Peterson's average is far above average

Adrian Peterson is on pace to have his best season yet, and a gaudy 7.4-yard average per carry over the last five games is further testament to a season built on proving he is back, as strong as ever. It's all leading up to him pushing the 8,000-yard barrier for his career.

Vikings fans have seen great things from Adrian Peterson, but what they've witnessed over the last five weeks may have been the best streak ever.

Peterson is having a career year, which is saying something for a guy who has redefined what a career year is for a running back in the history of the Vikings. His miraculous return from knee surgery has been the making of legend, but, the last five games may have been the greatest stretch of his career.

Peterson was having a strong season prior to the current run of games he's been on for the last month-plus. Through six games, he had 113 carries for 499 yards and two touchdowns. That sixth game allowed A.P. to exorcise the demons of FedEx Field, the site of the knee injury that many feared might end his career – or, at a minimum, reduce his effectiveness. Aside from the scoring numbers, he was on pace to have a big season, but nothing compared to what has happened in the last five games. A strong season has improved to an MVP-type season.

He already has 1,236 yards rushing this season, more yards than 18 other teams, and he is poised to break the 8,000-yard barrier for his career this week. He needs only 12 yards to get there in his 85th career game, which would tie him with Emmitt Smith for the sixth-fastest running back in history to reach that milestone.

One of the few Vikings rushing records Peterson didn't already own was the consecutive games with 100 yards rushing – a mark held by Robert Smith at five. Over his last five games, Peterson has tied that record, rushing 100 times for 737 yards and five touchdowns. It doesn't take a math whiz to figure out that gaudy per carry average – an incredible 7.4 yards a pop.

Given the uncertainty that followed Peterson to Mankato this summer, any contribution he could make to the Vikings offense would have been considered a bonus. What he has delivered has been impressive, to say the least. As things currently stand, Peterson is on pace to rush for 1,800 yards this season, which would be a career year for one of the most prolific rushers in the history of the game.

There was a lot of concern about whether Peterson would be able to make a full recovery from his injury. While an argument can made for Peyton Manning as the Comeback Player of the Year, if there has ever been a time that the NFL should cook the books to make the award a tie and give it to both Manning and Peterson, that time is now. Manning's return from neck surgery and the success he has enjoyed in Denver is admirable, but the return of the most dominant running back in the league can't be minimized. He's had a Hall of Fame career already and, it can be argued, the best of all has come in the last five games.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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