the MVP, it’s not enough for the Vikings to win a playoff game, I believe. Peterson alone makes them respectable, which is MVP worthy, but they need a good passing game to succeed in the postseason. They even needed a decent one to succeed in the regular season. In wins, Adrian Peterson rushed for 1335 yards on 244 attempts (5.5 YPA) and in losses he rushed for 762 yards on 104 attempts (7.3 YPC).
Meanwhile, in wins Ponder has completed 64.2% of his passes for an average of 6.4 YPA, 11 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions, while in losses Ponder completed 59.4% for an average of 5.6 YPA, 7 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. Peterson might have had an amazing season, but if he had trouble winning games all by himself in the regular season (as anyone would, even Peyton Manning), how he is going to do it in the postseason?
Christian Ponder certainly won’t play better in the postseason than the regular season. Not only are they tougher opponents, but they’ll all be on the road, where Ponder completes 3% fewer of his passes for an average of 1.7 yards per attempt fewer and a 7:6 TD:INT ratio as opposed to a 11:6 one. He’s also 3-5 on the road, as opposed to 7-1 at home. Expect the Vikings to be one and done.
Projected fate: Lose to Packers in Wild Card round